07 Sep 2021
The importance of leaders speaking on the significance of Diversity and Inclusion
England’s football manager, Gareth Southgate this week was asked about Hungary's racist football fans, to which he said, "hold on, before I judge another country let me first look to the challenges this country is facing".
A lot of the partners we work with have recognised that using authentic voices from their own organisation is a great way to speak about their D&I journey. We’ve seen it to be especially effective with senior level hiring, however one viewpoint that's often missing is the importance of D&I to Senior Leadership Teams (SLTs). Ultimately, whether we like it or not, an organisation can only reflect what the SLTs project to their teams.
After Cephas Williams, the founder of the Black British Network and 56 Black Men, was wrongly accused of stealing by security guards at Bluewater shopping centre in Kent, he called out the incident publicly and was subsequently invited for a meeting with Mark Allen, the CEO of Landsec (the company who own the centre) to discuss his experience and assist in encouraging real transformative change from the top down.
Unfortunately, this type of support doesn’t always happen and when it does, implementing positive change can often fall short.
According to research by consultancy firm BCG, over a quarter of employees at large companies worldwide did not feel that their direct manager was committed to D&I.
This is a challenge. For a small organisation of up to ten employees the remedy could be as simple as the Founder/CEO having a coffee and a conversation about the organisations’ D&I initiatives and why it’s important. Of course, for much larger organisations there could be many layers between the C-Suite or Board and their front-line employees and the SLTs are the individuals who experience the immediate daily impact.
So, what can we do?
Firstly, we can be the change we want to see – we can join the Boards, we can take the jobs and we can be influential by ensuring that D&I is truly part of our organisation’s DNA.
People often comment to me that they are tired of having to continually push, but every small thing we can do as individuals of our society now, we do with the hope that the generations to come won’t have to face the same issues.
Secondly, just as Cephas did, if you’re affected by an injustice or even just see it, call it out. And hold people accountable. Help to educate and encourage conversations on how to build an inclusive environment.
As the Dalai Lama said, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
Join our drop-in clinic tomorrow to find out more...