On Tuesday 17th January, we headed to The Ivy, Tower Bridge for our first Adoreum Club breakfast of the year. It was a morning filled with delicious food, great company and implementable discussion around Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) from our expert panel; Piers Linney, Mandy Rico, David Carrigan and Rachel Huggins.
Piers mentioned that conversations about D&I were scarce two decades ago, but the prevalence of these discussions within our current society is promising. However, there is still much more to be done, particularly within the workplace. A company’s core values and their evidence of D&I structures is more important than ever. David made the point that when finding a job, many of us do not simply look at the financial package offered by the company, but also their ethics.
Our panel shared many insightful notes and constructive advice on how to foster a culture of D&I within the workplace. Mandy explained, ‘diversity is fact, equity is the goal, inclusion is the act and belonging the outcome.’ It is not enough to hire people from different backgrounds and expect them to automatically feel included and represented. The company must form a culture of inclusion that welcomes employees into a trusted environment in which they feel safe to use their voice, knowing it will be heard, and they can perform at their best.
Below are our key takeaways from the discussion:
- As a business leader, you must have the confidence and courage to define what your D&I agenda means to you and to your organisation, selecting your priority objectives like you would for any other business area and then drive behaviours from the top. Promote D&I conversations and structures and ensure it is not only your responsibility, but that of the whole team.
- Measure your success – without the data you cannot implement change, it is imperative to collect accurate data on how inclusive your workforce is and use it for analytics. Know how you are measuring up in terms of diversity and strive to continue being better. The kinds of things you are doing in your organisation, no matter if they are small, mean a lot to your employees.
- In terms of hiring, Rachel suggested that attracting top diverse talent is not about lowering the bar, it is about widening the net and looking at the full lifecycle of an employee. Aim to encourage diverse individuals to send through their CV’s and get them in your system early. Lose your bias around brands, look at alternative industries to find more senior applicants. If you are interviewing a neurodiverse individual, ask them what they need for it to be a fair process and to allow them to thrive. David added the importance of strength-based assessment, and tracking who moves through the business and understanding why and the detail of their development journey? With crude measurement we can build pathways and understand causality.
- For smaller organisations, think about inclusivity as a starting place. As a leader in a small company, it’s your personality that drives change. Whilst smaller businesses often don’t have the funds to launch robust campaigns, their small size can also be an advantage, whereby they can promote change quickly and effectively and pivot more easily if something’s not working. The panel noted how essential it is to set intentions within your business and understand from the outset the sort of culture and workforce you want to curate. Inclusion is everything, and at the end of the day, if people are not having a good experience they will leave.
- Get people to talk without fear – the rest will follow. Often people don’t start these conversations because they’re afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. Promote an open and transparent environment which allows people to make mistakes and learn from them.
Our sincere thanks go to Adoreum members The Ivy Collection for hosting such a terrific event in their Tower Bridge site. It was wonderful to catch up with friends new and old in such a beautiful setting.