As a company that values inclusion, in fact, one of our values is actually inclusion, we have been asking our valued clients and friends in our regular Talking Heads Interview Series what diversity and inclusion means to them.
We know from experience that diversity gives you access to a greater range of talent, providing a greater world view and insight. As a search company, we also know that when employees feel accepted and valued, they are also happier in their workplace and stay longer with a company.
Thank you to all who have been involved in our interview series. Being a few weeks into the new year, we are keen to reflect on a few of the answers to the question: Can you please tell us what diversity, equity and inclusion mean to you, and why they’re important?
The compound effect of each and every one of us doing something means that incremental steps and change to a more equal, diverse and inclusive world – in all senses – will happen.
Clare Beresford, CEO, Laurence Simons Search
This is such a crucial area and thankfully one that has really risen up the agenda. To my mind, an inclusive organisation is one that recognises and fully embraces the importance of a diverse workforce to its success. It’s about developing a culture where everyone can feel valued, engaged and respected for what they do and given the opportunity to progress. This means taking proactive steps to ensure that the rhetoric becomes a reality. In practice, therefore, this means a number of things. First, ensuring there are no barriers to recruitment, participation, or progression. To do this properly you need to ask for opinions; you may not perceive the barriers that others see or even experience. Second, listen to what is said, understand the concerns and work hard to address them. Third, identify the pathways to ensure diversity and inclusion goals can be met (assuming you’ve set some!) and that a wide range of groups are represented across the organisation and in particular in leadership roles. This should be supported with mentoring, training, and coaching.
So why does this matter? Creating an equitable, inclusive and diverse environment is more than just a ‘good thing to do’. All the evidence to date shows that doing so also delivers a sustainable and competitive advantage. It leads to higher retention levels, better workforce engagement, the ability to attract top talent, more innovation, and better decision-making. In other words, it helps build better businesses.
Debbie Ramsay, Director, Good Corporation
For me these matters equate to fairness and meritocracy. Regardless of your background and gender, you ought to be able to succeed based on merit. It is important that people from different backgrounds are able to work together as they have different talents to bring to the table. Beyond the important ethical and moral standpoint, many studies show that the more diverse the organisation, the more growth and revenue is generated. It is also an ethical and moral matter. Having worked for different organisations, it is good to see these issues rightfully and increasingly being put forward, as it is crucial to attract top talent. I also realise that such initiatives may have also contributed to my own career growth.
Sofia Idehn, Managing Counsel, Groupe Renault
Diversity, equity and inclusion are about fairness, doing the right thing, but are also part of an obvious business decision. You cannot expect having, in a room, the best minds and ideas if you exclude half of the population. If you are curious you need to hear the dissenting voices. Diversity needs to take many forms: gender, socio economics, thoughts, disabilities, and many others. And then inclusion will ensure you listen to these different voices, so they feel valued. One of my friends sadly described it as, too often, having been invited to the ball but nobody ever having asked her to dance.
Beatrice Devillon-Cohen, Observer to the Audit Committee at the European Investment Bank
Diversity means being inclusive. Company leaders need to drive diversity from the top. They need to build it into their business goals, organisational culture and workforce. Leaders must demonstrate that they value diversity and recruit a workforce which reflects the wider world. A diverse workforce will strengthen company performance including vastly improving customer service. Disabled people should be at all levels of the workforce and feel safe to declare hidden disabilities. We are part of society and should be at least 20% of every work force.
Anna Morrell, Disability Rights UK
My personal and professional experience has shown that diversity is critical in any situation where human beings interact with each other in order to learn, share ideas or look to tackle a common challenge. Diversity offers different experiences and perspectives, allowing us to see things in a different light, expand our thinking and broaden our sense of what is possible.
Simon Zinger, Group General Counsel, Dentsu