Stop Talking and Start Walking
The acknowledgment and need for diversity within work environments has been at the forefront of many organisations strategic mandate for a very long time as a route to improving and building organisational culture, creativity, productivity, profits, and the overall bottom line. But as we come to terms with the past two years in lockdown and the impacts of the Global covid pandemic on the business world and life in general, we all continue to attempt to define what our “new normal” will look like and look at it as an opportunity to press the reset button.
Brexit, the tragic and racially fuelled murder of George Floyd, the political crisis in the US and now the UK all add to what is a challenging operating environment. Organisations need to think more strategically not only about the bottom line, but also their Corporate, social responsibility, towards the implementation of and Equity, diversity, and inclusion strategy. Therefore, it is critical for organisations to place a greater focus on not only talking the talk but walking the walk and acknowledging that the actions which governance and strategic teams take has become the only route to tangible change for persons of diverse backgrounds.
It isn’t enough to have and EDI policy, department or officer, a Diversity and Equality charter mark or best practice mark if that is all your organisation has to show for its contribution to this key aspect of business. It is absolutely necessary to #unmute and begin to have those challenging and difficult conversations, disrupting the status quo and honestly reflecting on what your organisation is doing in a tangible way to provide and inclusive and equitable environment for your business living up to not only your ethical and moral responsibility to society as a whole, but also in its most simplistic form engaging in actions that are just better for business.
From my experience working with several organisations, there is a fear around having open and honest discussions about what strides organisations have made in fulfilling this mandate. Facilitating these discussions is critical particularly as you look around the room of the governance/ Senior management team and realise that unless organisations recognise that diversity, equity, and inclusive practice begins at the top, it will be difficult to create an environment where the business reaps the full benefits of this highly critical strategic approach.
But before walking the walk organisations need to be willing to #unmute and engage in some ruthless self-reflection and have the hard conversations that are needed to understand what is truly required for an organisation to walk the walk of diversity, equity and inclusion, and then work towards creating an organisational environment and culture that supports this mandate.