Frank Starling, founder and chief executive of consultancy Variety Pack (pictured), talked around some of the challenges associated with diversity, the business case for inclusive workplaces and how we can create real change if we get it right.
Starling discussed the importance of the language we use in this area and gave some defining terms.
Diversity: Different types of people, with differences acknowledged and tolerated
Allyship: A lifelong process of building relationships, recognising privilege and being aware of biases
Belonging: A sense of fitting in and where you are recognised for achievements
Inclusion: Embracing all people irrespective of their background and how they identify
Unearned privilege: Some people have access to spaces and opportunities that others don’t purely based on the colour of their skin, gender, disability and sexual orientation
Diversity and inclusion are good for business
There is a cost for firms that lack inclusion and diversity, in terms of profit and reputation, Starling explained.
For example, how businesses react and express themselves on issues of racism affects consumer confidence.
Diverse workplaces also help reduce employee churn. And performance is ultimately boosted by diverse teams, which are 75 per cent more likely to capture new markets.
Challenges of achieving diversity in the workplace
There are some issues that stand in the way of creating fair workplaces, delegates heard.
Fear of discomfort is a barrier as we struggle to face the real issues at hand.
Through bystander privilege, we can feel uncomfortable to be part of the conversation.
Starling also said we’ve become accustomed to lip service and experts at saying the right thing, without meaningful action.
In many cases, there is a perception gap between leaders and employees over the creation of empowered workplaces.
How to create diverse and inclusive workplaces
In order to overcome the obstacles of achieving diversity, Starling gave some action points that delegates could take away to put into place in their own workplace.
- Be prepared to be uncomfortable
Through discomfort we can foster innovation and root out policies that are acting as barriers
- Create safe spaces to have conversations
We need to ask tough questions on what might not be working where people can talk without judgement or attack.
- Be disruptive and challenging
Challenge our stereotypes and the way things are done to create a fair workplace.
- Examine our privilege
Recognise what privilege is – so we can recognise those who can’t access it.
Think about how we can share our platform.
- Challenge how we hire people
Challenge our biases when we shortlist candidates; unless we question these biases there’s no way to create truly inclusive workplaces.
- Become allies
Understand every person deserves respect and the chance to be themselves.
Choose to live a life where you dismantle racism.
Try to create a fair and equal world.
Thinking about how we can show up for others.
- Use the right tools for change
Make tools actionable, intentional and scalable.
Think about how to hear and listen to the views and opinions from employees.