Reframing the conversation:
Why equality must not become a bandwagon
Since winning the IAPI Doyenne award a year ago today, our Deputy MD Charlotte Barker has been on a journey of discovery, learning and teaching in all aspects of diversity. Now having been elected to the board of IAPI and as Chair of its Diversity Committee, Charlotte reflects on equality, diversity, inclusivity and all in between.
I don’t know about you, but I fear I’m starting to get equality fatigue. Media stories on equality issues appear in my streams almost daily, brands are launching ‘female focused’ products (I’m looking at you, Johnny/Jane Walker) and men are wandering about in a state of daze for fear of speaking up and saying the wrong thing. A sense of irritation is creeping in, women are at times feeling patronised and, at times, bored even…
We can’t let this be. We’re at a pivotal point in history and societal change, where the conversation is rightfully on the table. So I believe we have a duty right now to stop, take note, listen – and act. Enough with the WHY, now let’s focus on the HOW.
How starts with you…
Fundamental to understanding HOW, starts with you. Every single one of us has our own set of beliefs, values, biases. The first thing we need to do is look at ourselves, and truly question whether we act in a fair and equitable way. Did we hire that person because they’re the best person for the job, or because they’re a good ‘fit’ for our business? Did we overlook someone for promotion because they’re out on maternity leave? Do we recruit from the same sources all the time, or do we cast the net wider?
My belief is that people are key to our business. Our industry is not commodity based, it comes from people. Our people are our bread and butter, their output is what we sell. So it’s fundamental that we optimise our people, and that means their whole lives, in order to really maximise the quality of their outputs. So we need to value each person individually, establish working environments that are conducive to best output for them. That might mean working remotely at times, or starting/finishing at a different time, or having a shorter week.
If you are motivated for no reason other than profitability, there is now clear evidence that a more diverse leadership team leads to improved performance. McKinsey’s follow up report to its 2015 Diversity Matters research has identified this in organsiations across the globe, so we’d be foolish not to sit up and listen.
So we must invest time and our own learning to understanding diversity, to then determine how we might best go about making it work for our own workplaces.