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Diversity and inclusivity: Making every community have their voice at work

During our Blue Door Expo in October 2020, we chaired a ‘Lessons for leaders’ discussion group focussed on inclusivity and diversity at work. Our expert panel considered the corporate responsibility of every organisation to not only be fair and trustworthy, but to create an environment where every employee feels comfortable to be their whole selves, as well as providing representation and support to the communities they serve and are a part of.

Listen to Episode 7 of our Blue Door Podcast to get a summary of the key diversity and inclusion discussion points below.

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Maryam Minhas, Sales and Partner Manager of Interactive Messaging at O2 facilitated the business inclusivity discussion and asked if there was one clear step that each member of the panel would like every business to act upon.

Here’s how they responded:

David Clarke, Director of Services at Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)

“From my discussions with corporate organisations, I have some very positive conversations. I certainly don’t see any resistance to the idea that more needs to be done. So wherever businesses are on their diversity and inclusivity journey, it’s important to talk a bit less, and start doing a bit more – because your business will reap the benefits.

“At RNIB, for example, we work closely with organisations on employee retention, and we act to prevent 3000 people losing their jobs each year. Our attention is now turning to pre-employment, and how best to assist blind and partially sighted people to make the most of the workplace opportunities on offer.”

Jake Dubbins, Co-Founder and Co-Chair at Conscious Advertising Network

“From an advertising perspective I think there are two steps every brand should take.

“The first is always to create content that is as diverse as the society we serve. Inclusion needs to underpin every step of the way we shape creative work – including where and how it appears – to talk to all audiences. Apart from anything else, it makes business sense: By creating unique and diverse campaigns, brands can reach out to a much broader audience.

“The other relates to how and where brands advertise. Advertising funds hate speech and disinformation, often inadvertently. So I’d like every business to take a close look at what their advertising is funding. Start by answering the following questions:

  • Do you know what your advertising is funding?
  • Do you know if your advertising is funding hate speech?
  • Do you know if it’s funding disinformation?

“And if you don’t know, then you need to find out. The choices we make as advertisers have an impact on society, and they must be aligned with our corporate values. A good place to start is to support positively, and perhaps exclusively, media outlets that align with best practice guidelines.”

Paul Asare-Archer, Head of Compliance at O2

“For me, it’s about listening. This year, of all years, I have taken in so much myself through listening to the different opinions of others, and learning from their experiences.

“Discussion about race and ethnic minorities can be so nuanced, which is why the single term BAME can be unhelpful. I’d love to help the business community to move away from the term, because people of colour are not one homogenous group of individuals who think in the same way.

“If I look back to the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, it unearthed so many different experiences for individuals. Are we listening to those individuals and to what extent can our businesses learn from and act upon what they hear?

“I think if we can listen and take positive action then we can create change. I sincerely hope that we can look back at 2020, and remember it not just for the pandemic, but as the year that awareness led to the conscious efforts and actions that organisations and individuals are taking, not just in 2021 but beyond; creating opportunities for everyone, and consciously realising we’re all the more stronger when we’re all able to be ourselves.”

What single change for business inclusivity would you like to see happen? You can watch the full panel discussion on the Blue Door Expo YouTube channel.

We discuss diversity and inclusivity with members of our panel in episode 7 of our Blue Door Podcast – see all of our episodes here.

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