B uilding a truly diverse and inclusive workforce is a long-term endeavour that involves intentionality and commitment .
It goes beyond gender , race and ethnicity , taking in differences in age , sexual orientation , physical and mental ability , education and socio-economic background ; it represents “ the art of thinking independently together ”, in the words of Malcolm Forbes .
But in the wake of the death of George Floyd in the US , and subsequent Black Lives Matter protests around the world , there is an understandable focus on stamping out racism and creating a thriving environment for everyone at work , whatever their race or ethnicity .
While leaders champion this agenda , few organisations can currently be held up as genuine role models . At Alexander Mann Solutions , although we have made solid progress , we are acutely aware that we are at the beginning of a journey towards true diversity and inclusion ( D & I ).
Turning words into action
We acknowledge that we need to be better when it comes to ethnic representation . We accept that the deep structural changes needed must be led and supported by our senior leaders . We ’ re determined to take the necessary steps , no matter how uncomfortable , to turn words into action .
Some actions will be swift ; others will take time . For example , we have begun by reviewing our demographics and are elevating our colleagues ’ voices through regular open forums , unearthing insights that will inform and build career paths that are accessible to all our people . Training in unconscious bias , anti-racism and inclusion will be mandatory for everybody – from the top down – and managers will receive coaching and guidance on opening uncomfortable conversations and providing space to call out bias and racism . We maintain a network of employee-led groups which are tasked with addressing specific areas of diversity .
This work not only reflects the right ethical stance , but is also crucial to delivering the best service to our clients – most of whom will be journeying in a similar direction . As Emma Francis , D & I lead at Zurich UK , points out in our cover feature on p7 : “ Black Lives Matter has been a wake-up call for making ethnic diversity a more urgent priority for the business .”
A wave of humanity
In this issue , we consider the challenges and practicalities around pursuing D & I , with contributions and commentary from our clients , partners and experts in the field . We also explore current opportunities for progress ; on p11 , D & I director Aggie Mutuma argues that the perception of both racism and COVID-19 as “ shared enemies ” has led to a societal shift and “ a wave of humanity in the workplace ”.
“ Leadership teams have had to consider the mental health of their staff as a result of lockdown restrictions , while having conversations about race and the lived experiences of under-represented people ,” she explains , describing it as “ an unparalleled gift for people professionals ”.
Let ’ s pledge to harness this momentum and create businesses that reflect the true diversity of society , embedding inclusivity in organisational culture – where all our colleagues feel heard and supported , and have a real sense of belonging .
David Leigh CEO , Alexander Mann Solutions
While we have made solid progress , we are on a journey towards true diversity and inclusion