The benefits to having a diverse, equal, and inclusive company are vast.
You’ll find endless content out there which talks about how diverse teams are more creative, happy and engaged, not to mention all the information on better company performance and the impact on the bottom line...
...And yet, companies the world over still facing an uphill struggle with their D&I hiring and people policies at a time when the spotlight on the topic shines brighter than ever.
In the latest episode of our Life in Digital Podcast, Sphere's talent manager, Amy, is joined by Akama Davies, Director of Global Solutions & Innovation at Xaxis and Co-Founder of We are Stripes, a DEI consultancy whose mission is to address the ethnic imbalance in the creative and advertising sectors.
The team at We are Stripes are true advocates for change and have been instrumental supporting companies big and small in these industries to deliver successful, robust, and genuine D&I strategies.
Whether they’re working with global brands or boutique agencies, what the team find time and time again is that the challenges these companies face are always knowing exactly how and where to get started.
Because of this challenge, these companies become guilty of consistently moving the issue down the to-do list, or simply paying lip service to their commitment to change without putting plans in place or delivering on their promises.
Change won’t happen unless you want it to
First and foremost, as a business you actually have to want to change. Without this commitment, any changes you make simply will not work.
To get this right, Akama says the one thing that makes all the difference is having...
‘...a genuine authenticity to change and companies need to be willing to take the hood off about what some of the challenges are.’
Without being fully open to changing your practices, behaviours, culture and values, any policies you put in place won’t outlast the individuals driving the change.
In order to be effective, there needs to be a business-wide cultural shift and focus towards better, more robust D&I strategies. Leaving the task up of driving change up to only a few individuals will mean changes to the way the company thinks, its values and its approach to hiring and growth will lack real impact.
What happens if one of your ‘diversity champions’ leaves the business, or more of their time gets taken up on other projects?
The actions need to go deeper than simply a handful of advocates, and without truly wanting to make changes and improve your D&I strategies, they will no doubt fall short.
Change starts with leadership, but involves everyone
Much of the culture and make-up of an individual organisations stems from the leadership team, and while a culture is the responsibility of everyone involved, oftentimes it reflects the leadership.
There’s a pressure on leadership to know everything that goes inside their organisation, and it can be uncomfortable for them to admit that perhaps they don’t know everything about the topic and expose themselves to this fact.
Touching on the agency world, Akama highlights that when it comes to better diversity and inclusion...
‘leaders were aware of it, but maybe when it came to priorities, it may have been number two or three and then it gradually when down the list.’
It’s in these situations that the We are Stripes team stress that leaders showing vulnerability and acknowledging their shortfalls in this area mean people will gravitate towards them and they’ll gain greater respect and buy in from the organisation.
With this, they can be a real driver of change and start to galvanise others across the business, bringing them on the journey with them.
Review, set actions and hold yourselves to account
Once you have this genuine buy in, the next step to set clear goals and outline an action-oriented approach to create accountability across all departments and levels of the business.
It’s important to recognise that every organisation is unique and at a different stage of their journey.
However, there are a number of things companies can do to start to take positive steps along this path to improving their D&I strategies.
Doing things such as, surveying the company in its entirety, reviewing recruitment process, discovering what the points of friction are, why people leave and where the company isn’t maximising its reach are all hugely important in building up a picture of the organisation.
Interestingly, Akama says that often this isn’t the route companies tend to go do, ‘they’re more concerned with the amplification of their job descriptions to bring talent in, but this process is such a necessary step.’
Once you have the information in front of you, bringing the hiring managers into the discussions alongside the leadership team and conducting a deep dive into the results proves invaluable.
Having this information will allow you to create and determine best practice and gives your teams something to own and be accountable for. From there, it becomes about constantly reviewing, analysing and being critical of what you’re doing so you can learn and grow.
For more information on We are Stripes and the incredible work they’re doing with companies across the creative and advertising space, make sure to visit their website: www.wearestripes.org.uk/
Listen to the full podcast here:
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