Myra Cooke shares her six key learnings on how to make a difference in promoting diversity, inclusion and equality within organisations.
Diversity, Inclusion and Equality has always been an important aspect in my life. In fact, I think it's in my DNA. I grew up in a very segregated society under the Apartheid regime in South Africa and was active from as young as six years old in movements and campaigns for equality. It is a very unreal experience for a youngster of six to have their eyes opened to the fact that what they look like was not acceptable in the eyes of certain population groups.
Nevertheless, it spurred an interest in making a difference wherever I could as I went on to university and entered the world of work. I have been living and working in the UK for 13 years within the Organisational Development and Talent space. In every role, it was natural for me to review what the team and I were doing through the lens of inclusion across different business lifecycles. Along the way, I have learned a few things which will support our work at Scott Logic.
Do not assume anything!
Everyone has a different starting point when it comes to equality, diversity and inclusion. Education and awareness are a critical part of this journey and where the real conversations start.
ED&I is NOT a separate project or initiative
Look at the whole organisational system and start to identify patterns of behaviours that can and do lead to exclusion - everything from how leaders lead, to the language we use internally and externally, to policies and people data, to our activities and behaviours across the employee experience cycle from attraction, to recruitment, to development, to advancement and succession. Then formulate and implement plans to change processes and ways of working to enable inclusion.
Find Champions and role models
This is not a one-person role. It requires a sense of curiosity, partnership and collaboration. As a person of colour and female, I am a role model for intersectionality and, with my background, can comfortably talk from a position of ‘lived experience'. That is good and well; however, to make a shift and build momentum, we need the strong voices and support of allies who, because of the position they hold in society, can make a significant difference towards building more inclusive cultures and societies.
Actions speak louder than words
Following the murder of George Floyd, a lot of companies came out with powerful statements and promises towards ensuring equality, diversity and inclusion. A lot of it was just rhetoric. I was exposed to some of this, and it felt very performative and inauthentic. Fundamentally, why did we need such an awful incident to occur to build any form of momentum in this space? In summary, having a narrative and an intentional commitment towards inclusion is a great start, but it is imperative to follow this up with real action and progress.
Education never stops
I have worked on equality, diversity and Inclusion for many years, and I am still learning. It can be quite daunting for the novice. Having worked with experienced and extremely intelligent leaders during my career, nearly all of them felt quite unsure about how to start to address equality, diversity and inclusion within their organisations, despite a strong commitment to positive change. The first step in working through this was to build awareness through education sessions with open dialogue, and it built from there. Understanding leads to confidence and so, for me, it always starts with education and the learning never stops.
It's a strong employee motivator to have a North Star with clear commitments on what we want to achieve for inclusion within the organisation, linked to actions. Communicating incremental improvement shows a serious intent to this important agenda - whether it's through employee sentiment, or diverse hires and promotions, or other measures.
Equality, diversity and inclusion is a high priority at Scott Logic and the entire leadership team is behind this agenda. We have already started great pieces of work through initiatives to promote and support women in technology. However, there is still much to do. The next steps for us are to finalise our strategic framework on how we will bring this to life across our employee and customer cycle, as well as defining our North Star and our measures. It is an exciting journey to be a part of, and I am looking forward to collaboratively making a difference in what is a very new industry for me.
This content is sponsored by Scott Logic