Diversity and Inclusion at Subscribed London 2019

By Erika Malzberg October 4, 2019

One of the highlights of our flagship Subscribed events is our diversity and inclusion panels. Here we gather changemakers, challengers, and forward thinkers in the world of diversity and inclusion to lead frank discussions, attack difficult questions face-on, and provide practical advice for making changes within your own organization.

It’s very obvious that organizations need to think differently and bring in new people who can disrupt and challenge with their diverse backgrounds and ways of thinking. But the question is: how do we do that?

This year’s discussion featured a winning panel discussing how to build diverse, inclusive organizations in which people feel like they really belong and are therefore encouraged and able to deliver value.

– Moderator: Rachel Farley, Heidrick & Struggles, @rachelfarleyd @HSIItweets
Joanne Lockwood, SEE Change Happen, @jo_lockwood1965 at @SEEChangeHappen
Toby Mildon, MILDON, @tobymildon
Asif Sadiq, The Telegraph, @AsifSadiq @Telegraph

Read on for highlights on what a diverse and inclusive organization looks like, what is belonging, and how we can all commit more than just lip service to becoming more diverse and inclusive — at work, but also in our lives outside of the office walls.

“I’m noticing that in many organizations, the diversity conversation is still purely about bringing in women, and building balanced leadership teams, and cultures that are balanced. Everyone at the senior level is grappling with it. But we are starting to see a shift to something larger. We are starting to see people talk about mental health, and purpose.” – Rachel Farley

“Diversity and inclusion are opposite sides of the same coin.” – Toby Mildon

“Something organizations get wrong is that we are all diverse. Diversity is like an iceberg: you can see 10% of it above the water line, but there’s so much beneath the surface. Whether it’s your educational background, parental background, if and where you’ve traveled — all these things contribute to your experience.” – Toby Mildon

“Inclusion is how you feel when you arrive at work.” – Toby Mildon

“Inclusion is about feeling; it’s not about logic. Inclusion is having a say and mattering to your organization. People don’t leave organizations just for money and promotions. They leave because they feel like they don’t matter, like that don’t have a say in their role.” – Joanne Lockwood

“I can count the number of senior HR directors on one hand that understand how D&I enables their businesses to grow. There aren’t enough senior leaders who have taken this seriously. When you get it right, it has a profound impact on the business — then you will pay attention.: – Toby Mildon

“There are 2 sides to any D&I program. One is that it’s the right thing to do, but that doesn’t persuade the c-suite. The other case for D&I is simple: it’s competitive advantage. Diversity does have a direct impact on the bottom line. You’re only going to go as far as your sponsor. Otherwise you’re never going to penetrate. You’re always going to hit up against the ‘why’.” – Joanne Lockwood

“We’ve spent a lot of time focusing on differences, but what we need to get to is the feeling of belonging. Otherwise you have a diverse staff that looks great in numbers but isn’t performing. Intersectionality means we’re more than one thing. Boxes that we created in the diversity space box people into one box. Conversations need to be about everyone collectively.” – Asif Sadiq

“Half-day leadership programs on unconscious bias don’t work. It’s a journey.” – Asif Sadiq

“More than anything else, people are looking for authentic leaders. When we feel comfortable talking about our differences, others feel comfortable talking about theirs.” – Asif Sadiq

“There’s a moral case, and legal case around D&I, but the business case is more important. Companies are making money when they take advantage of the opportunity, and losing money when they don’t. So it should be weaved in. It’s not just a tick box.” – Asif Sadiq

You recruit the diverse staff for better output, unless you create belonging you’re not achieving.

“Inclusive leaders need to be braver. If we’re worried about saying or doing the wrong thing, then we exclude people.” – Toby Mildon

“We have to break down this fear of getting it wrong. Having conversations break down these barriers.” – Joanne Lockwood

“Employee resource groups can be a problem, an echo chamber. You need to get everyone involved. Men hold the power so the only way you can get things to change is by getting men to work with us.” – Joanne Lockwood

“You don’t need men as allies. They have a stake in this themselves. They’re fathers. And husbands. They need to champion the point of view. We need to get men to start believing the conversations about them. Men want flexibility too, but we need to create the environment where it’s easier to ask for it. Workplace culture still doesn’t allow men to have these types of conversation.” – Asif Sadiq

“We get focused on making reasonable adjustment for the one, without seeing the benefit for the many.” – Joanne Lockwood

“How do you create inclusion for every single person, rather than singling people or specific groups out. What about having leadership development program that everyone can attach to, not just a women’s leadership program. We tend to communicate with groups, we’ll tell all the women in the room, you’re great, we need more of you. But if we believe in D&I then tell everyone, celebrate it, be confident enough as leaders to say it.” – Asif Sadiq

“Targets are great and they do serve a purpose, but they cause a ‘someone’s got something special’ reaction and we need to avoid that. That just creates more divides.” – Asif Sadiq

“I believe in an inclusive growth module where we’re not trying to fix individuals but fix the journeys that go on and try to make them as inclusive as possible.” – Toby Mildon

“If we know how people are feeling we can get actionable data out of it.” – Joanne Lockwood

“Middle management is the group that’s most difficult to reach. This is where we should integrate it into what the day job is, weave it into what they do. If it’s built into your business, then managers will focus on it. But if we just wait until managers get time to focus on it, it’s not going to happen.” – Asif Sadiq

“Diversity isn’t complicated. It’s basic human interactions that we used to do that we don’t do anymore. As a manager, get to know your staff, find out what their needs are.” – Asif Sadiq

“If you’re in an organization without a lot of resources or time, there are easy ways to source data. Set up listening groups with employees. Go to Glassdoor to see what people are saying about your business publicly. Try to get and analyze HR data. Pull all this data together to try to pinpoint the issues that need tackling and focus your efforts there.” – Toby Mildon

“If you back up employee survey engagement with action — real actionable outcomes — then there’s no such thing as survey fatigue. But if you’re asking the question and doing nothing with it, it’s more of a turnoff than not asking at all.” – Joanne Lockwood

“People are really frustrated with the lack of action. Create something in response to what your staff is saying. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It can be a prototype. It can be low fidelity, and then keep iterating on it. Don’t spend months working on a business case.” – Toby Mildon

“The future of D&I is when we start treating people as individuals and value difference without putting a label on it.” – Asif Sadiq

“Technology is being used in recruiting. But within this tech, we have to make sure that diversity is built into the teams who are building the technology. Every stage of the design needs to have diversity otherwise we’ll end up with products that aren’t good for everyone.” – Asif Sadiq

“We can’t predict what work will look like in the future, so we need to hire people for learning, adaptability, passion, drive. These are the things that are going to add value to an organization.” – Joanne Lockwood

“Instead of posting a job opening and saying that we want this or that in a job candidate, how about saying we offer this or support that. If you ooze out what your inclusion features are, then candidates can see that you’re walking the walk.” – Joanne Lockwood.

“People vote with their feet. They’re not going to stick around to try to fix your culture, they’re just going to leave and bring themselves and their ideas somewhere else.” – Joanne Lockwood

“The beauty of diversity is that we don’t have to agree. We just need to be open to these conversations.” – Asif Sadiq

“Tap into the sounding board within your own organization. You’re sitting on a mountain of experience that you need to mine. What makes you happy, what makes you sad? How do you feel when you come into work? Are you thinking of staying around? If not, why. What about your friends who left, why did they leave. Then you can unlock the challenges and work on solutions.” – Toby Mildon

Organizations play such an important role in creating a culture that makes people feel like they belong. As Sadiq noted, “Diversity is being invited to the dance. Inclusion is being asked to dance. Belonging is being allowed to dance to the music you like.”

But it’s not just organizations. We’re all responsible for getting to know people as individuals. As Lockwood encouraged, “Go have a drink in a different pub. Watch stuff you don’t usually watch. Just talk to someone different.”

One small step outside your comfort zone, one giant step towards committing to real diversity and inclusion.

Check out our Subscribed World Tour for upcoming events near you.