Where do businesses go from here?

Authentically Being News   •   June 13, 2020

If you were given the opportunity to do the right thing would you? If you were responsible for creating and building a fair and equal culture for all within your business, would you? Would you do the right thing even if it meant risking shareholder value in the short term?

Organisations have been called to task on producing lovely documented policies on Diversity & Inclusion, we have all set up our CSR task groups with press photographers at the ready; but what actions are we really taking to stamp out inequality and racism within our businesses and communities? The uprising that has taken place over the past few weeks has shown massive unity whilst simultaneously highlighting huge divides.

Here are 7 reminders of how your business can help to fight the fight against inequality including racial injustice that won’t include temporarily changing your logo or having a magazine exclusive party.

1.Build fair pay practices

How many businesses are really committed to equal pay for equal work? We’re used to talking about the gender pay gap but how about the racial pay gap or the socio-economical background pay gap? Are businesses really paying that person who’s just arrived from overseas the same money as they are paying their localised staff? Or what about offering a graduate more money because they went to a preferred university but have the same results as someone who didn’t? Yes, you might have salary bands and you might claim it’s all part of the “negotiations” but as someone very recently pointed out “How are people supposed to negotiate for a life they never knew existed?”

2.Make a difference within the communities from which you operate

 I’m talking to every business that outsources their back-office services from the likes of Eastern Europe, Africa and South East Asia. It can make compelling financial sense to stakeholders on paper. However, what are businesses doing to support those communities where they are utilising cheaper labour rates and benefitting from minimal employment rights? Can more be done to support staff and build better futures for themselves and their children? What training and leaderships opportunities are they being given? How many benefits are they being offered which would be comparable to their colleagues across the globe? Could some businesses be at risk of creating financial sweatshops? What could your business be doing to help grow local economies outside of your profit margin?

3. Expand your bursary schemes, expand your talent pool

It’s fair to say that the fight for employment in the Channel Islands isn’t so much of a fight compared to our UK counterparts but what I can say is that discrimination about the school you went to, or the name you have, can still impact whether you are considered for a role or not. If your business is still utilising only the top tier schools to get people through the door then your business may not be as diverse or inclusive as you may think it is. How about approaching all schools for bursary schemes? How about committing to blind CV reading where names and schools are omitted from submissions?

4.Let go of the idea that all the decision makers need to be in one place

Global businesses have the capacity to generate phenomenal progress and innovation. But first, they need to let go of the idea that one jurisdiction is superior to all others, that the “mothership” must control all. If Covid has taught us anything, it is that we don’t need be in the same place to get things done. So, utilise, support and promote all of your talent across the globe. It’s a sure-fire way of diversifying your management and supporting outlier jurisdictions.

5.It takes more than published policies or messages of support

It’s great that people are spending time and effort on creating policies and sending messages of support in the wake of black lives matter and on diversity inclusion but there is more that can be done. Investing in training, education and then taking action is all part of the package. Ensuring that your business does not operate in a way that systematically excludes minority groups has to be part of this commitment.

 6.Be uncomfortable and have those conversations anyway

So many of us want to do the right thing, but we have also been uncomfortable to really acknowledge that there is a problem in the first place. Instead it’s been swept under the carpet, avoided at all costs. Minority groups continue to play the game, try to blend into our culture and give us allowances for our own ignorance of the world in which they live in. Have those conversations, with each other, with your staff and with your families and with your friends. Take personal accountability for how you can personally be an ally. Open your eyes to the people around you and learn. Don’t look to someone else to guide you, become the change from within.

7.Start from a position of Love

So much hate has been thrown about in the past few weeks and all too often we operate from a place of fear within business. We’re fearful of doing the wrong thing, fearful our staff can’t be trusted. We make decisions, we lay down policies and we rule through the lens of fear trying to minimise risks.

But what would your business look like if you started to operate from a place of love? Love is often seen as soft, something not worthy of corporate time. Stealing the words of Fred Kofman:

“Love is a competitive advantage in a free market, the companies that best embody love and that best support the wellbeing of all stakeholders will win”. 

So next time you sit down to resolve a challenge or your efforts around Diversity & Inclusion think about whether you’re making decisions from a place of fear of your staff (or share price) or from a genuine place of love, support and compassion for your people?

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