Engendering an inclusive society for the present and future

Speaker Presentation International Conference Partnership, BAME, diversity on boards

Article by Funke Sadare, HR Director at Global University Systems

Over the past few years, there have been an overwhelming spotlight on the Black ethnic minority group, this has also been intensified by the “Black Lives Matter (BLM)” movement.

The BLM movement gave credence to the prevalence of racism towards black people, whilst I have been fortunate not to have experienced any extreme racism personally, still there is no denying that some limitations come with being a minority.  That said, I have never considered my race as a deterrent in achieving my career goals or other life goals. I pursue my dreams based on my capabilities and expect to be judged on merits not by my gender or race.

However, it will be remiss not to express my concern and fear having heard some of the experiences of my fellow black people. I am raising two boys and often worried about the societal stereotype they typify, and how they will also navigate the complexities of the issues that is already entrenched in our society. This fuels my desire and commitment in creating an inclusive agenda for the future where our skin colour will no longer be a topic for discussion and Black History celebration will be an everyday norm and not constricted to a month.

I found this quote by Maya Angelou to be quite profound, “We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all threads of the tapestry are in value no matter their colour”.  Indeed, the true test of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) is in a society that embraces each other’s differences, be it race, gender, disability, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status.

Our world is evolving,  we are currently navigating a period of multifaceted and unprecedented changes, as a human race we must adapt.  Thus, I concur that now is undoubtedly the time for a positive change backed by action.  We must consciously set aside unproductive arguments, defensiveness, unconscious bias and unlearn some of the archaic notions that has infested our society. It is time to intricately focus on how the long-standing issues surrounding ED&I can be tackled to minimise the impact on our professional, economic, societal and educational frameworks.

Many organisations have jumped on the ED&I bandwagon and continues to pay lip service to it. For an organisation to truly demonstrate their commitment to this topical issue there must be a regular audit to review the demographics of the workforce and to ensure that specific factors are identified whilst creating a diverse and inclusive organisation. HR must create policies and processes to address gaps such as gender, age, marital status, disability, nationality, ethnicity, educational status etc.

Organisations need to create a matrix or scorecard on underrepresented categories, once this is established, they need to review and embed processes to address the gaps.  They must actively nurture a diverse organisation by tracking these metrics periodically and continue to drive representation and retention through recruitment, internal promotion, secondments, board representation and other internal channels.

It is worth taking the opportunity to reflect on how allyship can also positively impact change. The Law society succinctly defines allyship as “consistently acting to support people from marginalised or under-represented groups and working to build a more inclusive working environment.”  As mentioned, previously we must unlearn archaic ideologies and educate ourselves, we all have a part to play in fostering an inclusive society which will progressively transcend into the workplace. If we all practice allyship we would better understand and appreciate other people’s experiences and consequently develop compassion and sincere empathy. Allyship is about being accountable to oneself, being mindful of our own words, actions and conduct, and by supporting those that are marginalised.

Practicing allyship can be demonstrated in various forms, such as advocacy, challenging norms and bias, acquiring knowledge on inequalities and marginalisation, calling out any form of discrimination, challenging wrongdoings and practices that disadvantages marginalised individuals and doing away with inherent biases.  Organisations who practice allyship should adopt more inclusive languages and must be clear on their stance on discrimination and consequences of such wrong doings. They should encourage staff to be allies and provide the necessary guidance to support them, HR policies and procedures around discrimination should be robust and reflect the organisation’s ethos and values accordingly.

Our society is ours to change and it starts with every one of us, we should engender an inclusive society for the present and future generation. Remember that change is constant, it is inevitable, it is normal and it is necessary!

About the author

Funke SadareFunke Sadare is a Chartered Fellow CIPD and an experienced Senior HR Professional with operational and strategic HR experience complemented with strong commercial awareness. She is the HR Director of Global University Systems, UK and has been with the company for four years. Her core expertise lies in nurturing a high-performance culture by developing a people strategy that drives exceptional results, fosters an engaged and inclusive workforce.    



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