This week is National Inclusion Week in the UK. When there are so many competing priorities for business leaders, how do we make sure that 'inclusion' gets the attention it deserves?
The way I look at it is that inclusion is about the everyday. Agreeing the right sponsorships and earning the right accreditations are great ways of helping to raise awareness – but it's about much more than that.
Inclusion is about the experience our people have inside our company and whether they want to stay working with us. It's about being the company that we want to be.
And it's much more than just another item on the agenda. It's the one which engages, inspires, develops and progresses people every day – and that's a commercial case in itself.
My energy as a practitioner is focused on creating inclusion every day – and that can't be achieved by those with 'inclusion' or 'diversity' in their job title alone. It needs to be 'in the room' for every conversation we have and every decision we make.
I know that it will take time, and that we need to keep edging along. There's lots of really great stuff going on in our company, undertaken by some really passionate and driven people. And our Executive leaders have set their own commitments to help create a more inclusive organisation – contextualised for the areas of our business that they lead.
But creating inclusive working environments is a shared responsibility – not just the responsibility of our leaders.
So the work we are doing right now is based on conversations – to improve awareness, understanding and engagement among all of our people.
We heard some great conversations and fascinating insights at our recent Diversity Summit. And during National Inclusion Week we've been encouraging all of our teams to have conversations of their own – to share the things that they've learned and how they're responding to them.
Rather than focusing on grand gestures, we want people to think more about the small things – what we can do through our everyday interactions. Those are the things that really add up. They help us to create a workplace where people feel able to be themselves – and, by extension, to perform at their very best.
This week our senior leaders have also been hearing from our multi-cultural network, Unity, about their experiences and their views on next steps. We give regular opportunities for our senior leaders to hear the experiences of our people, and to work with them to make progress in creating an inclusive company.
I was once taught that "all that's ever missing is a conversation". I believe that there's always something more we can do to make our environment feel more inclusive to someone – and I think that making more time to talk is a great place to start.
Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion
Copyright © abrdn plc 2021-22. All rights reserved.
abrdn plc is registered in Scotland (SC286832) at 1 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2LL