Diversity – it’s time we all took ownership
Last week Berwick Partners and Odgers Berndtson hosted an event in our London office for senior HR professionals from the real estate industry. The event focused on how to attract different types of people (ethnicity, gender, ability, social backgrounds etc.) to your business. We had a fantastic panel of speakers including, Virginia Rothwell – HRD at JLL, Vinay Kapoor – UK Head of Diversity & Inclusion and EMEA CIB Diversity Council at BMP Paribas and Sanjeev Sharma – COO at M&G Real Estate. It was an extremely positive event and it is clear there is a lot of good work going on, not just in the real estate industry but across all industries in the UK.
It has been recognised that to drive the diversity agenda, buy in from the senior leadership team is key. This is true in any change programme within business; unless there is buy in from the top, agendas are unlikely to succeed. At the event, we heard an inspiring story about one woman’s mission to drive the diversity agenda within her organisation and her success in doing so. This resonated with me; I believe as employees and individuals who are keen to work in a diverse environment we should now be taking ownership.
Surely a diverse organisation is a great place to work? I am personally driven by self-development; I enjoy a challenge and am always open to learning new ways of working. I am pretty sure I am not alone in this. In addition to this the different points of view, the constant challenge to the norm and increased debate is surely what supports an organisation in remaining innovative, progressive and can in some cases provide them with the ability to get closer to their customer?
With only 23% of the board seats at 187 of the largest listed companies in the UK taken by women, as women we may find it intimidating when looking at an all-male, white board to have the confidence to question the diversity agenda. Vinay challenged this thinking yesterday, in true Dr Pepper style, and quite rightly said “what’s the worst that can happen”? Just because you cannot see another ‘you’ sitting on the board, driving this agenda, doesn’t mean you cannot – in fact you may be asked to be the diversity lead or champion and what an amazing role that would be, contributing to your company’s future and inspiring others.
Leanne Adair is a Consultant in the HR Practice