Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are key focal points for many organisations these days, as companies with staff from a wide range of backgrounds are frequently found to outperform those with a less diverse workforce. We see time and time again that potential new hires, and especially younger talent, are concerned about diversity and inclusion, and aspire to join companies that rate these matters highly. Although recognised as a top talent management priority, DE&I is often seen as a separate function in many workplaces, creating an obstacle when it comes to the entire company embracing it as part of the culture.
At ChapmanCG we were delighted to partner with bp in Singapore on an inspiring best practice session on this very important subject. We were joined by three regional DE&I leaders from different industries, each representing an internationally renowned brand.
- Preet Grewal, Head of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility, JAPAC at Twitter
- Sophie Guerin, Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, APAC at Johnson & Johnson
- Michelle Cronin, Diversity & Inclusion Partner, APAC at Meta
The session was full of insightful sharing and thought-provoking discussions, from revealing quick wins to admitting to challenges and perceived obstacles. Here, ChapmanCGs Managing Directors Katherine Qu and Finian Toh share some of the key takeaways from the event:
Create a Culture For Open Conversations
DE&I is beyond numbers and percentages. It could be a mindset, unconscious bias during recruitment, and the words we use during casual conversations. It is increasingly important to create a culture that facilitates open conversations, in an organised or un-organised format.
Support Employee Resource Groups (ERG) is an effective way to improve conversation, employee involvement and grass-root initiatives. At their core, ERGs are set up for minorities or those who may not be widely represented within the organisation. Sponsorship from senior leadership is a great way to encourage and protect team members in the ERG.
Identifying the right executive sponsor is critical as this person serves as the voice of the group, presenting the group’s concerns and plans to its’ leaders. An executive sponsor should have the necessary leadership skills, authority, and influence to recommend course of action and policy changes based on the group’s concerns. Sponsorship works most effectively when senior leaders are matched with under-represented groups in the company. This way, these individuals will have a leader to look up to and motivate them to climb the corporate ladder.
Make DE&I Everyone’s Responsibility
DE&I is not just the responsibility of one person or team. It should be a shared responsibility of every employee, from the C-suite to entry-level talent. In some organisations, DE&I is under the HR umbrella; in others, it is a separate function. There are pros and cons for each, but ultimately it depends on your business needs. Either way, it needs to be on the agenda of leaders and linked to the overall business practice. The rubber really hits the road when DE&I is on everyone’s mind, that is when the real impact can be seen.
Equally, DE&I should not be seen as a stand-alone program, it takes co-operation from Talent Acquisition, Talent Development, Compensation & Benefits, HR Business Partners, and the overall business functions. Only with this collaboration can organisations hire inclusively, grow and retain diverse talents, and promote equality whilst embedding this in all leadership conversations.
DE&I Is The Only Way Forward
Organisations that prioritise DE&I as an important aspect of their employee retention strategy is making a huge leap towards nurturing a fair and equitable workplace culture. Research shows that diverse and inclusive organisations keep employees more engaged and thereby retained longer.
For many global organisations, DE&I is HQ-centric and often run from the global head office. However, key DE&I dimensions are often very different in HQ compared to other parts of the world. The panel agreed that ensuring regional and local relevance is important, there must be a continuous conversation between all parties, at all levels.
There are still a lot of challenges and gaps in the DE&I space – it’s not an easy journey, but we are glad to see more and more people joining us in this endeavour, like the panellists at this session and the wider BP team. These professionals are all great campaigners within their specific organisations, industries, and regions. We even sometimes see competitors in the same industry unite forces to tackle specific DE&I challenges, as a combined, stronger force may be more successful in advocating change or improving a situation. Together, we can definitely do more.
We are looking forward to hosting more HR Leaders best practice sharing sessions across APAC. If you would like to get more insights from inspiring HR Leaders in our global network, you can find out about our upcoming events here.