Here at DMCG Global we recently ran a bespoke seminar with Lucy Hobbs, founder of The Future is NeuroDiverse, to represent and embrace neurodiversity. As part of our continuing commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, partners at DMCG Global in the UK, Europe and USA are now having a series of talks and seminars throughout 2021, provided by Inclusive Employers - the UK’s first and leading membership organisation for employers looking to build inclusive workplaces.
We sat down with Matheus Carvalho, senior inclusion & diversity consultant, and Aminata Pungi, inclusion & diversity business support partner, at Inclusive Employers, to find out more about their work.
Tell me more about your background and what led you to Inclusive Employers
Matheus Carvalho: I am originally from Brazil, with a ‘dash’ of Italy and a ‘dash’ of Portugal. I got my ‘calling’ to work on diversity & inclusion while working for The Walt Disney Company where I co-led their UK LGBTQ+ network. This opened my eyes to the power that organisations and employees can have to truly make a difference to society and individuals – not only in the workplace but also on a personal level.
Coming from a relatively conservative part of Brazil, that experience made me feel much more confident about being my authentic self. So when I talk to employee networks as part of my work now, I always remind them not to underestimate the impact of the work they do, and that they could literally change people’s lives without even knowing it.
At Inclusive Employers, I now have the privilege of working very closely with many of our members and clients to help them on their inclusion journey - from delivering training, consultancy and strategic solutions, to creating more inclusive work environments.
Aminata Pungi: I immigrated to the UK from the Democratic Republic of Congo when I was five. I’ve always wanted to be a change agent but as a first generation African, it hasn’t been an easy assignment.
Similarly to Matheus, my passion for ED&I was birthed through the makings of an employee network. After unwittingly finding myself in a sector where black people are promised hard work with half the reward, I co-founded and chaired the BDO BAME Network to help others who looked like me cope with the angst of the sector.
My aim was to shape the culture and behaviours of the firm so that no one else felt how I did when I joined or, at the very least, had somewhere to turn if they did. I led the network for two years, hosting fun networking internal events and even external events at the House of Lords attended by C-Suite staff.
I chaired a sub-committee for Lord Ghadia’s Multicultural Professional Networks Forum and influenced the signing of the Race at Work Charter by Business in The Community. Colleagues became friends at my events and turned to me for support, and the leadership team listened when I made suggestions.
Last August I joined Inclusive Employers where I support a portfolio of members with their ED&I needs.
Describe the scope of your work with employers and why it’s so important
AP: In a nutshell, we offer consultancy, training and thought leadership, to help you make inclusion an everyday reality at your place of work.
MC: Our scope of work is really broad. In 2020 we worked with over 300 organisations to help them create inclusive environments that are safe and welcoming to all. Our training ranges from increasing awareness and empowering people to have courageous conversations about inclusion, to tackling banter and being a more inclusive leader.
Something that I love about Inclusive Employers is that we really get to know the organisations we work with so we can offer solutions that are genuinely relevant to them, their culture and where they are at in their level of inclusion maturity. We provide a bespoke service and advice to truly move the needle on inclusion.
Are there any aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion that you find most challenging to educate employers about?
MC: One element of our inclusion work that can be very complex is the process of encouraging people to understand their own privilege and how they can use that to help others.
From a more holistic perspective, our challenge is to move the conversation from focusing solely on ‘diversity’, to truly thinking about the ‘inclusion’ element. For example, you may be doing a lot of purposeful work to increase representation of underrepresented groups in your organisation, but are you thinking about the culture and the environment that people are going to encounter when they join the organisation?
True ED&I infiltrates all elements of an organisation’s culture and goes much deeper than just an ‘initiative’, a ‘programme’ or an ‘agenda’. Part of that challenge is ensuring that people understand inclusion is everyone’s responsibility, not just the responsibility of HR, the leadership team, or the employee networks.
What responses have you received from employers you’ve worked with?
AP: We have witnessed how diversity in all its forms makes business sense for the employers we work with. Using gender and ethnicity as examples, McKinsey’s 2019 analysis showed that 25% of gender-diverse companies outperform non-gender diverse companies, and ethnically diverse companies are 36% more likely to outperform their competition. The work we do with our members goes towards helping them with their business success by offering help and advice in achieving genuine inclusive environments.
MC: We’ve found it really rewarding to follow the progress of some organisations that, at the beginning of their journey, had very little awareness of diversity & inclusion and are now truly committed to it. Employers really appreciate the expert and friendly advice and our ability to draw upon best practice from multiple sectors and industries.
There are no easy solutions when it comes to ED&I work - no ‘copy and paste’. While organisations can (and do!) learn a lot from each other, what works for one may not work for another, and how you address issues of race may differ from how you address issues of gender, for example. We look at the wider context and the organisation’s individual context, and they really appreciate that.
The role of inclusion in recruitment has risen up our clients’ priority lists recently. More organisations are realising that we truly need to be purposeful and focused on our inclusion efforts, and that just expecting diversity to materialise because people have good intentions is not enough. It is great to see many more organisations taking such a proactive approach.
Why is it not enough to be quietly anti-racist, anti-ageist and so on when it comes to inclusive employment?
AP: Silence to me is a manifestation of desensitisation. It means we are so used to injustice that we’ve become immune. In order to achieve real systemic change, real equality, real inclusion, all of us must insist on still being shocked and surprised. That is the driving force behind allyship. To truly be anti-racist, anti-ageist and so on means that you proclaim to confront racism, ageism and all else; it means speaking up wherever and whenever you can and never being passive or desensitised to injustice.
MC: I completely agree with Aminata, and on that point of allyship, when we talk about taking action and being anti-racist we talk about it being a shared responsibility amongst us all. I would apply that similar ethos to inclusion in general, in that we should not just expect the groups that are on the receiving end of discrimination to be the ones to ‘fix’ the system that has not been set up for them to succeed in the first place. It is the responsibility of everyone, and we should be using any individual privileges we may have to be pushing for change and use it to give a platform to underrepresented voices.
Inclusive Employers offers the following top tips to help employers create a more inclusive and diverse workplace:
- Be patient. The work to achieve an inclusive workforce takes time.
- Be purposeful and strategic in your actions.
- Remember the bigger picture in everything you implement.
- Ensure people understand why inclusion matters to your organisation and why it matters to them on an individual level.
- Focus on psychological safety. This will help create an environment where people feel it is allowed and encouraged to have courageous conversations about inclusion.
Dan Matthews concludes: “As recruiters it is crucial that we have the best possible understanding of how to represent diverse talent, as well as how to tackle the diversity issues our industry faces. By retaining the services of Inclusive Employers, with a series of talks and Q&As throughout the year, we are taking crucial steps towards our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion."
To help attract under-represented candidates and ensure diverse shortlists, DMCG Global has also partnered with Diversely - a platform that offers bias-free hiring tools to businesses globally.
If you’d like to hear about how DMCG Global can assist with your next hire, or would like to learn more about Inclusive Employers – please visit www.dmcgglobal.com and www.inclusiveemployers.co.uk.