While Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has become a primary concern amongst global mobility leaders, finding a balanced approach to implementation can be problematic. SilverDoor’s Vice President of Business Development, Pauline Houston, shares her thoughts on why many companies struggle to find a pathway suited to them and suggests the best approach to finding a solution.
Where has the DE&I motivation come from in GM?
The call for tangible DE&I credentials came primarily from the GM customer base. As policies have evolved and influenced buying procedures, DE&I has come to play a much more significant role in the selection process. Companies that didn’t have an explicit DE&I policy in place quickly discovered they were losing out by not fitting into this requirement. It may well be that some of these companies had a good approach to DE&I as a standard rule of thumb – but ensuring that clients can actually observe this in practice and policy, enhancing that level of visibility and bringing it to the fore, is now crucial to winning new business.
What are the common mistakes companies make with their DE&I policies?
A pitfall some companies fall into is an equivalent of ‘greenwashing’ their business but in DE&I terms. By pushing an outward perception of inclusion that isn’t really founded in their values or their people, it becomes apparent fairly quickly that their approach to DE&I is actually quite shallow. It’s this kind of thinking that is motivated by an anxiety to showcase DE&I values as loudly as possible, rather than actually practice them.
And that is the key to making a DE&I policy or approach really work. It isn’t about a single effort to create an impression of inclusivity. It’s about values at the core of the business running through each and every element of operation – and that’s very difficult to implement without an existing set of clearly defined goals and ambitions. A common mistake is to centre and specialise DE&I within a single department – typically HR – and allow it to gather dust within reams of administrative legislation. While DE&I policies should exist, they should be evolving constantly, shaped by the culture of the business and its entire population – from shareholders down to the workers at every level – and they should be part and parcel of everyday business activity.
What is your advice for companies looking to improve their approach to DE&I?
I think it’s really important that companies seeking to make their DE&I policies as active and robust as possible first of all look at their existing values and culture. It’s simply no good to try and be everything to everyone and do everything at once. Instead, it’s necessary to look at the company holistically and get a real sense of how a policy could reflect that – you don’t want to eradicate the culture that makes a company a success. Instead, you want to harness the best elements and emphasise them, harnessing those strengths while putting in place real procedures to ensure discrimination, bias or exclusion simply isn’t tolerated or given a platform to happen. Regular staff surveys, client feedback, seminars and further internal training can really help to ensure that culture is maintained and, where necessary, improved.
Ultimately, there is no ‘end goal’ when it comes to DE&I. You can’t be the ‘best’ at it. There is no final accolade. The real reward is in living and breathing it – and the proof is in the pudding. Companies should strive to make DE&I part of their company-wide DNA, ensuring it becomes their default position and part of how they normally operate. If you continue to attract the very best candidates and clients, and your workforce is healthy in terms of diversity of people and thought, then you know your approach is working. There will always be room for improvement, but the signs you’re doing something right will be instant and obvious – and very quickly it will just become the way things are done.
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