In support of International Women’s Day, I attended the Chamber Diversity & Inclusion Series International Women’s Day event with Pamela Hutchinson, the Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Bloomberg. Hosted at the London office of Herbert Smith Freehills LLP on March 3rd, 2020, female professionals from various industries such as law, tech, and hospitality gathered to hear Hutchinson discuss the theme for International Women’s Day #EachforEqual.
What does “each for equal” mean, exactly? The idea is that we’re each responsible for our own thoughts and actions, and collectively we can help create a gender equal world. This concept of collective individualism may seem like an oxymoron, but businesses that value workplace inclusion and gender parity all start with the same question:
How can we all do something to make things better for everyone?
It’s a key question, but according to the World Economic Forum, it will take another 257 years for women to achieve parity in the workplace. While it does a long time to change corporate culture and mindset, I certainly do not want to wait quite that long. If we want to fast-track corporate culture changes in favor of diversity, inclusion, and parity, organizations must act boldly, and not simply proclaim good intentions.
Stemming from her 25+ years of experience with diversity and inclusion in the financial tech industry, Hutchinson offered the audience several actionable insights that organizations can use to help drive cultural change:
- To Drive Diversity and Inclusion, Organizations Need Top-Down Accountability and Grassroots Support
“A lot of places say [diversity and inclusion] is a priority but is it important for the leadership and board members to be engaged,” Hutchinson advises. Ask your leadership and teams thoughtful questions about how they can demonstrate measurable success: “Metrics are important,” Hutchinson said. “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know where you are going, or what you want to achieve. And then you are in the wilderness.”
Diversity and inclusion require everyday action from the top. Ask your team leaders what they are doing to have an inclusive environment, thinking not just about the team dynamics of the present, but also the future. Who is in the line of succession for leadership positions, and what are your plans for them?
Create Spaces for Open Communication Among Your Employees
In Hutchinson’s case, Bloomberg corporate culture is known industry-wide for its egalitarian style. All employees sit in open floor plans (yes, even Michael Bloomberg), and while there are Team Leaders, job titles are virtually non-existent in order to fully emphasize the equal value of each employee’s voice.
While not all corporations function in this capacity, it can be helpful to provide employee resource groups that not only empower employees to bring ideas of inclusivity to the forefront, but also provide opportunities for leaders to check in with their employees in a candid yet organized way.
For example, the impact of social media coverage of the global women’s marches and hashtags like 2017’s #metoo and #brexit prove how the world is galvanized around equality and fairness. Social media is now a space where people air their grievances, and companies are paying attention to how their brand is being perceived. “We want to hear from our people internally to work it out together, rather than hear it on social media,” says Hutchinson. Ideally, companies should prioritize a culture of empowerment where employees have an effective space to collectively drive the company’s diversity and inclusion agenda.
Diversity and Inclusivity Initiatives Should, By Definition, Include Everyone
Gender diversity is not just about changing the position of women, but also changing the expectations of traditionally male roles. Inclusivity means there is space for all of us. As Hutchinson says, “it can be helpful for organizations to have male role models that talk to other men about the diversity and inclusion agenda, because we are not going to move the agenda forward without them.”
In line with this idea of gender equality, think about your own company policies that concern employees across all genders, such as childcare leave and flexible work schedules meant to accommodate all family dynamics, mentorship programs, and post-childcare leave support.
Those involved in diversity and inclusion in the workplace know that there is still work to be done, and keeping in mind the above can help leaders go one step further towards diversity, inclusion, and parity, no matter the industry.
Learn how to make your work environment more inclusive, engaging and productive with our Global Inclusion Course.