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Leadership podcast: Leading with diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging

Leadership podcast: leading with diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging
Published: July 1, 2023
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An In Good Company podcast with Liz Ward, Director of Programmes at Stonewall.

DEIB starts with awareness

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) has become an increasingly important topic in leadership in recent years. Many organisations are working to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace, and global social justice movements have also put a spotlight on the need for strong DEIB leadership. This isn’t something that can be achieved overnight; it’s a constant journey and one that many of us feel we should be able to contribute to more effectively. But how?

Latest listen 

Tune in to our podcast and join Dan as he talks to Liz Ward (she/her). Liz is director of programmes at Europe's biggest LGBTQIA+ organisation and human rights charity, Stonewall. I’ll cut the intros and simply say – you need to tune into this podcast (snippet of their conversation and all links to access this episode are below).

Creating a culture of belonging

We've come through a period of time where people are starting to realise that in order to create the most effective, highest performing teams and organisations, we can no longer do it in the way that it's been done for the last hundred years.

Diversity, equity and inclusion are quite well known. But to me, it feels like you could drop all these letters and just have belonging. When you don't feel like you belong, either for reasons related to your identity or a protected characteristic, then life can become uncomfortable.

To have belonging, the first thing you need to have is awareness: awareness that things could be better; awareness that things may be fantastic, but we still need to work on them; and awareness that building a culture is not a one-time thing, but a process that needs looking after and investing in.

You need awareness to diagnose what you’re doing well, what could be even better, and what you want to aspire to. This enables you to identify what you need to think more consciously about.

What the research shows

We did an interesting piece of research at Stonewall around Rainbow Britain. Around 46% of respondents from Generation Z would consider having a relationship with someone who is of the same sex or gender them. They might still identify as being straight (for want of a better term), but also are more open-minded, are more willing, are more questioning – and that's just in one vertical of how they identify.

We also know that in LGBTQ+ inclusion, as many as one in five employees don't feel able to even come out at work. Individuals are far more likely to be assaulted at work if they’re from a minority background or part of the trans community, especially in front-facing roles like in the service industry. This is terrifying. We've got to be better than that.

How can you do the right thing?

Organisations in the corporate, public and private sector are realising that we have to do the right thing. High-performing, high-grossing and effective teams in organisations are the teams that also have a fantastic culture, centre diversity, inclusion and equity, and understand that staff need to feel as though they belong in order to bring their whole selves to work. As workforces become more multigenerational, the organisations that we are part of are being forced to think.

And what does that look like in reality? Here’s a simple activity… we ask participants on our programmes to talk about their weekend without using the pronouns of their partner. You quickly realise how much time and effort it takes to think mindfully about the words you use.

It might be that you're great on LGBTQ+ inclusion, but you've never really thought about access. For example, how do neurodiverse individuals experience your workplace? What about staff events? Do you have a quiet option? Do you have an alcohol-free option?

Start by making small diagnoses about what you could improve on. And the more understanding and awareness that you can bring to your organisation, the more you can begin to make the change to help people belong, because you don't know what you don't know, right?

Listen to the podcast on Spotify

Watch our interview here:


Listen again

007: Leadership, HR and inclusion with Mukta Arya, Chief Human Resources Officer (APAC) at Société Générale.

Coming up

009: Women in leadership with Louisa Rodriguez, UN Women Delegate 2023

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