The power of DEI: breaking barriers, building bridges

Lubna Haq | 31 May 2024

It’s safe to say most people would sign up to play a role in creating a more just and inclusive society where diversity is celebrated, equity prioritised, and inclusion is the norm. Right? Lubna Haq details why leaders need to double down on DEI in spite of recent announcements.

So why is progress in all our sectors still woefully lacking? And, we now have another spanner in the spokes. In 2024 we have a ‘common sense’ minister announcing the end of DEI spending in the civil service. But, at what cost? Esther McVey is advocating for the consolidation of dedicated diversity roles into already stretched wider HR teams. This move will not only affect the civil service workforce but, arguably more importantly, the quality of services provided to the public. Suggesting that DEI is not a priority in the civil service signals that it is optional as opposed to essential to both the public and private sectors and could seriously undermine the importance of building inclusive cultures in all our workplaces and communities.

There is enough research and evidence to show the positive impact of diversity and inclusion on organisational performance, innovation, and employee well-being, as well as the small matter of demonstrating compliance with the 2010 Equality Act. It seems disingenuous to say otherwise.

The glimmer of light is that many organisations and employers will continue to focus on and invest in their own priorities as they see DEI and successful execution of the business strategy being inextricably linked to commercial success and societal outcomes.

Right minded leaders must act responsibly. True progress in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is not a’ nice to have’ and requires more than passive acknowledgment of differences. It needs active and persistent effort to dismantle systemic barriers and create a truly equitable and inclusive society. We don’t want surface level commitments or statements that have no grip. If anything, McVey’s pronouncement should be seen as a call to action for every individual and organisation to commit to tangible steps that will foster meaningful change and empowerment for all. It involves actively identifying and addressing systemic barriers and inequalities that impact so many people. This means going beyond tokenistic gestures and taking concrete actions to create an environment where everyone can thrive. We all know that meaningful change often starts with individual actions and a commitment to ongoing learning and advocacy for justice and equality.
It’s crucial for individuals and organisations to engage in ongoing conversations about privilege, bias, and discrimination. This may involve challenging existing norms and practices that perpetuate inequities, advocating for policies that promote equity, and amplifying the voices of those who are often marginalised or overlooked.

At New Street Consulting Group, our Leadership Consulting team have DEI expertise and we have developed our own rapid assessment diagnostic to help organisations to understand where to focus their DEI activities against nine critical indicators. This is a core value as we support organisations in pragmatic actions that will have measurable benefits.
By committing to continuous learning, self-reflection, and advocacy, we can all play a role in creating a more just and inclusive society where diversity is celebrated, equity is prioritised, and inclusion is the norm. If you are interested in discussing your organisation’s DEI objectives, contact us.

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