5 Ways to Shift the Dial on Inclusion
Ollie Folayan, Head of Process at Optimus Plus Aberdeen
I was once standing at a news agent and a man walked up to me with a huge smile on his face. He looked like he just won the lottery. He said, “It’s the end of racism.” This was the 5th of November 2008. We’d all been watching Barack Obama become the president-elect of the United States. Looking back at the many changes that have happened since, it is clear to most objective observers that that has done little to really shift the dial. We go through this circle within our industry where it seems as if we have watershed moments that become fleeting. And it’s often said that the more things change, the more they stay the same. When the civil rights campaigner was speaking to the Guardian journalist, Gary Young, about what he thought about people like the appointment of Obama, Angela Davis said that representation and diversity are good, but she also described them as the difference that makes no difference.
I think that in order for us to truly shift the dial, we must get to a point where we start to draw lessons from the other big changes happening in our industry, the change that has happened as a result of safety. So what I was going to talk about today until the slide moves to the right point is what our organizations look like. Most organizations look a bit like this. The top gets praised when things go right, the bottom gets blamed when things go wrong. In order for us to change and really shift the dial, we need something that looks a bit more like the next slide you will see, where there will be a genuine connection of the dots. And just as soon as that shows up, I will tell you what it looks like. Now, there are a number of things that are very interesting about this model that I would like to point out, and I think they contain the five Cs that I have been sharing with anyone who will listen.
Well, the first C is candour, which I describe as a genuine, honest assessment of where we are. I’m talking about something that can only happen in a psychologically safe environment. And we must get to a point, and I’ve seen that with organizations, where there has been candour, there has been change.
The other thing that’s happened that is a very important killer if it’s not minded properly is cohesion, which is this connection of the dots between the different things that we are doing. How do we link up the efforts for diversity and inclusion to the bottom line? How do we link up our efforts to increase representation to the people that come in, ensuring that we have a truly intersectional approach?
The third C is consistency. This is something that we have learned from the world of safety. We have learned through constant reinforcement that it’s not the big things that we do, it’s the little things that we do that genuinely shift the dial and make all the difference. Think of any aspect of our processes, and safety is a part of it. Consistency is the way we move forward. Another thing that is really an offshoot and a continuation of that consistency is the word continuity. And Holly spoke earlier about succession planning. We should start to think about that when we appoint a head of diversity. And I’ve seen it so many times when a person gets appointed, a new leader gets appointed, and they just start all over again.
The fourth C, and all of this that I’ve been talking about so far is continuity and the ways in which we imbibe safety. It was a way we move from what I call a CSR model, which is all about what we do for the community, and more of a safety model, which is more about how we operate as a business.
The final C that I will share with you is the word coalition. When Martin Luther King first visited India, he just won the Nobel Peace Prize. He was invited to a group called The Untouchables, who are the lowest in the Indian caste system. When he was going to be introduced, the host said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you another Untouchable.” Martin Luther King was taken aback by that. But when he thought about the 20 million Americans who he represented, he started to see a genuine coalition, a genuine connection between his experience and the experiences of these Untouchables. And I think that that’s where real allyship comes from. It’s not an act of charity, it’s something that we do because we see in the suffering of others some of our own. Because when we do that, maybe, just maybe, we may see the end of racism. Thank you very much.
See Ollie delivering his presentation at DisruptHR Aberdeen here >>>> https://vimeo.com/876138777
More talks from DisruptHR Aberdeen here >>>> https://hunteradams.co.uk/blog/disrupthr-aberdeen/