It’s been several years since I started running FL and actively approaching organizations in our bid to support them in achieving their gender diversity targets and creating inclusive workplaces. Given the seemingly public zeal for achieving gender balance on boards, why has progress been so slow? It’s been insightful speaking with Diversity, Equality & Inclusion (DE&I) teams and finding out what their challenges.
Griselda Togobo; Article from Yorkshire Post
Here are 3 of the top challenges I see DE&I teams facing across the UK:
1. Lack of adequate resources allocation to diversity teams
Most teams do not have the resources needed to be able to make any significant headway with the goals they are trying to achieve. Money is always an issue with corporate budgets being squeezed and departments being asked to find savings but the lack of investment in diversity and inclusion initiatives particularly those that are gender related goes to show the lack of prioritization it has in the corporate agenda.
Are you allocating the same resources to women in your team as you are to the men (aka the status quo) in your team or the other diverse groups? Most diversity networks and initiatives are run by volunteers who have to do this in addition to their day jobs. Surely if diversity is an organisations priority then they should give their teams time to work on this and the resources to make a good crack at it. Most people volunteering for these roles are women because they are actively seeking a way to create change and impact their organisations in a positive way. We know we have the gender gap which means most women are paid less but also most importantly fewer women have access to the same level of leadership development and investment in training courses and coaching as their male counterparts. Women are not only unpaid but also underinvested in. This needs to change if we really want to build diverse teams and reap the benefits of increased innovation and return on investment.
2. Lack of senior leadership buy-in and commitment
We’ve all heard about the benefits of diversity but do we believe it. Any effort to advance gender equality must start with leadership. Does your leadership really believe that achieving gender diversity and supporting women, investing in their development will pay great dividend in the long term? Do they believe that women are equal to men and that employing a young woman is less hustle than employing a young man? Or are they just paying lip service and providing just enough support to get all the right boxes ticked off. As one leader said, we need to “be seen “ as supporting diversity.
Great leaders should be advocates of diversity – personally committed to this course by supporting the goals and aspirations of all members of their teams. They should be treating the lack of diversity in their organizations like any other business issue and allocate adequate funding and resource to it.
3. Short-term thinking
Change takes time, effort and focus. It takes time to raise awareness and to communicate the benefits of diversity to all levels of the organisation. It takes time to bring men on board to the understanding that gender-specific initiatives are not going to affect them adversely – it’s not about losing jobs to women. It’s about creating a more successful organization for everybody and removing barriers and obstacles that prevent women from progressing within their organisations. It’s about attracting the best people and talent to grow the business. Achieving real cultural change takes time, there are no quick fixes. It’s a different mindset from the quick wins that fix a troubled bottom-line.
How can you be the best company for your customers? How can you develop the best teams to support this bold vision? A significant part of being the best company is understanding and meeting the needs of all your customers male, female, black, white, brown, yellow, red or green, Asian, old or young, straight or LGBTQ, able-bodied or not.
Are you working with the best?
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