We were joined by diversity and inclusion expert Stephen Frost for this Business Brunch. Stephen founded the workplace team at Stonewall and has advised both the White House and UK government on diversity issues, as well as leading on diversity for the London Olympics and paralympics.
Our guest experts alongside Stephen were HR Consultant Linda Hughes of Dynamic Coach Group, Head of HR at Blenheim Palace, Megan Carter and Director of Strategy at You HR Consultancy, Ian Mundy.
Stephen was asked by Megan and Linda what he would advise an organisation to do to be more inclusive.
“There’s three things I would advise them to do. Firstly, actually do something strategic ….. ask the people running the company what they do now and how their behaviour/activity could affect the whole purpose of the organisation. That could be a chat, a workshop or it could be holiday. That’s the first thing I would do, to stop thinking and start doing. For example, if you produce something, think about introducing diversity in to the design stage so you produce products that work for everybody, not just some people.
“Secondly for me it has to be data…. actually measure your diversity, your engagement and how that’s progressing in the organisation. A lot of people in an organisation know their area of expertise but they don’t know their people. A lot of diversity is invisible, so data is an important way of getting to know your people…both staff and customers.”
“The third one is accountability, decision making and governance. Establish who is actually responsible for this. Make sure it’s not just thrown over the fence to HR and ensure everyone knows it’s everyone’s responsibility, they need to be accountable for the decisions they make and the behaviours they exhibit, every day.”
The question of leadership was raised by Ian and how an organisation could lead on diversity and inclusion, not just in LGBT History Month, but beyond. Stephen commented. “It’s an important question but I want to be really positive to kick off. If we look back at the last ten years and how far we’ve come with LGBT+ equality, it’s been really, really positive. In recent history there’s been a string of legislative changes including adoption rights, employment rights and civil partnership, so really good changes. But one of the reasons that’s happened and why there’s been so much progress is because most straight people know somebody that’s LGBT+. They’re not scared anymore, it’s actually just part of the family, workplace and community, and most people know somebody that’s different from them.
“It’s that coming together, that affinity that actually creates inclusion. If you, look for example, at other areas like race, there’s still a lot more work to do. Most white people in 2021 still don’t know someone who’s Black and that lack of affinity is a real barrier to inclusion. So when it comes to LGBT+, the message is ‘keep doing good stuff’. Keep reaching out and being an ally if you’re straight, don’t be a bystander, do call out homophobic comments. Take on the burden of making sure that terminology, language and policies are inclusive and don’t just expect other people to pick it up if they’re in a minority.
“If you don’t know someone who’s LGBT, reach out and find out how you can change that because mixing with people who are different to you is the best way to be inclusive.”
Catch up with the full discussion at the links below, either on video or podcast.
Stephen Frost is CEO and founder of global diversity and inclusion consultancy Frost Included and co-author of Building An Inclusive Organisation, published by Kogan Page. Find out more from Frost Included’s 2020 Impact Report.