WIG Diversity & Inclusion Conference: a 200-strong cross-sector dialogue

WIG’s Diversity & Inclusion Conference 2019

On Friday 29 November The Whitehall & Industry Group held its sixth Diversity & Inclusion Conference, a now established event for HR and D&I professionals, unique in its cross-sector perspective. 

More than 200 delegates, from within our membership and beyond, had a chance to listen to keynote speakers and panellists from the Cabinet Office, Channel 4, Mondelez, Serco, CGI, London Borough of Croydon, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and King’s College London.

The afternoon was broken down into three streams, looking at Identity, Ability and Culture. A number of engaging case studies from public, private and not-for-profit organisations were shared with the audience. Delegates heard examples of how organisations tackle issues such as the gender and ethnicity pay gap, mental health training, dealing with bullying and harassment, promoting transgender visibility, embedding a menopause policy, empowering BAME talent, lack of representation in the boardroom (with a focus on disability), establishing and supporting staff networks, and recognising the neurodiversity advantage.

Some of the recurring themes from the day that arch across all sectors were intersectionality, with Anthony Kirby, Group HR Director at Serco talking about “using the weight of our collective to improve intersectionality”, and Melanie Dawes, Permanent Secretary of MHCLG also touching on “getting more intersectional, listening to groups most underrepresented”; organisational culture, and how “D&I is a great way to get into the deep and important conversations about the culture of the organisation” (Rupert McNeil, Chief People Officer, Cabinet Office), segmentation and metrics, and how different organisations are using data to keep track of their progress when addressing underrepresentation in certain segments (this was touched upon by multiple speakers, with Rupert McNeil mentioning how the Civil Service is measuring their progress and Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon making a compelling case for even societal representation from a broadcaster, both in programmes and in advertising); finally, the commercial case for D&I was also made by multiple speakers, with data shown to demonstrate that diverse organisations are more successful, more innovative and more attractive to future talent.

Some of the soundbites from the day (some are non-attributable due to a number of sessions being conducted under the Chatham House rule):

Diverse organisations increase their innovation mindset six-fold, outperform on profitability by 33%, inclusive teams make 87% better business decisions.” (Alex Mahon, CEO Channel 4).

The impact of role models on representation: 40% of top-grossing films failed the Bechdel test (having one scene in which women talk to each other about something other than a man)” (Channel 4 presentation).

People designing products have to represent the diversity of the customers they are designing for.

It is important to embrace diversity not just for the moral case, but for the business case.

D&I: don’t just talk about it, measure it!

 “(When hiring persons with a disability) the focus should not be on what you cannot do, but on what you can do.”

You have to move with absolute authenticity as a leader (to affect change in the D&I space)”.

The event was kindly supported by Serco and HR Magazine (media partner). To see the programme, go here. For other events under the D&I theme, please keep an eye on our website.