Being an ally: Why Diversity and Inclusion is not just a tick box exerciseAuthor: Alex Allen, Chair of iMultiply's Diversity and Inclusion Committee
June is Pride Month and Chair of iMultiply’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Alex Allen, thought this would be as good a time as any to reflect on the company’s D&I journey. As well as reaffirming why this is a top priority and part of iMultiply’s DNA.
Three years ago, iMultiply established its D&I committee to give a structured and coordinated approach to our D&I strategy. Prior to this, some excellent work had already been done in this area by the Leadership group and the Board. However, we felt that this work needed to be more organised, formalised, and more ambitious! I think we have made some great advancements in our journey to promote Diversity and Inclusion. I also wanted to take the time to acknowledge our successes, reflect on where we need to do better, and restate why this is a priority for the business.
Why is Diversity and Inclusion important to us?
Why is this important to iMultiply? Well, I’ll get the obvious and maybe the ‘realpolitik’ reason out of the way first. Having a D&I strategy makes commercial sense. By being inclusive, we are opening ourselves up to a larger candidate pool. We can also engage with customers who require their official recruitment partners to have a D&I strategy. Having Diversity and Inclusion as central to our outlook and strategy is not a ‘nice to have’. Instead, we consider it as fundamental to the businesses’ success.
Having people from diverse backgrounds in a decision-making process is also the most effective way to block ‘groupthink’ and one of the best ways to ensure that we continue to have innovative and original ideas as a business. However, as essential as these reasons are, it is not the main reason. The main reason is simply – it’s the right thing to do.
As a Business we are very much part of wider society and, as such, have a responsibility to do our best to ensure everyone is supported, listened to and given opportunities. We all want to live in a society where we can be our ‘whole self’ whether that’s in our private lives or at work and should not feel we need to hide any aspect of ourselves or suffer any kind of discrimination because of our background, gender, ethnicity, physical ability or sexual orientation. All our lives are richer for living in a society where everyone is treated with dignity and respect, and afforded equal opportunity.
Living our values
One of our core values as an organisation from the very beginning is Inclusion. We would not be living our values unless we actively put resources, energy and commitment into being as Diverse and Inclusive as possible. However, this is not a tick box exercise for us, and it is not virtue signalling. If it was, I believe we would be found out very quickly and would be seen to be false and disingenuous, which I know we are definitely not.
As with anything worthwhile action speaks louder than words and without action all of the above could be considered tokenism
Our recent journey
During all the bad news last year, one of the real positives was that LGBT Youth Scotland awarded iMultiply Silver Charter status. Most importantly, this is an achievement that we hold very close to our hearts. LGBT Youth Scotland provided us with fantastic internal training sessions. They also continue to support us in ensuring that we are an ally to that community and a safe, supportive place for finance professionals who identify with that community to come and discuss their career.
We have also had engagement with the BME community through the Black Professionals Scotland network. Moreover, members of our team have attended webinars hosted by community members. These webinars have helped us understand better some of the challenges job-seekers from that community face and how we can better help them in the future. We look forward to working together with the BPS and other ethnic minority networks going forward.
In addition to this, some of our team have recently started to display our preferred pronouns on our email headers and LinkedIn profiles. This is a small gesture but we hope as a result of this we are showing support and solidarity to the Trans community, so that community members know iMultiply is a safe and supportive place for them. This small change has already led to some interesting and progressive conversations within our networks.
There is still work to do, and my aim is for us to engage more with other communities and groups who need support.
Over the past few years, the landscape has dramatically changed when it comes to Diversity and Inclusion. The world has seen the effect of people challenging unacceptable behaviours through the #MeToo movement and Black Lives Matter. Together with the bravery of those standing up for women’s rights and against the LGBT community’s oppression around the world.
As a middle class, straight white male, I recognise my privilege and my responsibility to reach out and offer support and allyship to people and communities who have not had the advantages that I can take for granted. For that, I am glad that the company I work for also shares this outlook.
In the words of one of my favourite Punks bands, Propagandhi,
“That’s why privileged folks like me.”
“Should feel obliged to whine and kick and scream.”
“Until everyone has everything they need.”
If you are interested in hearing more about our commitment to Diversity and Inclusion or how your business can benefit from a similar strategy, please reach out to Alex Allen, on 07719 108 230 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org