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The inclusion and diversity agenda in business has been one of the most dynamic in recent years. Get it right, and diversity is a compelling source of innovation and creativity, with research pointing to an innovation mindset six times higher in the most-equal cultures than in the least equal ones.
Gender balance has been talked about and tackled head on, with tangible progress towards equality, demonstrated through efforts to narrow gender pay gaps across business. So much so, that while there’s much more still to do, the conversation both globally and locally is moving on.
Inclusion and diversity cannot be simply and conveniently defined as “men vs. women”. Intersectionality- the points of overlap or connection between diverse social groups such as race, class, gender and sexuality, where discrimination or disadvantage is amplified- is now becoming front and center of the debate.
Moreover, some staff from ethnic backgrounds have reported experiencing a “double life”, while male couples have faced very different challenges to heterosexual colleagues when paternity leave is discussed. Everyone who took part in the initiative talked about greater visibility of their challenges as being key to breaking down stereotypes and moving towards normalization.
Beyond the LGBT+ community, the intersectionality debate is increasingly embracing social mobility and the equality of opportunity for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Entry into business is gradually being opened up by new apprenticeship schemes, highlighting to many the problems faced when gender, class and ethnicity overlap.
Businesses cannot be truly representative until they are more diverse, while leaders must be authentic to build trust. That’s why, as with the move towards gender equality, all organizations need to consider the issues of intersectionality. The policies we put in place and the culture we promote within our organizations must support all of our colleagues.