Atos hosts 4th Diversity & Inclusion Expo
Rachel Edwards, Head of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion UK&I
Rachel is leading Atos’ UK&I Diversity & Inclusion work, championing our strategy for our employees, customers and partners. She supports our diversity networks, executive team and employees in promoting a more inclusive working environment for all.
On the 29 and 30 September, Atos ran its fourth Diversity & Inclusion Expo. Amidst a global pandemic and worldwide racial awakening triggered by George Floyd’s death, our theme – The Diversity Decade – had never felt more apt.
As the host of the event and lead for Diversity & Inclusion in the UK&I, I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on some of the learnings I personally took away from our speakers. The expo is a fantastic opportunity for reflection and learning, and if you would like to learn more you can watch highlights from the event.
Diversity & Inclusion must come from the top
Atos’ UK&I CEO Clay Van Doren opened the event with some important thoughts on why it’s crucial that organisations prioritise D&I and that this commitment comes directly from business leaders. Sarah Foster-Cook – Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Lead at Google EMEA – added to this when she spoke about how the CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, makes a really clear connection between their mission and the work they need to do in driving diversity across the organisation.
Diversity & Inclusion is evolving, now let’s add equity
It’s important that all employees understand the priorities within diversity and inclusion. Diversity is about representation in our teams – both with regards to our workforce and whether they represent our customers, as well our leadership team and whether they represent their teams. But it goes further. Google reflected on the addition of ‘equity’. Equity is about outcomes; making sure employees have their individual needs met so we can strive for equitable outcomes for everyone. Inclusion is the final piece that brings it all together. After all, there is no value in diverse teams unless you have an inclusive culture that empowers them.
Diversity & Inclusion should be treated like a business project
Diversity delivers better business results – better decisions, better culture and financial results. Ann Francke, CEO of Charted Management Institute, pointed out that this makes D&I a business project: “Would any of you watching consider running a business initiative without setting a target?”
Such a reflection is powerful. Some people have criticised targets, but ultimately, as diversity is a business project, you need those targets to know if you’re succeeding and how much progress you are making. No organisation will make real, significant progress without having targets.
‘Inaction’ is in the definition of racism
Anti-racism has been an important term for us all this year and Louise Harris, Director of Corporate Services at Amnesty UK and trustee of housing charity Framework, made an interesting observation on the definition of racism including ‘inaction.’ For me, this sums up anti-racism. Many of us would not consider ourselves to be ‘racists’, but have we done enough to be proactively not-racist? I found Louise’s session to be thought-provoking. She asked herself how many times she’d been passive in the face of racism. Her reflections come from a place of vulnerability; this was part of her journey as a person of colour and was transformational for her. She challenged herself and the audience to consider how everyone can play a more active role in tackling racism by standing up in the face of injustice and speaking out for change.
Allies must be part of the conversation
Our expo looked at why having allies who support the same values and causes around diversity and inclusion is such an important part of driving change. In our ‘We are Allies’ session we highlighted our work to engage allies, emphasising the importance that everyone should play a role in engendering diversity and inclusion. One of our client executives, Graham Scanlon, presented a personal case study about why D&I forms such a key part of his leadership of teams. I was particularly pleased to see many of our employees celebrating his words in our interactive chat, thanking him for speaking out. It really goes to show what an influence senior D&I advocates and role models can have.
We are all remarkable
I’d be remiss not to mention the brilliant and remarkable session from Google which closed the event. I hadn’t been expecting to ‘take part’ in the workshop as I had invited some lucky Atos employees, clients and partners to do this, so was slightly caught off guard when Moriah, who was leading the session, ended the meeting asking me to call out why ‘I am remarkable’. It surprised me at how emotional I felt declaring my thoughts on this in a public forum. It definitely brought home the impact of empowerment and encouraged me to acknowledge my own achievements. I’m looking forward to continuing that journey with Atos, where we’re now arranging our own training sessions to maintain momentum around D&I. I know the people who took part left enthused and excited for their futures, as well as feeling a strong sense of wanting to help others.