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Series One, Episode Five: Creating and Retaining a Diverse Workforce

Andy Woodfield, Partner at PWC, and Michael Ollitervo-Murphy, Customer Experience Leader at Mercer – UK & Ireland, discuss the importance of engaging and empowering allies, creating inclusive business networks, reverse mentoring, the language around diversity and ‘Inclusive Leadership’. Some progress has been made in areas such as LGBTQ, however other areas such as mental health currently lag behind.

Andy Woodfield

Andy became a partner at PWC on 1st of July 2006, and is now the Lead Partner for the International Aid Development Consulting practice at PwC in the United Kingdom.

Working primarily with the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), they use the Global network of PwC member firms and associated subject matter experts to improve the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable in the world and to promote sustainable economic development and prosperity. Andy is also part of the People Consulting competency responsible for the development and delivery of Leadership, Culture, Talent and Inclusion programmes within PwC and with Clients, with a focus on helping individuals, teams and organisations to be the best that they can be, unlocking their full market and individual human potential.

Andy has developed a number of ground breaking human development programmes including ‘Building Strength in Leaders’ and ‘Genius. Power. Dreams’, which aims to help individuals and teams understand and respect their unique strengths and talents, understand how to use them more often, and finally to consider their legacy of life.

Andy is the sponsoring Partner for the firm’s inclusive business network, GLEE@PwC, an inclusive business network for gays, lesbians and everyone else, He is a regular public speaker, usually focusing on the Strengths based development and Diversity and Inclusion. He has completed two TED Talks and has recently spoken on Gender Equality at the United Nations HQ in New York.

Andy is a Trustee for the charities: Diversity Role Models, Action Breaks Silence and Opening Doors London. He is a judge for the National Diversity Awards, the Inclusive Business Awards, the We Are The City Rising Stars and the head judge for the Australian LGBTI Awards.

You can follow Andy on Twitter @andy_woodfield

Michael Ollitervo-Murphy

Michael Ollitervo-Murphy is the Customer Experience Leader at Mercer UK & Ireland. His passion is taking the customer experience and driving it through the organisation to make sure that the customer is at the heart of the business. With 15 years of international operational management and strategic delivery around customer experience, customer service & service design, he is able to deliver tangible results through engaging the business and the people within the business to deliver the company vision.

In addition to his customer experience role, Michael is also Co-chair of Mercer’s UK LGBT + ally chapter, responsible for supporting Mercer’s D&I goals to increase equality and awareness around inclusion through engagement, education and empowerment.

You can follow Michael on Twitter @MOMIncUK

Series One, Episode Five Transcript

Julia: Hello and welcome to DiverCity™ Podcast. My name is Julia Streets and today I’m joined by two highly esteemed guests. The first is Andy Woodfield who is the lead partner for the International Aid Development Consulting Practice at PwC in the UK. He’s also part of the People Consulting Competency, which is responsible for development and delivery of leadership culture, talent, and inclusion programs, both within PwC and beyond to its clients. Andy is a sponsoring partner for the firm’s inclusive business network, GLEE@PwC, and is deeply passionate about diversity and inclusion, regularly being called upon to speak, most notably on gender equality at the UN headquarters in New York. A trustee for a number of charities including Diversity Role Models, Action Breaks Silence and Opening Doors, Andy’s also called upon to judge a number of awards including We Are The City’s Rising Stars and the National Diversity Awards. Andy, thank you for joining us.

Andy is joined by Michael Ollitervo-Murphy. Michael is a customer experience leader at Mercer UK and Ireland, and he offers 15 years of experience in international operational management, a career truly centered on customer service, customer design, customer experience, and customer satisfaction. In addition to the day job, Michael is the co-chair of Mercer’s UK LGBT+ ally chapter and his focus is on supporting diversity and inclusion goals to increase the quality and awareness around inclusion, which is all focused on engagement education and empowerment. Michael, thank you for your time to be here.

To start the show we always invite our guests to spend 60 seconds talking about your own organisations and what you’re up to, and then we move onto a further debate. Andy, let me start with you from your perspective at PwC.

Andy: I’d say diversity and inclusion’s become a real obsession of ours. It’s something that we work on every day. I would say that we don’t have it fixed, but we’ve tried almost everything and hopefully I’ll be able to share some of the things that have worked. We have 13 different people networks, so as well as our amazing GLEE@PwC, which is for ‘gays, lesbians, and everybody else’, which is what the GLEE stands for, we have a gender balance network, an ability and disability network, many, many networks on a range of different topics to, I guess, firstly create a safe space for people … but also then to engage the majority of people in a new level of education understanding, to be more open minded and respectful so that we can truly create an environment where people can be themselves. Because as Stonewall would always tell you, when you can be yourself at work, you perform better.

We are decent people, but sometimes people need to understand a different perspective, to understand someone else’s truth, and to understand the impact of some of their views and opinions on others. We desperately want people to not act like they’re successful and not act like they’re happy at work, but to be successful and happy at work, and to be themselves. It’s not just that we’re nice people, we’re doing it for business reasons, because we know that if people can truly be themselves, their emotional energy and capacity is on the job. It’s not on their performance of pretending to be happy or pretending to be successful.

Julia: One of the things we’ve talked a lot about on the podcast series is about when things are aligned around a business corporate intention, that’s when you really drive change. Michael, let me turn to you. I know you’re busy with the Ally Network, tell us about the allies.

Michael: I guess the really important part of any LGBT network and in fact any D&I network is that you’re driving diversity, you’re celebrating diversity, you’re helping people who are from different backgrounds, cultures, faiths, religions, behaviours, genders, sexualities, and every other difference between people, to come together and to feel comfortable together. The really important part, and I think particularly in a large corporation like Mercer, is to drive inclusion as well. So for every colleague who may be part of the LGBT network because they are LGBTQ or any other part of the gender or sexuality spectrum, there is at least three to five times more allies who are straight folks who have a connection with an LGBTQ network. It might be a family member, it might be a friend, it might be a personal experience, it might be just because they are a liberal, progressive, open-minded colleague. It’s really, really important that those people and the voices of our allies are respected and heard because they make a huge difference to us.

Julia: Within large organisations I can see the network effect. We see this a lot in business, which is kind of opening up the networks. Andy, you talk about your 13 networks and Michael with the Ally Network as well. Do you see evidence of that driving organisational change, or does it tend to go one or two layers beyond, and then peters out a bit – how do you push that out even further?

Michael: I think it starts at the top, so we’re very proud of our UK and Ireland CEO, Fiona Dunsire. She really, really does care. We’re an organisation with a lot of actuaries and financial advisors, so numbers are very important to us. One of the really important numbers is putting numbers against what we’re going to do in terms of diversity and inclusion – To double the number of women in senior, high grade roles within the next three years, to double the BAME population within our organisation, not just to get the people through the door but to encourage them to stay. I think there are some really important tasks to be done there. Fiona as the CEO, and our global CEO, Julio Portalatin, are very visible and regularly discuss in their own briefings, at events as they go around the different offices, and to make sure that this stays live.

For example Fiona opened our In This Together conference that we recently hosted at the Tower of London, and she hummed and hawed about sharing a personal story that she entitled ‘Lesbian Shoes’. For those who attended, they’ll know the story I’m talking about. It was really amazing though that she wanted to share, from an ally’s perspective, how it felt to be labeled. So Fiona drives that from the top down. It’s also from the bottom up, so just today I was doing the induction with all of our new recruits, young and old, many different ages, many different backgrounds, and so right from when people join the organisation, as well as hearing about compliance, and HR, and finance, that we include a section on diversity and inclusion to encourage people to be active from the day that they join the organisation. I guess it’s bottom up as well as top down.

Julia: Getting through that middle layer … because I completely understand that the leadership is incredibly important and the appetite for change, or [that] going into very diverse organisations and with young talent coming through … there’s always that middle layer which needs to be cracked through. Andy, from your best practice of driving change and working with those networks, where do you see the sticking points and where do you see the moments where middle management appreciate that they can perform better and get better results if they just open their mindsets and change their behaviours?

Andy: I think we noticed a big change certainly with the GLEE network, when we launched that in early 2012. Prior to that we had an LGBT network, which was a great network and it had been around for about 10 or 15 years I think. Primarily, kind of a campaigning network, almost against the firm, to make sure that we had equality in our policies. We were very proud at that stage to be at the forefront of equal policies for same sex partners. Then that kind of campaigning needed to change. We got to a point where it was mostly gay men, and it mostly involved going out. Surprisingly there weren’t that many women that wanted to go out every night with gay men. So we changed the whole thing up and made it an inclusive business network. That really brought many more women into the group. We made sure that it was truly inclusive, so you didn’t have to be gay to be part of that network, you just had to care about the value of difference in the workplace. We made it-

Julia: Almost to the ally concept that you were talking about…

Andy: Yeah, absolutely, so you didn’t need a label, you didn’t need to label everyone, you just needed to be respectful. It was about personal and professional development and growth. We gave people an opportunity to grow professionally, but also to meet their clients. All of our events are open to everybody, regardless of whether they work for PwC or not. We deliberately invite our client teams and their clients to come to our events and we do joint events with our clients. That, in terms of the permafrost, as you describe it, it meant that people that were perhaps at the senior manager level, only really interested in their career progression – maybe – I would say they are interested in our people because that’s all we’ve got, they got more engaged in the topic because they could meet clients and they could see opportunities from it. Then they realised that it was okay to be themselves, because their clients are being themselves and we’re encouraging it.

It’s not a secret club where they would have to go and suddenly everyone knows you’re gay, or you’re bisexual, or whatever. It’s about being yourself in order to grow in your profession and to create business opportunities by connecting with like-minded people and your clients. Suddenly it’s a hell of a lot more relevant. Also then it helps to bring in … I think a lot of LGBT networks in particular are kind of preaching to the choir as it were, and a lot of networks preach to the choir, but it’s like with women’s networks, it’s like nothing’s ever going to change around gender balance unless you include men.

Julia: One of the things that I’ve really enjoyed is this focus on trying to chip away at the bit in the middle. It’s widely understood that when middle management become enlightened to the need for change, then we could see a tipping point. However, it’s not easy. You have to change some of those entrenched behaviours. Can you share some insights into how you’ve tackled that problem?

Andy: I think the thing that still stands out for me is reverse mentoring. We have run a program in our consulting business for the last … I think we started in 2015. It’s been really successful. All our partners and leaders then at all levels are matched with someone at a junior level to them who is either a different gender or different ethnic background to them. They spend a year together in initially quite structured conversation, but essentially to let the senior person understand what the lived experience of the junior person is in our firm. It’s been remarkably powerful at creating advocates for change.

To give you an idea of the kind of impact, so in the past I might have been sat in a resourcing meeting about who’s going onto what projects, or a meeting about who we might recruit next, or a meeting about moderation of talent in terms of their performance ratings. I would always find myself saying, “Oh, hang on a minute, have you noticed that you’re talking about a bunch of white guys?” Or, “Why is it that everyone who’s different has got a lower rating?” It was kind of getting a bit boring that I’m always in a room full of people, men and women, and I’m the one having to constantly raise this, and everyone’s like, “Oh Andy’s off again on his old diversity thing.” It was getting kind of tedious.

After this program launched, I swear to God, I didn’t have to say a word. There were other partners in our business who were in there first saying, “Hang on a minute, this isn’t right. Let’s change that. Did you know this? Did you know that?” It was amazing. What we found was that most of our senior leaders got really passionate about gender equality for example, when their daughter went to work.

Julia: Right. Dads and daughters.

Andy: It’s crazy isn’t it? So I’m like, “Well we can’t afford to wait for everyone to have a daughter who came to work, so let’s give everyone a younger person from our firm and share their lived experiences.” The great thing about it is it’s emotional learning, not intellectual and logical learning. That’s what really gets people. Then their behaviour changes.

Julia: People talk a lot about coaching, and role models, and mentoring, et cetera. Michael, just responding to what Andy was just saying, is that something that you’ve been looking at as well in terms of the dynamics of showcasing and collaborative working to shift change?

Michael: It kind of takes me back to … So I spent seven years heading up customer service for Virgin Group globally, and Richard Branson’s ethos was about flipping the usual business model on the head. He said that, “If you have happy, engaged employees, they deliver delight to customers. Delighted customers spend more, stay longer, save you a fortune on marketing, and will ultimately deliver the shareholder return.” The point is that if I want my people to love my customers and my clients, they need to empathise. What we’re doing with this reverse mentoring approach is really great, because we’re not seeing the middle management as the problem and [run the risk of] backing these kind of male, white, seniors into a corner.

What we’re saying is that we acknowledge that there is an issue that needs to be fixed, but let’s empathise, and if they don’t know how to approach a lesbian member of their team and say, “How was your weekend? Is it your partner? Or your girlfriend? I don’t know what to say.” Then let’s not see it as a problem, let’s empower and engage these people. I think this is the brilliant part of reverse mentoring and it has such a positive effect.

Julia: I do wonder whether actually, in some of the LGBT networks, has that shifted into being much more open about inviting more people in? I’m really interested by the whole idea of inviting your clients into that. Are you seeing more demand from clients to demonstrate that you’re thinking more broadly about diversity and inclusion as an organisation? Or is it just a, it’s good to know you’ve got a scheme?

Michael: I think there is a mixture. There is definitely potentially some box ticking going on, but some of our clients are pushing quite hard to see demonstration of our commitment and of tangible results. The most progressive, and I guess the most visible part that I see, and it’s back to the point around that ice cold, frozen middle layer, is that there are a lot of people who don’t know what to do, and they almost remove themselves from the corporate organisation. I realise that there was a lot of discomfort, some of our clients didn’t know how to talk to us, we didn’t know how to talk to some of our corporate clients. Do you just chat about your wife when you’re a woman and just suddenly slip it into the conversation?

We decided to run a series of events that we’re calling Unbundling. We had Unbundling Trans, Unbundling Lesbians, Unbundling LGBT and Families happening next week in our Woking office and we’re live-streaming it across multiple offices, and again, getting clients to come in and listen in, share, ask questions. Making an open, honest, safe space where those who don’t know can ask, because it’s not just about a safe space for LGBTQ folks, it’s also about a safe space for those who are on the periphery of the allies who say, “I would love to be able to support this person in my team, or have this conversation with my client. I don’t know if I can use the word queer or not.”

Julia: Right, yeah. Actually language comes with the essence of change so much. Again, throughout the podcast we’ve been hearing people say, “you need to be quite brave to admit that you don’t know”. For individuals it’s almost binary where people go, “I want to engage.” Or, “I don’t want to engage.” There’s a push and pull about going, “it’s not that scary” and that mindset shift comes with it. Are you doing lots … Do you see initiatives that are really tackling that core question about language and tackling the uncomfortable conversations, Andy?

Andy: Yeah, so we have a program called Colour Brave which is about talking about race, in particular what the barriers are for black women and men in business and in our business specifically. That came from a piece of social media that I did a while ago, where my entire social media audience who will happily retweet a pair of Louis Vuitton shoes wouldn’t retweet anything about race. When I engaged them they said … in a poll … 70-odd percent … of them said that they were scared to talk about race. I think this idea of stories, of conversation, of creating safe space for conversation in order to bring the majority of people into what sometimes feels like a minority conversation is really important. Our Colour Brave initiative is about being brave to talk about colour and race – being brave enough to get it wrong, but being respectful enough to listen to the other person’s truth and understand that. And to really take action.

From a race perspective this issue of progression for black women and men in British business has been observed for a very long time, but it needs dealing with. If we’re to deal with this kind of issue, as a white guy, I have to shut up and listen, and understand, and try to learn something, and I need to take action. One of the things I chose to do was to do a series of ‘Carpool’ kind of interviews with a number of senior black women and men to really understand what those issues are, what those barriers are, so I can learn, but also to try to share that learning. If we are not prepared to create this space for conversation, we will not learn, and then we will not have an opportunity to implement what we have learnt. It starts with that space and that learning and the conversation.

Julia: Are you finding that the different networks are learning from each other as well? I wonder whether there’s progress in isolation sometimes? Can we see evidence where the LGBT networks, that may well be in some regards heralded as the great progressors if you look at the journey that we’ve been through, can actually show some best practice to questions around race. Are we seeing some cross-learning in that?

Michael: I think in an organisation, what I do in terms of the LGBTQ work is secondary to my day job and I have an incredibly supportive boss, who happens to report to the CEO, who allows me to do what I need to do because he understands the value that it brings to our organisation. I very quickly realised that you can spin in the dark, kind of shouting and trying to influence. Any larger organisation, corporates with multiple offices … We’re fortunate enough to be part of multiple groups, so working with our sister companies, Oliver Wyman, Guy Carpenter, and Marsh, allowed us to do the ‘In This Together’ event, where we wouldn’t have probably been able to do that in such a short space of time had we just been working as Mercer.

Also then to work across the different business resource groups to work with VINE, the Women’s Network, the Growing Professional Network that was the Young Professional Network, our AIM, access and disability network, and our BAME network, actually there are a lot of common issues that we face. Again, there are a lot of allies who want to work with us, want to help us, that actually don’t know what they need to do or how they can engage. By sharing I think you can pick up on some useful advice. I think as well what you see is, it’s not just doing it within your own company, you go along to most events, evening events, lunchtime events, and they are open to other organisations and you find yourself in a competitor’s office listening on a topic that is something that your organisation wants to learn on. It’s very nice to see that that humbling effect of D&I actually removes the competitive spirit, because where we can share a success that we’ve had between businesses rather than keeping it as intellectual property is something that I think we should all be proud of.

Andy: That, I think is really important to do the inside, outside thing, but also to do the intersectionality thing. We, for a long time, came to the conclusion that we couldn’t run LGBT-only events. As a gay man, I am a gay man but I’m also a partner in PwC, I’m also lots of other things, I’ve got other responsibilities and I and many other people manifest into many different networks. Whether you’re a parent, a carer, whether you have a disability, I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t struggle at some level with mental health. We take all these strands individually and often there are events that are designed for individual elements of who we are as human beings, but that’s not how we are.

We made a decision a few years ago that all of our events would be in conjunction with another one of our people networks. We would do work with our BAME network, with our other faith networks around faith and sexuality, with our mental health network. Also then to do that with a client, so this collaboration with a client, so it’s internal, external, and multi strand. You don’t just get stuck in your corner as an LGBT network. We found it to be much more powerful. In that way, to come back to your question, we were able to share our platform that we’d created with our GLEE network, with the other networks that maybe weren’t quite as out there. I mean obviously you get a bunch of gay folks together and their allies, they’re all very energetic and they want to change the world, and we do.

We realised that we’d created a great platform, we had amazing sponsorship, as did the other networks, but they hadn’t always activated that sponsorship in terms of executive level sponsorship in the way we had, so we were able to pull them in together by doing events together and working more effectively together to change things.

Michael: It’s a great example with the … what we’ve achieved as LGBTQ networks, and marriage equality, we’ve ticked the box, we’re pretty well almost in the inner circle now, oh great, so we can feel like we’ve made it. When you think about admitting to mental health issues in the workplace at any level, whether it’s you or your family member, and that it is impacting your ability, there is still so much stigma associated with certain issues and I think we may have to think quite far back in the UK when it felt so uncomfortable to be LGBTQ, you know? Certainly my early career in corporates left me with a very bitter taste in my mouth and I left corporates for a good 15, 20 years, to work in technology and startups where there wasn’t any of that bias and that discrimination. I need to remember back to how it felt in that scenario, because this is in reality how it feels perhaps for those with mental health issues.

In order to support our perhaps newer people groups, we need to think back to how we made that early progress. I think the energy that we have now comes from the progress we’ve made. For the newer resource groups, it’s really, really hard slog that they’re making tiny, tiny steps and they can’t see light at the end of the tunnel so I think it’s so, so important, that I love the idea of partnering always with events. We’ve got a lot of interest in mental health, we realize in Mercer that it’s one of the, if not the largest, reason for absenteeism in the workplace, and so there’s a real business cost to it as well. So it’s in the business’s benefit to fix awareness and to make things much more comfortable for people.

Julia: Let’s take a quick pause there and hear what data and detail Robert and Cynthia have found. Just before we do, I wanted to get a bit of housekeeping out of the way. If you enjoy DiverCity™ Podcast and subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, could you please give us a review or a rating because it really does help promote the show to a wider audience. So Robert, Cynthia, I believe you’ve been looking at the importance of mental health in the workplace this week.

Cynthia: That’s right Julia. Working conditions and the working environment can have a huge impact on mental wellbeing, and equally someone’s mental health can have a big impact on their ability to do their job well.

Robert: According to the charity, the Mental Health Foundation in the UK, around one in seven people experience mental health problems in the workplace. Women in full-time employment are nearly twice as likely to have a common mental health problem as men who are employed full-time. The charity also says that one in every eight days taken off for sickness can be attributed to a mental health condition.

Julia: Clearly there are benefits for both the employee and the employer when we invest in mental health.

Robert: Absolutely. We know employees will benefit directly from investment in their mental wellbeing, however it’s worth pointing out that the mental health foundation also reckons money spent on mental health support can save UK businesses themselves up to eight billion pounds per year. I’d say that would be money well spent.

Cynthia: Mental health’s a subject we haven’t yet covered on the show, but we do have plans to bring it to our discussions in a future episode. Just a final point before we go, over the last few weeks a lot of our guests have talked about the importance of mentoring. To back this up, the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey suggests having a great mentor is a key factor in improving employee engagement for the 18 to 25 year old age group. The survey said that millennials planning to stay with their employer for over five years were twice as likely to have had a mentor than not. For those planning to leave their employer within two years, over a third were unhappy with their mentoring they had received. Again, it seems as though proper investment in staff development is a price worth paying.

Julia: Indeed, and thank you very much Cynthia and Robert. If you want to find out more about any of that research you can find the links on our website

I’m interested in the whole LGBTQ+ spectrum, if you like. Are there some areas that are more progressive and more advanced than others? Are there discrepancies?

Michael: I think the reality is in many organisations, and Mercer included, that it started out as quite a gay-centric focus to achieve gay rights. Somewhere along the way, whilst we’ve strapped on various additional letters, I’m not so sure that we have ensured that we have been fully inclusive within our LGBTQ chapter. For example at Mercer, following our Unbundling Lesbian event, we realised that a lot of our women, our lesbian and bisexual colleagues, didn’t feel connected enough to be part of the network. They didn’t see relevance for them. This was interestingly the same whether you were single, civil partnered or married, or with kids. It almost felt that we were excluding our colleagues.

It was somewhat uncomfortable that when we drilled down into this and realised that what we needed to do was we wanted to connect up our colleagues and make them feel more empowered. What we needed to do was to reach outside of our organisation and working with an organisation called LB Women, which is a network exclusively for lesbian and bisexual women, to mentor, to network, a lot of it online and virtually, and to encourage and support empowerment. We realised partnering with an organisation that actually encouraged exclusion didn’t feel like it was fitting our diversity and inclusion approach, and that felt very uncomfortable. But as a network we talked, we discussed with our LGBTQ colleagues and our allies, and we realised that for the greater good, that this was a step that we needed to take.

Within the first few months we’ve seen some great progress. We’ve seen our active involvement in the network, attending our regular events and our monthly meetings, increase to the extent that at our last meeting women outnumbered men, which was a really happy moment for us. It means that women can, in their own time, if you’re a busy working mum and you don’t necessarily have time in the workplace, that this network allows people to connect outside of the work time as well, and to work at their own pace to address their own concerns and fears.

Julia: Was that because it was much more subject matter driven in terms of aspects around being lesbian, bisexual, parenting? Or being in bisexual civil partnerships, those individual cases almost?

Michael: I think it’s something that we see more coming through with millennials who are less inclined to assign themselves with fixed, rigid, gender and sexuality brackets. A female colleague of mine who has always dated and slept with women doesn’t necessarily feel comfortable to label herself as a lesbian because she just doesn’t feel comfortable to label herself. That seems to be quite a trend with the millennial generation who are much more comfortable. Perhaps my generation, as a previous generation who faced greater degrees of discrimination, are proud to wear the gay, the lesbian, the bisexual, or the transsexual badge. For younger generations who perhaps were born into a more progressive society, that’s less important for them, and that’s a good thing.

Julia: There’s a grey area in-between, which is for example my experience, is actually a gay woman in the city, is that I just wanted to keep my head down, I worked in the world of capital markets, I just wanted to get the job done and be known for the job that I was doing. Then obviously I think now about the context of being role models, et cetera, but actually there are different dynamics at play. Sometimes there are fluid definitions, as we’re saying, and sometimes it’s about a willingness to engage in relevance as an organisation as well. In the context of all that fluidity, Andy, we’re talking about diversity and inclusion in its purest sense, right the way across the board. When you’re leading a dynamic organisation where all of these elements come into play, what are the key things people should be thinking about in terms of inclusive leadership?

Andy: I think it’s really interesting. I think everyone’s rightly obsessed with trying to get a diverse workforce. Recruitment policies, equal pay, et cetera, et cetera, to try to make sure you encourage diversity or diverse looking employees. You have a lovely portfolio of pictures that you can put in your annual report.

So it’s a great to have a diverse looking set of staff or employees, but are you really allowing them to be different? I see these things as kind of like a maturity level, that you’ve got a diverse looking organisation, but are you allowing them to be diverse? If you’re allowing them to be diverse, you really need a different kind of leadership. Our traditional leadership is quite hierarchical, it’s kind of based on lots of good theory that was developed around the time of Henry Ford, it was based on intellectual capital, so, “You’re led by me because I know more than you and I’m higher in the hierarchy than you, therefore you will comply.” That kind of leadership is great with a homogenous workforce. You can have a diverse looking organisation, as long as they all act the same. You could have diverse looking people, but they must all act the same as a homogenous workforce. Then the traditional leadership that we currently have today in the majority of organisations works fine.

But that’s not really diversity and inclusion. If you really want to embrace that diversity you need more of a social capital led leadership, rather than a intellectual capital led leadership. That, for me, is a leadership which is more about bringing people together, about creating movement, about being comfortable with not having all the answers, about being comfortable with failure, about learning together, and more leading from the middle and being led by a leader because you’re inspired by them, because they have a strong sense of purpose, they want to change the world, it’s exciting, it’s imaginative, and they’re prepared to fail because they’re prepared to learn from that failure quickly. That’s much more inspiring for everybody, not just the amazing millennials who want to be driven by purpose, actually we all want to be driven by a sense of purpose.

For me it’s absolutely critical that we look beyond just recruiting a diverse workforce, to making sure that a diverse workforce can thrive in an organisation and they’re not just taught to pretend to be straight, white men. That they are allowed to be themselves and embraced, and that requires an inclusive leadership otherwise the organisation is going to go down the toilet.

Julia: Which is a perfect place to end it, on a rather depressing note about going down the toilet, but I think the point is really well made about … and this has been a really great conversation, because time, and time, and time again we come back to this central issue around how does that middle management layer change and inspire, and inspiring from the middle I think is incredibly important. You’re right, everybody wants to get up in the morning with a sense of purpose and with a sense of energy, and what better way to do that? Any and every initiative that focuses on that is ultimately going to drive change. Thank you both, I know you’re both exceptionally busy. Not only do you do this aside from your day jobs, which is extraordinary, but you’ve taken the time to be with us today. Andy, Michael, thank you very much indeed.

Kieron: This episode of DiverCity™ Podcast was produced by me, Kieron Yates, on behalf of Julia Streets Productions. Thanks to Cynthia Akinsanya and Robert Pinto-Fernandes for their insights. You can find out more about the guests on this week’s show on our website, Whilst you’re there you can also sign up to our newsletter for all our latest updates. To be sure of catching all our future podcasts, subscribe to our feed in iTunes or your favourite podcast app, and if you’ve enjoyed this episode, remember to give us a rating or review in iTunes. It all helps promote the show to a wider audience. Finally, our Twitter handle is @DiverCityPod. Thanks for listening.