In this special episode, at the end of Series 12, we pause for thought after another busy year. Host Julia Streets is joined by Prabhmeet Singh, an award winning Senior finance professional, currently leading the Multicultural and Inclusion Network at Willis Towers Watson, and Sunaina Sinha Haldea, Global Head of Private Capital Advisory at Raymond James Cebile. They discuss the importance of networks and embedding environmental, social and corporate governance within the wider organisation. Together they look at corporate purpose through recruitment, mentoring, behaviours and biases of leaders. In addition, the discussion turns to the topic of the mental health of leaders through mindfulness and wellbeing practices and principles.
Sunaina Sinha Haldea
Sunaina Sinha Haldea is Global Head, Private Capital Advisory at Raymond James Cebile, following the acquisition of Cebile, the company she founded in 2011, earlier this year by Raymond James, a Fortune 500, NYSE-listed bank with a market cap of over $19 Billion. In addition to her role at Raymond James | Cebile, Sunaina is a prolific mentor and Board member including for minority and female-founded businesses such as Barrecore (now United Fitness Brands) and Slurrpfarm. Sunaina has a BS in Management Science and Engineering and an MS in Chemical Engineering, both from Stanford University where she was also a Mayfield Fellow. She has an MBA from Harvard Business School. Sunaina places a great importance on mindfulness and meditation and believes that this has been a key driver for her successful career. In her spare time, Sunaina is a keen wine enthusiast, having qualified as a Certified Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Prabhmeet Singh is an award winning Senior finance professional holding multiple posts in the insurance and consulting industry spanning three decades. He currently leads the Multicultural and Inclusion Network at Willis Towers Watson. Prabhmeet specialises in conscious leadership and teaches right-mindfulness as a way of self-actualisation, problem solving and overcoming unhealthy outcomes.
Series Twelve, Episode Five Transcript
Julia: Hello. My name is Julia Streets and welcome to DiverCity Podcast. Talking about equity, inclusion, and diversity in financial services. On the podcast, we seek to shine a light on positive progress. Call out areas requiring further focus and offer lots of ideas to help drive change. Before we get started today, I just want to take a moment to thank our friends at City A.M. For their continued support of DiverCity Podcast, publishing and promoting both our episodes and our supporting blog series, so their readers can stay at the very top of the latest diversity in inclusion debate. Now, you may want to check out City A.M.’s own podcast. It’s called The City View, and it gives you all the latest news and opinions from the city, because we at DiverCity Podcast are huge fans.
Today I’m delighted to be joined by Prabhmeet Singh, and Sunaina Sinha Haldea. Let me just tell you a little bit about each of our guests. Prabhmeet Singh is an award-winning senior finance professional, holding multiple posts in the insurance and the consulting industry, spanning three decades. He currently leads the multicultural and inclusion network at Willis Towers Watson, and he specialises in conscious leadership and teaches right mindfulness as a way of self-actualisation, problem solving and overcoming unhealthy outcomes. Prabhmeet, it’s wonderful to have you on the show.
Prabhmeet: Thank you. And it’s a pleasure to be here.
Julia: Joining Prabhmeet today is our second guest, Sunaina Sinha Haldea. Sunaina is the Global Head of Private Capital Advisory at Raymond James, following the acquisition of her business called Cebile, the company that she founded in 2011. In addition to her role at Raymond James, Sunaina is a prolific mentor and board member, working with and advocating for minority and female-founded businesses, such as Barrecore and Mindful Chef, businesses that she has helped to grow and also go on their corporate journeys. She places a great importance on mindfulness and meditation, and she believes that this has been a key driver for her successful career. Sunaina, it’s great that you could be with us today.
Sunaina: Thank you for having me. Delighted to be here.
Julia: Wonderful. I’m so looking forward to getting to this conversation, and as we always do with our guests, I’m really keen to hear what you’re focused on right now. So I wonder, Prabhmeet, can I come to you first?
Prabhmeet: My focus as a Global Finance Director is really trying to grow the global business that we’ve got at the moment. I’m also the chair of the multicultural infusion network, with over a thousand members and now a team of 20, to try and drive change within our organisation. And finally, I’m just trying to appreciate life on a daily basis with everything that’s going on in the world at the moment. It’s really time to introspect and realise how short life is and value each day. That’s where I’ve been focusing my time, as well as recently developing a course, which helps people to understand their mind, especially leaders and organisations, where we can really see change happening on a sustainable and a long term basis.
Julia: Thank you. Sunaina, tell us what you’re up to right now.
Sunaina: Well, it’s a new chapter in our journey. Our business was acquired by Raymond James financial and that acquisition closed on September 1st. So over the last few months we’ve been integrating Cebile Capital into Raymond James. Now, Cebile was an entrepreneurial boutique that had grown gangbusters by itself, but Raymond James is a fortune 500 New York stock exchange listed investment bank. So we are learning how to live in our new avatar, if you will. And the growth journey continues, our market is going through rapid expansion and innovation in terms of the deals that we are able to do. So we are growing the business. We are taking advantage of all the new opportunities coming our way through Raymond James. Outside of Raymond James, I continue to sit on various boards. I joined my first public board, SFC Energy, which is a German stock exchange listed hydrogen fuel cell business, this summer. And of course I have three young kids under eight, so all very busy days for me.
Julia: It is an incredible juggle, but it’s fascinating to hear not only about the dynamics of integration, but also sitting on a board and family life as well, and from both of you as well. I wonder if you can get into the conversation about, well, networks and mentors really, really matter. And this comes up a lot in our discussions on DiverCity Podcast. Just to frame it a little, because I don’t want to ask a single dimensioned question because we do ask this quite a lot. I’m going to throw in another one for you as well. So, partly, it’s about the role of networks, the role, the value of mentors, but also, we’re increasingly talking about DE&I in the context of ESG – Environments, Social Governance. I’d love to hear your thoughts, your observations about the intersection and the correlation between corporate networks and the social and governance elements of ESG. Prabhmeet, can I come to you first? Tell us, from having set up a network and having driven the network forward and the impact that it’s having.
Prabhmeet: Yes, absolutely. One of the key things that we have to think about when we think about an organisation, it’s often easy to get lost into the thought that it’s just a business or an entity, which is separate to you. In fact, it’s just a building with people inside. That’s what it boils down to. Humans with the same concerns, same ambitions, drive and concerns, are all in the same building. And how do we actually draw that humanness out? When we talk about social and governance issues, when we talk about employee engagement issues, actually they all relate to, how do you feel in your life? And why are you here? What’s your purpose? And why does that have to switch off when you walk into an organisation? It shouldn’t be, and it doesn’t. If it does, you’re wearing a different mask. If you wear a different mask, it becomes uncomfortable and therefore leads to stress and health problems. So we don’t want to do that.
How do we get this relationship between the two? One is it’s very challenging to set up a network. And secondly, what’s more challenging is to sustain the momentum of that network. One of the things that I’ve learned on this journey was you need the right people within the network and the right mind frame to be able to address these issues. In the recruitment of my members, one of the questions and one of the comments I used to say to them is only join this network if you don’t expect immediate change to happen. Someone may never know your name for the work that you put in today, and if you are here for that, then you are in the wrong place. Are you willing to join? Often, after a stunned look, people could see where I’m coming from. That this was an investment in humanity that we were making, and we didn’t need self-recognition or an ego trip from it.
Having that motivation and letting them know that this is the leader of the organisation’s thoughts about what we are doing for others, service, selfless service for others, it creates a different level of energy when we start having these discussions, but it’s also to stand up for justice and to do the right thing. We used a whole bunch of deep rooted psychology in everything that we did. For example, instead of saying things like, “Hey, let’s talk about Diwali”, we’d say, “How can you increase sales, as a sales manager, with the story of Diwali? What’s the relevance for you today?” And using that interlinking to speak the corporate language, but to bring in an understanding of humanity is a key skill that’s required if you’re really trying to make change happen for a network such as ours.
Julia: It’s really fascinating listening to you to talk about that because I hear organisations talk about their corporate purpose all the time, and we hear about setting up the networks and the need for really setting them up from very good first principles, and the culture of the network, and also sustaining as you say, the momentum over time as well. But listening to you here, talk about the energy of the network having an impact, and also the social justice, the impact that the business network can have, but bring it back to a commercial focus as well, is really interesting. We haven’t heard anybody talk about how actually this is pivoting back into a business focus as well. Sunaina, if I could extend the question a little further, which is when we think about the role you play in advising companies and your mentoring, your board positions, and also while you are integrating into Raymond James as well. When we think about, how do you incorporate ESG into your mentoring models?
Sunaina: It’s such an important question. I have always lived life from the perspective of, “You have to be the change you wish to see in the world.” In the world of private equity, there are less than 7% of senior professionals who are women and less than 5% who are minorities. Just by being a woman of colour in the financial services, in private equity, who had the CEO title and even now Raymond James has the global head title of the business, for me was never quite good enough. Just because I am who I am, why should the world around me change? I had to make sure that every time I entered an organisation, whether I was building my own business, as Cebile, whether I’m doing it at Raymond James, and whether I come on a board of a public business or a private business and help drive that growth forward, it is done in a way that we set the pace.
What do I mean by that? Since inception, Cebile Capital and now Raymond James’ business, in private capital advisory which I lead, has been over 50% women and minorities. In an industry where that number is sub 7%, we set the pace there. And my attitude was if I don’t do it, who will, right? If I can’t create a diverse and inclusive workplace, given my background, how can I then expect more male dominated, Caucasian dominated companies around me to then make any change? That was really important to me and says this, “Not only can it be done because I am who I am, but look at the people around me, look at my team, look at its diversity. I’m very proud of that.” In fact, since inception until today, 100% of the leadership and management team of the business is women. 100%. And we’ve kept it that way, on purpose, again, to show that we can be different and also be very good at the same time and not give up anything in the process. That was incredibly important to me.
The second thing I think that’s equally important is that anytime you enter into a new space where you’ve been asked to add professional value, and I hear I’m coming to the board seats, then you do the same. See, if I became a board member of a business, I tried to make sure I was not the only woman at the table. I tried to make sure that the theme of D&I came into the boardroom with me, came into the boardroom with the decisions that confronted the business day by day. And often these are hybrid businesses, so there are decisions to be made every day. And then also in the management team, and I think at Barrecore we were very proud that it was a business for women by women, so the entire management team was female and 99% of their clients were female. And in Mindful Chef, the focus was very much on healthy eating and being very environmentally conscious farm to fork eating. I’m very proud of the way that business scaled.
It’s all about who you are and, when you enter a space, how do you change that space and its energy around you to then set the pace for that industry? You can’t do it all, but you have to be able to start in the spaces that you inhabit first.
Julia: I’m really interested when you talked there about how you’ve embedded into every decision that gets made every single day. And I would love to extend that just a little bit further if we may, in terms of when you are, as women, in leadership positions and you are supporting women and minorities starting out in their career, what advice do you give? What should we pay attention to? Any leadership tips and tricks about how to be a really good mentor to drive the pipeline?
Sunaina: It is all about making sure that you give yourself choices and that those choices include a direction of travel that is less trodden. What do I mean by that? I had to pick a tax advisor for the business a few months ago. I had a team from a big four accounting firm that was all male. And I had a team from another very large accounting firm that was two thirds female. Even though everyone said that the big four accounting firm was a no brainer, I went with the other organisation. I had the choice between a male COO who had 10/12 years experience of being the COO of a private equity, financial services business, or I had the opportunity to bring in a Director of Operations who was female, who then over time I could grow into the COO, and I chose to do the latter.
The advice is, create the choices. Don’t make a decision until you create the choices. Will that cost you time? Yes. Will it be hard? Yes. Will you sometimes have to then figure out how you create the positive choices? Because sometimes they don’t exist and you have to think outside the box. Yes. But it’s worth doing it, because if you don’t invest in this process, who will?
Then let’s take a step into the decision-making. My encouragement is, if you do what I call a karma-positive move, which is bring someone into the fold that wouldn’t normally have gotten that look-see, if you were not taking this advantage point of wanting to become a diverse and inclusive leader, that karma will come back to you in some other place at some other point in life. Yes, it’s a little bit harder to say I’m going to take someone who has a little bit less experience and groom them and grow them into a COO. And by the way, that person has turned to be the most terrific COO for me over the years. It’s a harder path to trod, but you do it because it’s the right thing to do. You do it because it’s the only way change happens.
I wish there was some secret sauce, but you have to A) create choices and make sure that you’re bringing people from the best backgrounds into each and every choice, and number two, when you’re picking advisors around you, making sure they come to the table with that choice for you, and then finally, when it’s time to make the choice, keep asking yourself why you are making the choice that’s karma-positive. That would be my advice.
Julia: It’s wonderful to hear you talk about that, because actually I think about my business and the people I’ve brought into my business. And actually, when you start making, It’s funny, I’ve never really thought them as karma-positive, but I do pay a lot of attention to the energy, the implications, the pathways we want to create, which are not necessarily the norm or the traditional norm, is actually the joy that could be had along the way. The ideas that will be inspired that actually you may not have had come to light. And that is an amazingly powerful thing as well. But it’s interesting because I think right now there are senior management leaders who arguably are under a degree of pressure, and Prabhmeet, I’d love to get your thoughts on this, are conforming in certain behaviours of old, because they’ve got certain targets they have to hit and their pathway has always been to do it in a certain way, so therefore they won’t take the risk.
And I would love to get your thoughts about what do you see when you’re talking to senior management teams, in the context of diversity and inclusion, about the immediate challenges that they need to face up to and how do we overcome those?
Prabhmeet: That’s a very good question. I think one of the main things, when we think about this question, is really understanding where have we, along our lives of being humans, turned into human doings instead of human beings. When do we use humanity from understanding from the perspective of the oneness of this existence that we all come from the same place, we all go back, effectively, to the same place. We come from made up of the elements. And so somewhere along the line, we built an identity for ourselves and that identity creates this problem of ego. And through the problem of ego, it drives us forward into making unconscious awareness. When you have unconscious awareness, you have unconscious thoughts. We all know that an unconscious thought leads to an unconscious action.
One of the key things and one of the challenges that I see at the moment is to work with senior leaders, for them to befriend their mind, because all these problems exist within the mind, and to unlearn everything that we’ve learned from the perspective of D&I, because of social media or parents or friends groups, have a worldview, which is one way perhaps, and to open yourself to the possibility that there could be a different way of looking at things is enough to start the journey. Once we start that journey of unraveling, that perhaps there is a different way of looking at different cultures, then the mind stops operating in autopilot mode, which is often how we go through life.
When you’re doing your brush, or if you’re driving a car or reading certain text, you don’t actually remember why you’re doing certain things. So what happens in life in autopilot mode? You’re not really questioning your human existence. You’re just getting through life because everybody else is doing the same thing. I must collect as much as I can. I must profit as much as I can. I must be successful and be more authoritative than others. And you stop and ask a human being, why are you doing this? Look how valuable your existence is. And you start bringing this conscious awareness. One of the challenges at the moment is just bringing that awareness, just to get senior leaders to understand that there is a different way of looking at things. And many are switched on, to be fair. Many are understanding and becoming aware, and world events have really helped on that journey to triage this priority up the list of trying to understand, “Okay, what is my client base looking like?” and “How do I effectively manage that?”
We can look at that from the business angle to say, “My clients and my employees should match” or we can look it from an ethical, moral angle, but also just from a common sense angle, that, “I need to recruit the best person for this role” as Sunaina touched on earlier, and to have the ability to grow those individuals within certain roles.
Julia: It’s interesting hearing you talk about conscious and unconscious behaviour. And of course the first thing that comes across my mind when you talk about that is, in the context of discrimination and in the context of decision-making, there are biases that flow in the unconscious and the conscious biases as well. I would love to hear your thoughts about what institutions can do to create and embrace awareness of these biases that ultimately will help drive change.
Prabhmeet: It’s a very good question. It’s a funny thing, really, because we always ask our students to pay attention, but we never teach them how to pay attention. The same thing happens because those students grow up and they end up getting jobs and become senior leaders one day. No one’s actually taken the time to try and understand what is it that makes you pay attention and what are you paying attention to? Actually one of the things I do is I have a methodology to be able to teach people how to bring yourself in the present moment and how to be able to become aware of certain actions. You see, a flame can only light another flame, you can get that guidance once there’s somebody who understands how to do that, how to pay attention, how they’re living their lives and using those role models, which I think Sunaina was also touching on earlier, to be able to do that.
One of the things that we can do, we know that unconscious bias training for an hour when you sit in a classroom, we know that it probably doesn’t do much long term effect because the next day you are thinking about your shopping list or what you’re watching on the cinema and actually that unconscious bias just gets buried again. So what we do is provide a methodology to be able to learn how to do that and to apply that on a daily basis, to the point where it becomes enjoyment rather than a task that you need to do. When it becomes enjoyment, then the wheel is in motion and it just does it itself.
Julia: Sunaina, well, let me bring you in here though, as well, because, again, staying with the topic of discrimination, you talked of these amazing statistics earlier, about female representation and ethnic minority representation in the PE, the private equity industry. But also there’s an element of that, which is about drawing through talent, into leadership positions as well. My concern being that there are some inherent biases and discriminatory behaviours that are not enabling that pathway. I just want to get your thought about what can be done to make sure that women and ethnic minority employees are not being discriminated against?
Sunaina: There’s really three things when it comes to discrimination. The first is that you have to be able to see through to the top of your organisation in terms of what they really believe their philosophy is around this, not lip service, not what it says on some mission statement on some website, but how do they really think about promoting talent? And let’s be very honest, we all have choices in life. And this is one of the best labour markets in a generation. If you’re with a business where they have a poor track record of doing so, they’re making all the right noises, but you’re not seeing any action, I’m going to say you as one or two individual or a few individuals, yes, you could change the tide, but it’s going to be awfully tough and it’s going to take you awfully long if the leadership doesn’t believe it. That’s point number one. Point number two is that if you are an organisation and you are happy with your job, but you want to see more movement around leadership and diversity, and you want to make sure that there’s no discriminatory elements there, have the conversation?
Don’t shed the light on the topic. And the light burns off any shame or hidden agendas that may lurk beneath the surface. So go and have that chat with your leadership. Now, almost all organisations have diversity committees because there’s been so much talk on this topic. Go and bring this up and say, I’m really worried that if I say this, or if I say that, it will be viewed as in potentially negative light, especially given I’m a female or a minority. Have that conversation, shed the light on it, have that discussion very honestly with your boss and with the diversity committee in your organisation and see what the reaction is. Often, you’ll be surprised at what you thought was your fear was actually just in your mind and that they’re happy for you and they want you to come forward and make the statements you want to make and have the initiatives and drive that you do.
Last comment from me, and this is really important. Sometimes organisations are burnt. When they are taken on by female and minority candidates, anything they do is the wrong move. There are always these stories of the one woman or the one person of colour who set the wrong path and took them down a wrong path. And so there is what I call scar tissue from decades of them trying to get this right and not getting it right. Just be aware of that, that scar tissue exists in almost all businesses today. Try to think about what actually happened and try to tell them, in your very frank discussions with them, that the past is not an indicator of the present or the future, right? You are not the same as those stories that came before you. It’s really important, I feel, to divide up the past and now, because the way things used to work even five years ago is very different to the world we inhabit today. Those would be my tips and tricks on discrimination and diversity.
Julia: That’s enormously helpful. I think that’s a great moment to bring in Cynthia Akinsanya who has some research to support today’s discussion.
Cynthia: The McKinsey 2020 report, purpose, shifting from why to how, noted that only 7% of fortune 500 CEOs believe their companies should mainly focus on making profits and not be distracted by social goals. A survey with more than 1000 participants from US companies showed that 82% affirm the importance of purpose. 72% believe that purpose should receive more weight than profit. 62% recognise that their organisations had a purpose statement, while 42% believe that their organisation’s purpose statements actually drives impact. This isn’t very surprising. Many companies’ purpose statements are so generic. They do little to challenge business as usual and others don’t emphasise the concerns of employees. Contributing to society and creating meaningful work, the top two priorities of employees in the survey are the focus of just 21% and 11% of purpose statements, respectively.
Julia: Thank you as always, Cynthia Akinsanya, for the research today and to remind everybody this is how you can find the podcast, go to our website, divercitypodcast.com, where you can find all our episodes and sign up for early notifications of future recordings. You could also sign up for our newsletter called DE&I That Caught Our Eye, to make sure you’ve got the very latest reporting and thinking straight to your inbox. Please follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. DiverCity Podcast is available on BrightTALK and all good podcast channels. And simply, we’d love a rating because it does all help to promote the show.
I was really interested, Prabhmeet on your remarks earlier about how you help people pay attention, the importance of paying attention. And the burning question I had while you were talking was, how? Could you shed some light on how the how works?
Prabhmeet: Yes, sure. Before I answer the question of the how, it’s more, let’s understand in our lives, how often have we been taught about our mind? In today’s world, we talk about mental health, and often we talk about what the unhealthy qualities of a mind are. What is a healthy mind? How do we define that? How do we understand how our mind operates? Before we even understand how to pay attention, how much do we even know about our own mind? Can you show me it? Do you know where it is? How does your reality of what you see get impacted through the translation mechanism that’s happening in your mind? All the emotions that you face, all the concerns and worries, the anxieties, everything results from understanding how the mind works. So how do we understand the mind and therefore, how do we understand how to pay attention to what we’re doing on a daily basis?
There’s an eight week course that I have developed, which I work with leaders to try and get them to understand and befriend their minds. Then we let them in organisations to see how that change then manifests. And to be able to do that, we really need to be able to go on a journey of paying attention through meditation, through recognising how your mind operates. When does it waver? When does it get attached to certain things? When do you stop not rethinking certain things? Why does that happen? How do you snap out of that? Once you do that, then you realise that actually, when I’m operating on a daily basis, I only operate in two spheres. Either I go to things that I like, that give me pleasure, and I stay away from those things that give me pain or suffering. That’s the only two dimensions you operate in as a human being.
Now, when you see certain things, let’s talk about diversity, and if you are unaware of how your mind is operating, then in autopilot, you automatically go into the place of fear, which then results in not recruiting that female or person who’s differently able or LGBT or race. It automatically happens and you don’t even know that you’re doing it. We bring the awareness of when your mind is in autopilot and how you can come out of that. From that, not only does it result in diversity issues, but also in problem solving, which I mentioned earlier, in understanding yourself and happier relationships at home and at work that all result from this journey of the mind.
Julia: It sounds really interesting, but more than that, it sounds incredibly important. As you say, not only the backdrop of mental health and the whole discussion about mental health at the moment, I’m actually quite deeply concerned and I don’t think we talk enough about the mental health of leaders, particularly given if you just even think about the last two years, but also the responsibilities and the pressure put upon leaders as well. Sunaina, I would love to refer back to a remark I made in your opening biography, which is, I talked about you basing great importance on mindfulness and meditation, and you see that as being a really key driver in your successful career. Can you just talk to us a bit more about how that manifests itself in your everyday life?
Sunaina: Absolutely. The way I describe meditation is that the brain is the heaviest muscle in the human body. We all spend time building other muscles in our body. We’ll do biceps, bicep curls to build the bicep. We’ll do lunges to build the glutes. We build other muscle bodies. Why not build the heaviest muscle of them all, which is the brain? Just like any other muscle, it gets better and better with training. So how do you train the brain? You’ll hear me say this often. Train the brain, train the brain, to my colleagues, to my kids. It happens by making the brain focus and reset and learn how to be more aware in a very acute way. I started my meditation journey as a child. In fact, my father took me to my first meditation course as a teenager, but in my adult years, I’ve been going once a year to a Vipassana meditation course. It’s free. It’s 10 days long and they teach you this very effective meditation technique, which you then practise every day.
I sit and meditate every day at the start of every day, come rain or shine. It has really helped me find ground zero in and of myself, no matter what’s coming at me. Life is pretty full-faced with running a global business, with offices in New York, LA and London, and having three kids under eight. But what really keeps me grounded and finding my centre in any moments, good or bad, is the meditation and knowing that I can always come back to it in a moment’s notice to reset myself and continue the journey no matter what it may bring. It’s really been my key differentiator. People ask, “How have you done it all?” I get asked that question all the time. I always come back with the same answer, that the meditation has really helped me tackle each day as it comes.
Julia: It’s fantastic hearing you both talk about not only your journey into this amazing world in which we inhabit, the world of financial services, thinking about some of the dynamics at play, thinking about some of the discriminations of the behaviours and leadership and models, but also hearing you both talk very authentically about what matters to you, which has been wonderful to have you both in the show. Now, listen, I’m going to ask you the question I ask all our guests, as you see us out of the show. I am concerned actually that diversity, equity and inclusion could very easily pull down the agenda, particularly as we begin to navigate quite tough times or interesting times. I’d love to hear your comparing reasons why it must remain high on the agenda. Prabhmeet, I’m coming to you first.
Prabhmeet: I don’t think it’s the choice. I think the younger generation are impatient on things like climate, race, gender, LGBT, differently abled. Criteria employees are looking for nowadays isn’t just paying holidays, they’re looking up at the board and saying, “How diverse are you?” This is real, this isn’t fiction. This is real. And it’s happening now. And these are going to be our future leaders. We have to have that change happening immediately. Regulators are talking about the control of power, where there’s less diverse boards. Clients are asking for RFPs and asking for statistics on diversity. There is not a choice. Then we have the wave of consciousness. We have the tears in one man’s eyes, begging for the equality when another man presses his knee on the weight of his neck, setting in a light and emotion, a feeling within us that says, “Hang on a second. This isn’t what I am as a human being. This doesn’t feel right. Something has to change.”
Julia: Wonderful. Sunaina, I would love to hear your thoughts as well. Why must diversity and inclusion remain high on the corporate agenda?
Sunaina: I couldn’t have said it better, Prabhmeet. If you don’t do it, you will be left behind. If you don’t invest in diversity and inclusion, you will become the outlier. The way we were the outliers a generation ago, you will become the outlier if you don’t invest in your diversity and inclusion and climate change and ESG, because the tide is turning against you. The ageing population that believed in a different way, a legacy way of doing things, is going. The younger generation is making it absolutely imperative for this tide to change, and you will change with it, whether you like it or not, you will change. That change is in the air and it’s happening day by day. The question is, are you going to do the change or is it going to happen to you? Those are your only two choices. That’s why all leaders today and all members of any organisation today have to ask themselves, how can I be the change I wish to see?
It’s so easy to say, “It’s not my problem. I pass it on to my boss. I pass it on to the diversity committee.” That’s a good one these days. “Oh, the committee is thinking about it.” What are you doing about it? How can you be the change that’s really going to make a difference here? I’m all about, what is my action? What is my action every day? What is my positive choice every day in the right direction on diversity, on inclusion, on climate change, on anything for that matter, where change needs to occur.
Julia: It’s such a wonderful way to finish the show with such a clarion call to action. I mean, that couldn’t be better. I can’t tell you, it’s been such a joy having you both on the show. Sunaina, thank you so much for being with us.
Sunaina: Thank you for having me. It was a pleasure.
Julia: Prabhmeet, thank you for your time. Really appreciated.
Prabhmeet: Really loved the discussion. Hope we can continue it some time.
Julia: And I hope to all our audience, you’ve enjoyed this conversation as much as I have. I’ve been Julia Streets. Thank you for joining us on DiverCity Podcast. And we look forward to bringing you a new episode very soon. Thank you.
Kieron: This episode of DiverCity Podcast was produced by me, Kieron Yates, on behalf of Julia Street’s Productions. Thanks to Cynthia Akinsanya for her insights. You can find out more about the guests on this week’s show on our website, divercitypodcast.com. And that’s divercity with a C, not an S. Whilst you are there, you can also sign up to our newsletter for all our latest updates. All our episodes are available in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favourite podcast app. If you enjoy DiverCity Podcast, remember to share on social media and give us a rating or review, it really helps promote the show to a wider audience. Finally, our Twitter handle is @divercitypod. Thanks for listening.