Back in September I came across newspaper headline in the FT that just called out for me to read it. Believe it or not, a measure exists for global inequality. And alarmingly, referencing it in his opening speech at the G20 meeting in Hangzhou, the Chinese Prime Minister alerted us to the fact that the coefficient has reached 0.7. Why is that alarming? Well, it’s higher than the ‘alarm level’ of 0.6. The Prime Minister then went on to call for G20 countries to address this figure through more inclusive and interconnected global development that benefits all countries and all people.
Putting politics to one side, this innocuous yet vital number made reflect on equality, diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace. And importantly, how despite the many laws and steps taken to redress the balance in the workplace, we are still a long way from where we need to be. This isn’t just my view, it’s one shared by over 75% of CEOs, who, according to the Wall Street Journal, have identified greater equality as a top 10 business priority for them too.
For me equality, diversity and inclusiveness are about fairness and integrity. It’s about looking another fellow human in the eye and saying “we are all have the same chance to achieve our goals; we all have the right to be heard, and to be treated with dignity and respect, and the same right to improve our prosperity, and the quality of life we and our families lead”.
Striving for the removal of inequality and bias in corporate world has to be something we build into our daily way of going about business. Not least because it will help build stronger, more successful businesses. Almost all organisations openly commit to doing it. But we need more than commitment. It has to be a top-down, bottom-up approach so that this commitment stands a better chance of being translated into action.
Steps we can take
Recruitment of new talent into our businesses has to be fair and open. We need transparency around how we recognise and promote the talent within our teams. How we manage performance and develop people has to be consistent if we are to build, and maintain engagement and achieve our business goals. We need to be mindful of being inclusive in our everyday actions. Every meeting we hold, every initiative we launch needs to for reach every person in the room/business – so that we elicit feedback and suggestion from everyone, because let’s face it, the best solutions are not always the ones that come from group-think and dominant personalities. Employees too need to play their role too. They need to challenge leaders and businesses, be more confident in stepping forward when opportunities arise, not shy away from them because of what may have gone before and not bemoan the speed of progress if they are not willing to act too.
As business leaders and team members, collectively we carry the responsibility every day for creating a platform of equality and inclusivity in our companies, so that we inspire future generations to take up the leadership mantle and make 0.7 a thing of the long historical past.