Category: Diversity & Inclusion, Inclusive, Inclusivity, International Women’s Day, Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace
Julie Humphreys, head of diversity and inclusion at Reach plc, talks diversity and inclusion on International Women's Day
Tragic worldwide events such as the death of George Floyd have elevated the subject of diversity. And closer to home Black, Asian, minority ethnic groups and women have disproportionately suffered the brunt of job cuts during the pandemic according to recent ONS data. Surely this means business and leaders need to change?
Every company wants to succeed, and numerous studies show that diversity encourages innovation and creativity. But creating a diverse workforce which is reflective of society is only one piece of the jigsaw for delivering a truly effective workplace. The ingredient often overlooked is a culture of inclusivity, even if it is at times a daunting challenge especially during a period of unprecedented uncertainty.
I was drawn to my new role as Head of D&I at Reach plc, the UK’s largest national and local news publisher as it whole-heartedly recognises that this transformation has to come from within.
Its titles reflect diverse views of the nation and communities and its staff have a legacy of being champions, campaigners and changemakers. Businesses cannot forget that its biggest assets are its people. And a more inclusive culture and sense of belonging is required now more than ever.
One of my first tasks since joining Reach has been to listen to as many people as possible in groups and in one to ones and to get business leaders to do the same so that we can define and devise an inclusive culture.
To set everyone up for success we are creating a framework called Connect, Respect and Thrive.
Firstly, we are aiming to create a place which reflects society and where all colleagues feel valued, respected and included for who they are and what they bring to the company.
Secondly, Respect acknowledges that every person is unique. Different backgrounds, experiences and origins allow for new ideas to thrive and enable us to respond to readers, customers, and wider stakeholders.
Thirdly, Reach will be guided by a set of simple principles that will encourage and support equal opportunity to develop, progress and succeed across the organisation. The great thing is that there is already a genuine desire for inclusivity at every level across Reach - my role is to guide that aspiration and with the senior executive team’s support, create a real focus on it that everybody can be proud to be part of. When we eventually come out of this crisis, we want to ensure we move to a workplace that is more genuinely inclusive.
Businesses cannot ignore the ramifications of the pandemic and should upscale investment in employee wellbeing. We also need to take a holistic approach and stop seeing inclusion as a 'programme of activity' and instead embed it into the core of the organisation.
Reach has made some great strides already. Businesses must not stop learning. A great inclusion strategy doesn’t apply to a one-size-fits-all model. It understands and reflects national and local nuances and I will be working with local leaders. And there can be synergies with the other areas of the business (HR, L&D etc.) when it comes to creating a fairer post pandemic work world. We will also be getting measurement back on the agenda.
As it is International Women’s Day I am reminded of a great example of a figure we can all learn from. Marie Curie was the first and only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice. She struggled to get ahead in life and succeeded against all the odds. Her work has shaped modern life and despite her fame she remained honest and modest.
Marie once said, “You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end each of us must work for his own improvement, and at the same time share a general responsibility for all humanity.”
Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Reach plc