The first virtual event of Dive In 2020 UK opened with a ‘bing’ on the morning of 22ndTuesday. It was opened by CEO of Lloyd’s, John Neal, who reminded us of the opportunity we have been given to “build back better” and create diverse and inclusive workplaces where everyone can thrive.
John shared with the audience what Lloyd’s has done to reflect on its progress and challenge itself. Lloyd’s has recently launched the culture dashboard, which presents the current view of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability, alongside the importance of culture within individual firms. The dashboard benchmarks the market’s starting point and is intended to track Lloyd’s collective progress and help it stay on track to deliver against its targets.
Reflecting on the festival’s theme of authenticity and perspective, John talked about the importance of bringing our whole selves and unique experiences to bear upon our shared challenges. Especially in a time of unprecedented change.
British journalist and ITN Newsreader, Charlene White then took to the floor. Charlene was the first black female newsreader at ITN, a fact that she found “very surprising”.
Charlene reflected on the impact COVID-19 had on the recent Black Lives Matter protests. She noted that while the protests had happened before, this was the first time people really listened. Why? Because during lockdown more people were able to properly listen, engage, and have conversations with family friends and colleagues that they might not have had before.
The event was then opened up to the panel which included Suzanne Liversidge, Global Managing Partner at Kennedys Law LLP; Mel Newton, Partner at KPMG; and John Neal. The panellists discussed topics including the rapid pace of change, the importance of investing in D&I throughout a crisis, and the impact the new ways of working is having on workplace culture. Suzanne described the ways her organisation had enabled colleagues to bring their authentic selves to work while homeworking by focusing on creativity and positivity. Mel commented on the ways in which the new ways of working have created a more inclusive workplace for many by opening up accessibility of jobs and allowing more flexibility for those with family and care responsibilities.
A key theme that emerged from the discussion was the importance of leadership. The three leaders discussed the importance of leading by example: having difficult conversations, addressing bad behaviour and unfair biases, but also being authentic in themselves and showing employees the value in bringing your whole selves to work. “Leaders” John commented, “need to set the tone” for what is acceptable and what isn’t.
Charlene drew upon the analogy of a party to define diversity and inclusion: diversity means being invited to the party, but inclusion is being invited to dance. Continuing the analogy, Suzanne added “Let’s have a party, let’s invite everyone, let’s have a dance”. A perfect note to kick off the Dive In Festival.