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UK Black History Month 2021—A Call to Action

As the UK celebrates Black History Month, learn 5 workstreams you can consider in your journey towards inclusivity for the long term, not just for this month.

As we celebrate UK Black History Month, let’s focus on an action plan. Learn five workstreams you can consider in your journey towards an inclusive workplace for the long term.

Every October, Black History Month takes place across the UK and provides a time to educate, celebrate and raise awareness of the history, achievements, and contributions of Black people in the UK and across the world, historically and today.

It is also a time to call for continued action to dismantle all forms of racism, reclaim the narrative around Black history, and ensure our diverse communities feel valued and empowered. While we celebrate Black History in October, we recognize that we must act throughout the year to ensure our communities are represented and celebrated all year round.

Last year for Black History Month, SHL aimed to create awareness by supporting a wide program to educate, entertain and inspire the business. This year SHL aims to honor the month via a call-to-action lead by making inclusion a priority. Together with the appointment of a dedicated Interim Inclusion Director, SHL has developed an approach and is beginning to embed inclusion across all dimensions of diversity internally and through our products and services.

SHL are being guided through their inclusion journey and call to action. As SHL goes through its inclusion journey, we thought we would share our call to action to assist in your organizations’ inclusion journey and to commemorate UK Black History Month.

To obtain a broader development of company culture, a clear framework for coherent delivery should be used.

Consider:

• How would you describe your existing culture?

• What are our shared values as an organization?

It is important to consider this as these shared values have a strong influence on the people associated with your company. It potentially dictates how people represent and add value to the business through their behavior e.g. how they perform their duties.

It is sometimes difficult to know where to start when introducing an inclusion framework within an organization, and focusing on these five workstreams can help.

1) Strategy - What are your organization’s strategic objectives over the next few years? What is your organization trying to achieve and how best can inclusive culture support that ambition? How can we embed inclusion into your and your colleagues’ thinking and ultimately achieve more diverse outcomes in everything the organization does? The output of this strategy alignment process will help form the basis of our Inclusion Plan.

2) Data - Do you currently know the latest diversity composition of your employees? Is existing diversity data trusted by the workforce population? If the answer is ‘no’ to either question, it is advised to undertake a fresh representation diversity measurement that can be influenced. Then think about ongoing measurement and reporting of inclusion levels across the business. Ultimately, you want to come up with inclusion targets for each function.

3) Governance - What is the role of your executive ad senior leadership team in terms of accountability and delivery? How do you monitor this work and measure progress against the inclusion framework and plan and hold people accountable? How best to leverage employee-led groups e.g. DEI Taskforces and external partners? Does your organization have an Inclusion Code of Conduct that is also followed by customers? Finally, communicate success to keep engagement happening throughout the lifetime of this program and beyond. Ultimately, the governance process put in place is important to keep people accountable and engaged.

4) Leadership - Leadership is about pushing norms to add value and make a difference. This is about developing culture through people’s behaviors. Holding people accountable for their actions because culture is not just about what we say, but what we do and how we do it. Many people think that they are already great at Inclusion, but if they self-reflect and honestly ask themselves about their closest friendship group, closest colleagues or suppliers/partners, etc. they might realize that they are not as inclusive as they think they are. As leaders, ask yourselves: how diverse is your circle? Leadership should support a learning and development offer, a people policy, and inclusion events so that theirs and their people’s circles are inclusive.

5) Systems - The other critical workstream is systems. Systems refer to all those often-invisible parts of the machine behind the scenes that are critical to making an organization work internally as well as building an external reputation. This includes attraction and recruitment, performance and talent management, and marketing and procurement. In all these systems there is bias. These processes and practices are full of bias and mapping them out end to end can identify those areas of bias and de-bias them to make them more inclusive. The work with systems is essential because it is about sustainability.

Often organizations make the mistake of focusing on DEI as a segregated workstream or even worse, a series of events and campaigns. A segregated approach will never produce successful outcomes because only when inclusion is embedded into the overall purpose and mission of an organization will it truly add value sustainably. Seek to go beyond marketing and just build brand reputation. Begin to collectively challenge and develop your company culture not just during UK Black History Month, but through the daily decisions that are made by people who are associated with your organization.

Check out our blogs on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion topics, and contact us to learn how we can help you build an inclusive workplace.

headshot samia khan

Author

Samia Khan

Samia is a business psychologist with over 20 years of experience and has helped public and private sector clients create a more effective workforce and foster success by using organizational psychology principles. Samia has worked with international clients and currently manages governance, strategic, and operational alignment with SHL’s distributor territories and as a result has a broad, global perspective on the changing world of work. Samia has an interest in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and advocates that everyone should be treated with humanity, dignity and respect. Her belief is since we spend over a decade of our lives at work, we should prioritize on developing an understanding in business where employees are happy and healthy to make a greater impact inside and out.

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