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Alpha Challengers Champions of Diversity Series launched

Alpha Challengers Champions of Diversity Series launched

Mark.Freed / 05 Jun 2020

Register now for next Episode which focuses on Ethnic, Cultural and Social Diversity.  

Thursday 4th June Our Alpha Challengers Champions of Diversity Series launched with a lively conversation discussing Diversity After Lockdown. The event was brilliantly produced by Sara Pistilli and Georgie Toft,  E2W Advisory Board Members with special responsibility for Championing and Standing Up for Diversity.

Our special guest was Jayne Styles – Jaynes most recent roles was with MS Amlin’s investment business, where, as CEO and CIO, she directed: strategy, governance and operations for their award winning, global multi-asset, multi-manager portfolios. The team she built from scratch reflected her belief in the importance of all aspects of diversity and the benefits of inclusive leadership. 

Our agenda is an important one to all who care about our future and the future of the industry. After years of sometimes painfully slow erosion of myths surrounding people’s ability to work from home, we now have a once in a lifetime opportunity to define a new, new normal, that takes the whole organisation with us. Firms embracing the new, new normal will be a more attractive place for Millennials, Generation X and Women leading to more diverse teams. Here are some key points raised and action items from our first Championing Diversity episode focusing on “Diversity after lockdown”.

  1. Is this the biggest opportunity for change in our lifetimes?
    • This is a great opportunity for firms to define a ‘new, new normal’ and ensure with this they create an diverse and inclusive culture to attract the best talent.
    • Currently we are forced to WFH, the key focus for companies should be to look at a truly flexible and working culture. Many companies are just looking at WFH/flexible working policies rather than how to support diversity and inclusion in this transition. Flexible working should be truly flexible not ‘measured’ if you are / are not online.
    • A trusted team is an empowered and productive team and companies can benefit a huge amount from this and are likely to retain and attract staff.
    • With great opportunity comes great risk. If we do not do this right that offices become ‘two streamed’ i.e. people in the office and people working from home. This could lead to more opportunities for those in the office and therefore flexible working becomes a disadvantage.
    • Leadership and management teams should have training on how to manage a varied team. It needs to be a conscious, trained leader who is able to manage properly with people outside and inside the office.
  1. What are you and your colleagues finding enjoyable and rewarding about your current working environment?
    • Opportunity to connect with colleagues, clients and leaders as people can work flexible hours to suit global teams.
    • Level playing field at the moment as everyone is working from home. It is easier for us to relate to one another in the current situation and we are all adapting.
    • Leadership is becoming more compassionate and you can see people’s empathy and humility.
    • Diverse role models are becoming much more visible in the media and in politics which helps to promote diversity conversations and calls to action.
  1. What challenges are you and your colleagues facing?
    • The social aspect of work is difficult and we are missing out on informal conversations and key information.
    • Speaking up on zoom calls is a challenge as often it’s first to the button or interrupted conversations. We must try to host our meetings better in a way that ensures everyone has the opportunity to give their input.
    • Depending on your working space it can be difficult. The integration of home and work becomes blurred and some want to get back to the office for a change of environment.
    • Understanding and respecting people’s time. There is a feeling that you need to be contactable all the time. To combat this, have open conversations with your teams and setting clear boundaries and expectations e.g. if your status is showing as away then don’t contact unless it is urgent.
  1. Have any myths been busted?
    • Senior management and other teams are commenting about how they are being more productive from home and seeing real benefits.
    • Seems to be a shift in dialog about the benefits of flexible working and connectivity with people.
    • Teams are proving they can adapt and still hit targets and embrace change in a positive way.
  1. Is there a  business case for change?
    • Surveys being sent out in many firms are showing there is a lot of preference to work from home more and have flexible working.
    • Companies must ensure they are inclusive of all views and understand people are facing different challenges. Some colleagues want to go back to the office, others are realising great benefit of working from home. It is a careful balance and must be done in an inclusive manner that suits all employees needs.  
    • Productivity has stayed the same or increased during this time, giving confidence that the shift to a ‘new normal’ will not impact key business targets.
    • Firms that take the initiative, adapt, and define a new, new normal will be able to retain and attract the best and more diverse talent.

Take away points/call to action:

  • Key for us to stay visible in a virtual world;
    • Make sure we are reaching out to managers and teams to stay connected. Don’t always wait for them to contact us.
    • Important to gain sponsorship of senior leaders both internal and external to help to keep you visible, included and progress your career.
    • E2W training on staying visible in a virtual world is coming up. Register for the event here.
  • It is our job to open up the dialog of what we want from flexible working and discuss it amongst our teams and with leaders implementing new flexible working policy. This is new territory for everyone so it is important to inform those making the decisions of views from teams.
  • With the challenges of technology/zoom calls, we must try to host our meetings better in a more conscious way that ensures everyone has the opportunity to give their input.
  • Have open conversations with your teams and setting clear boundaries and expectations about preferred methods of contact.
  • Great opportunity for offices, when we are in them, to be a collaborative and engaging space. Come into the offices for meetings rather than to work in silence. Look at how this can work with your team.

Thank you to: Lucy Ring, Gaya Saravanabavan, Sandrine Markham, Iva Horcicova, Mihaela Breg, Ana Arias Nava, Robyn Clarke and Katie Dix for your insight and contribution to the conversation.

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