Leadership is more than just a title and a corner office — it’s about how you show up, demonstrate a willingness to step up, put your authentic self out there, and lean into brave action.
But in order to make true change to bring the world of work to a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive environment, accountability has to be imprinted onto everyone.
The DIAL Global Virtual Summit is support by Yahoo Finance’s parent company Verizon Media. The virtual conference, entitled ‘A Call to Action & Moving the DIAL for Meaningful and Sustainable Change through Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging’ speaks to senior directors and C-suite executives at the largest organisations in the world to discuss how companies can foster a truly diverse and inclusive workplace.
Arun Batra, partner at consultancy EY, Annie Murphy, SVP and global chief commercial officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA), and Helen Webb, chief people officer at Co-op, spoke at the session entitled ‘Rocking the Boat – taking bold, brave and authentic action,’ hosted by Leila McKenzie Delis, founder and CEO of DIAL Global.
Speaking on the panel, Batra outlined how he found a “huge degree of responsibility” in “how to change the world for everyone else,” following the path his life took. Growing up in Nottingham, England, he was the son of an immigrant family who was only one of three people of colour in his school of 800. After experiencing racism most of his life during his formative years (as the UK was seeing a rise in prominence of the National Front and extremist rightwing organisations in politics), he left school with very few qualifications.
But he managed to get into college after taking conversion courses and ended up studying law, becoming a solicitor and then eventually ended up at EY. He says he has risen to a position where he spends his career trying to make changes for society, including being heavily involved with diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts inside and outside the organisation, including with the Parker Review.
Society is “moving from make, take, and waste” and now we are “creating metrics for broader values,” he said.
He said that at the heart of making change is what we can all do to drive accountability — and that comes down to metrics. He outlines how weaving D&I into the “fabric” of organisations through metric accountability measures will make the difference.
For example, making D&I efforts part of performance and annual reporting requirements, how leaders and businesses are creating broader stakeholder value, as well as how are contracts being awarded with a demonstration of diverse proficiency.
“It would be pretty foolish for any business to ignore the measures I’ve mentioned. Talent also responds to inclusive leaders and businesses,” he said.
“There’s often a disconnect between intention and doing the right thing, and impact — impact on the ground.
“This [D&I] is not just an HR issue, it needs to be integrated throughout the business.”
Metrics and accountability is not down to HR
Over the last couple of years, it has become more widely pointed out that diversity, inclusion, and belonging at work is not just down to the human resources (HR) function of a business.
The people who create a diverse and inclusive working environment is each and every one of us — how we interact with our colleagues and how we lead a team.
McKenzie Delis pointed out that “it is not HR’s sole responsibility — it’s a board-wide responsibility. It’s a business imperative.”
WBA’s Murphy is a leader at the company which has about 400,000 staff worldwide. She says that it doesn’t matter if you’re junior or C-suite, “it’s how you show up every day.”
But apart from the softer skills, she says “it’s important that right at the heart” of making change is accountability, and metrics is a vehicle for that.
“Performance objective is right at the heart accountability... with also continuous learning, pillars of new activity, clear governance and grounds of change,” which will make sure that talk around diversity and inclusion doesn’t just become “a wish list and a set of aspirations.”
For example, over the last few months, WBA launched its own racial equality action board and put in place activities and assessment of how they also show up to consumers and hold each other to account.
Co-op’s Webb agrees that metrics is essential to making sure D&I efforts does not just fall into all talk and no action.
“Starting with leadership we launched new set of leadership capabilities for ‘endless inclusion.’ Each leader is measured and has to demonstrate what they are doing to make the workplace more diverse and inclusive and for racial equality,” she said.
All those leaders have an objective and are provided with the tools and bespoke development and goals for each organisation by HR but it’s up to the leaders to create that change, added Webb.
“If you only focus on HR, you will fail because it won’t create an inclusive environment. So, it is important to talk about people and communities and work within each unit and also be inclusive in the way we operate and allocate funds, as well as from a commercial perspective and with the suppliers we deal with around governance structure,” she said.
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