Why diverse communities are a corporate superpower


Companies can learn so much from local diverse community groups and organisations.  They really are the superpower which needs to be unleashed. It’s pretty obvious if you stop and think about it: they are closer to the talented and diverse people whose outlook, specific skills, experience and empathy will enrich an organisation.  But they need to be aligned and involved.

Unlock the Potential

Understanding, from firsthand experience, how to be more accessible, inclusive and open to new ideas is a game-changer for organisations.  And their local diverse communities hold the keys to unlock this potential.

What should you look to do?

Social mobility is a major goal for organisations.  It starts by having better representation across your organisation so others who share one or more protected characteristics can see people who look like themselves.  They are aspirational figures.  Less role models – more real models.

Actively Engage

Reach out to your local community.  Go into schools and colleges, work with local charities and community groups.  By bringing people together you can get the conversation started.  Wherever possible, engage colleagues from diverse backgrounds to be the ones leading this charge as these ‘real models’ sharing their story and journey will encourage others to look far closer at you. Influential colleagues in high profile positions would be great in this role but don’t shy away from letting junior and younger colleagues take the lead. If their live experience is the most authentic in your organisation, support them with a mentor or a more senior colleague’s guidance and give them the confidence to speak up.

Collaboration is Essential

Organisations learn from communities.  An organisation which is EDI aware has a differentiation which makes it attractive to people while ensures a high rate of talent retention.  And a local community is more loyal to an organisation that believes in them, either as an employer or as a client.

Not a One Way Street

I also need to say that communities can also learn from you.  Reading what I’ve written can make it all sound so simple; if it were then everyone would be doing it.  Communities need to have faith in you.  Just as you will continue to experience some resistance to EDI initiatives, people in local communities will also have their prejudices.  These need to be addressed in ways which help to remove these feelings.  It is a case of belief and trust.

Making connections is your first step.  You then need to get people to come into your organisation to speak about how their community feels and how your EDI policies and practices can be aligned to support them and bring out the very best they have to offer.

You Don’t Know What You Can’t See

It is through seeing and listening to these people that your organisation’s C-suite will learn and understand.  They need to appreciate the struggle many people experience on a daily basis, the bias they face, be it conscious or unconscious, relating to their background, ethnicity, sexuality, education, postcode and more.  People from minority backgrounds may have great qualifications and amazing skills but the odds remain stacked against them!

Open the Doors

If you are from a diverse background, having a mentor/champion (having a chance!) can make the world of difference to you.  I was 25 before I really managed to think about anything remotely resembling a ‘career’.  As a black man who had grown up in care I didn’t have the best start in life.  But someone else’s time and faith in me allowed me to have faith in myself.  Community support opened the door for me.  We all need to open more doors and key to my philosophy at Inclusive Companies is to encourage and support our member organisations to do just that.

Leading by example

A fine example of how partnerships can enrich organisations and communities is OVO, the company providing energy to homes with a deeply ethical approach, and the Aleto Foundation, who seeks to work with partners to get young people into careers of their choice and accelerate their career path irrespective of their backgrounds.  My conversation with Alessandro Storer, Head of Inclusion and Belonging at OVO, is eye-opening, massively inspiring and absolutely inspirational.  This is community engagement in action!

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