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Using a Diversity Dictionary to overcome fear of saying the wrong thing

The benefits of a business with people from different backgrounds are clear. Not only does it bring diversity of thought and allow people to learn from different experiences, but it can also help attract a bigger pool of talent, too.

While the benefits may be well-understood, it’s clear that many businesses are still struggling to create an inclusive environment.

One of the biggest barriers to inclusivity is a lack of confidence and understanding when discussing topics of diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace. 

In fact, more than half (55%) of respondents in a 2021 survey claimed that they are scared to say the “wrong thing” when discussing issues in these areas.

In the absence of real understanding of these topics, people are opting to steer clear of the subject entirely, which can be more damaging in the long-term.

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There’s no perfect formula, but as a minimum business leaders need to be listening to employees to better understand how they can be more inclusive, and then create a DE&I strategy that is reflective of those needs.

At Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I we recognise the importance of putting practises in place that can help encourage meaningful conversations.

One of our latest steps to do so has been the creation of a Diversity Dictionary - a new resource for everybody across our European business that includes a glossary of key terms relating to DE&I and our commitments in these areas.

The dictionary which we offer free on our website to everybody focuses on five key topics, aligned to our DE&I pillars: women in leadership, race and ethnicity, LGBTQ+, age and disability.

It aims to help people feel comfortable having conversations on issues in these areas and provides them with a tool that they can regularly refer to and learn from.

Our entire executive committee strongly believes that we need to create an environment where, whatever your background, if you have the potential, you are given the opportunities at work to realise this.

This is part of what we call our Growing for Good vision – a commitment to positive change inside and outside of our business.

We believe we can only Grow for Good if we have a diverse and equitable workplace and an inclusive working culture, where everyone is welcome, treated fairly, made part of our community and given the chance to thrive.

We know there is still more work for us to do, but we are proud of the steps we continue to take to improve.  We know that by promoting diversity in our employee base, as well as embracing diverse values and ideas, we can bring forth even greater value to our business and society.

The last two years have been like no other for society. However, by creating an inclusive company culture that responds directly to changing people's needs, businesses have the opportunity to attract and retain a much happier and healthier workforce - and in turn - fuel innovation and business growth.


Jola Brooking is people and culture director at Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I