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Hot topic part one: Do diverse hires lead to more inclusive policies?

Succeeding Boris Johnson, new prime minister Liz Truss has been hailed for appointing one of the most diverse cabinets in UK history.

It includes Kwasi Kwarteng of Ghanaian heritage as the new chancellor of the exchequer; James Cleverly, whose mother is from Sierra Leone, as foreign secretary, and home secretary Suella Braverman, who is of Indian heritage.

But will diverse hires automatically lead to more inclusive policy? Is the same true in business?


Veronica Hope Hailey, director of policy and research, The Forward Institute

The diversity of a senior team is symbolic of an organisation’s values.

In that sense Liz Truss is to be applauded for putting together a cabinet which is much more representative of the multi-cultural and multi-faith society that is 21st-century UK. However, that is only one form of diversity.

Having conducted 125 interviews with CEOs, CFOs and other senior executives since the start of the pandemic, one of the things they told me was that they needed to hear a range of different perspectives in order to rapidly find the best solutions for the complex people problems they faced.

It is worrying then, that the prime minister has been criticised by some for not choosing a cabinet that embraces diverse viewpoints from across the whole Conservative party. Let’s hope she reaches out into other sources of expertise within Whitehall and beyond.

More on workplace diversity:

Rethinking workplace diversity

Diversity and inclusion: stretching both ends of the talent pipeline

D&I clinic: What do I do about employees who deny their own privilege?


Tolu Farinto, change-maker, Utopia

Effectively what Boris Johnson did as a precursor is what we at Utopia a diversity clad.

They may have been from a certain colour or cultural background, but they, and the current cabinet, still don’t adequately reflect the needs of our society, especially with the backdrop of an economic crisis and rising cost of living. Let alone other minoritised experiences.

If there’s a gap between the lived experiences of the people in your unit and the people they’re supposed to serve, then that doesn’t work. But if you can truly reflect the range in your society that’s when you leverage the real benefits of diversity.

We need politics and politicians to lean into actively seeking to reach an equitable power share within a range of communities to achieve real change.

There’s a fallacy that people at grass roots aren’t interested in politics. They are. Either as leaders in the communities they represent or as activists. We have to be more intentional about reaching, recruiting and retaining them.



Check back tomorrow for part two of this hot topic.

This piece appears in the September/October 2022 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk.