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Businesses mistake integration for inclusion

Vinay Kapoor, UK head of diversity and inclusion for BNP Paribas, shares his experiences

Many businesses mistake integration for inclusion, according to Vinay Kapoor, UK head of diversity and inclusion for BNP Paribas.

"Exclusion happens when there is an in group and an out group, whereas separation occurs when there is a barrier between groups, such as regional offices," Kapoor said at the Radius Employee Network Leadership programme launch event. "Integration means that there is diversity among your employees, but there is still a core nucleus of decision makers that is not diverse. True inclusion happens when everybody is treated as a valued part of the organisation.”

Kapoor explained how his attitude towards diversity has been shaped by his own experiences. “When it came to my first role I stood in front of the recruiter as an overweight Asian 16-year-old,” he said. “They put me to work in IT because that is the stereotype, just like it is the stereotype that Asian women will go into HR or accounting and finance.”

He suggested that one of the best ways to convince senior leaders to appreciate the value of diversity is to present a strong business case. “The moral case can only get you so far,” he said. “It might, for example, be moral to throw a Christmas party every day for your staff but that is not going to pay the bills. You must show how it affects the bottom line.”

Polly Shute, director of sponsorship and fundraising for Pride in London, explained that LGBT networks are becoming more inclusive.

“We increasingly see networks not just for standard LGBT candidates, which you might expect to be a gay white male, but also including a broader spectrum,” she said. “For example, more inclusion of trans people, bisexual employees, those from BAME backgrounds, and older and younger LGBT people.

“These networks really matter, and they can really make a difference with the right support.”