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D&I is an ongoing journey


Speakers at the CIPD conference highlighted the importance of inclusion as well as diversity

Diversity should be viewed as an ongoing journey and not an initiative with an end point, according to Simon Fanshawe, co-founder of LGBT charity Stonewall and partner of Diversity by Design.

Speaking at the annual CIPD conference in Manchester, Fanshawe said that diversity is often misunderstood. "Diversity is something you journey towards, not an arrival point," he said. "The question is the pace and scale of the change."

He said that recent global events have been influenced by growing acceptance of the importance of diversity. "In the US we see identity politics taken to an absurd level with white people claiming they are discriminated against," he said. "This is a reaction to what has been won. The advancement of civil rights is having a reaction, and we're in the peak moment of action:reaction."

However, Fanshawe added that some people will view diversity as a threat. "In some sense it is a zero-sum game," he said. "If you broaden your pipeline you are introducing new competition for those who aren't terribly good at their job. But this is all about levelling the playing field."

Also speaking at the conference, HR and culture consultant Huma Qazi said that it is not enough for companies to only be diverse. "Diversity is the state of being different," she said. "But inclusion is the state of being involved, and giving each individual the ability to fulfil their potential. One is just a mix, but the other is making sure that mix works well."

She said there were certain "red flags" or signs that show a diversity programme is not working. "You might have a shiny statement, and the chief executive says the right things, but a lack of evidence is a red flag," she said. "Having few or no diversity role models is another."

She also highlighted "green flags" that signal the organisation is handling D&I well. "A good sign is hearing people talking about it: when you hear people having a conversation about race issues and LGBT issues," she said. "Another is when you get a sense of direction – when you can see the map of where your diversity programme is going beyond just one initiative."