C-Suite Advisory

Diversity and inclusion, say less and do more

The Black Lives Matters Movement has taken the conversation on Diversity & Inclusion to the next level.  At Speakers Corner, a UK & International speaker bureau, they have seen a huge increase in bookings taken for speakers to attend virtual events and discuss how to take a conversation into change.

Nick Gold, MD of Speakers Corner, will discuss why brands need to say less and do more, and how they can use live virtual events to move the conversation to the next level. We are at a point in time where every voice matters. A time where forecasting what comes next based on historical precedent or credibility based on academic credentials is being challenged.  We are progressing to a world where it is  understood that everyone has an opinion based on their experiences,  and  knowledge. These opinions and beliefs cannot be challenged as being ‘wrong’ or ‘mis-informed’,  in fact these opinions and thoughts actually have as much voice as anyone else and thus can influence others to help them form opinions

Delving into history, the Fourth Industrial Revolution or the Digital Revolution changed the way individuals and business think, behave and exist.  It brought about a period of change which is unsurpassed in both its extent as well as the rate of change.  One of the overriding aspects of the revolution, which continually manifests itself as a significant by-product to any step change that occurs, is the democratisation of the voice or the expert.

Over the last month, The Black Lives Matters Movement has taken these voices and shaken up the status-quo at a time when the natural order of the human race is facing new unprecedented challenges.  It has created an understanding that natural prejudice and preconceived ideas should be, in fact must be, questioned.  Our basic assumptions should be challenged, and we need to expect that this should bring feelings of discomfort and unease.

As individuals, the focus on diversity and inclusion has taken us to the next stage where words are not enough but rather, we require action and change.  The movement has come to the fore in tragic circumstances but during a time when uncomfortable situations are part of everyday life. As individuals, we are questioning our purpose and role in society.  We, at a time of global pandemic, are feeling vulnerable  but at the same time more willing to open our senses to new ways of thinking. There is a growing understanding that we need to be better as individuals in a world which ‘normal’ can be snatched away from us without any logic or actions by ourselves.

For businesses, this has seismically moved the needle around diversity and inclusion.  It is no longer acceptable for businesses to demonstrate their credentials by highlighting a number that indicates a diverse workplace or board.  It is no longer acceptable for values to be stressed and reinforced in the public image which are not then reinforced and materialised through the working practices of businesses.  But most critically it is no longer acceptable for businesses to feel that they can interpret what their diverse customer base requires if they are not operating in a diverse environment as a business themselves.

These challenges for business, as per the challenge for individuals, has meant a shift in focus from thought leadership and strategic analysis to asking questions as a starting place. .  Asking questions and creating an environment which encourages people to be inquisitive and confront the inequalities that society faces may be the best place to begin.

In order to break down stigma and unspoken bias, the first place is to challenge assumptions and unconscious thinking. Speaking out is the first step towards an acknowledgement that what has happened historically does not mean it is acceptable going forward. From a commercial perspective, neither does historical precedent mean that continual business growth will be achieved by maintaining the same baseline assumptions.

Businesses need to embrace uncomfortable truths and questions in the same way they are having to embrace uncertainty and change.  All these statements might by the antithesis of a carefully structured vision of a business and as such is the direct opposite of how we have been trained to think and behave.  Yet, if we engage with the right people, who ask the right questions, who challenge without accusing, who question without blaming, then this is an opportunity for business leaders to start thinking differently.

In conclusion, this time is an opportunity for individuals to be enthusiastic about learning once again to become better people.  As a business, it is a chance to embrace the opportunities that can arise when new waves of thinking are discovered.   These are times when we can grow as individuals, where we can enhance our businesses and take society forward to a better place. This should be a place where every person is treated equally and is given opportunities based on their abilities and aspirations.

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Nick Gold
Nick Gold is the owner and Managing Director of Speakers Corner, a market-leading speaker bureau and consultancy with a portfolio of over 6,500 speakers, servicing over 1,000 events each year across all UK business sectors. Speakers Corner source and supply after dinner, motivational and keynote speakers, facilitators, awards hosts, comedians and celebrities for conferences and events. Nick Gold is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow Nick on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.