STOP ‘doing’ gender diversity and focus on inclusion

Wed, October 10, 2018

The Ocean Partnerships says STOP focusing so much on the 'gender agenda' and focus on inclusion through understanding data, science and learning. 

This morning Ocean hosted a breakfast on how to make diversity and inclusion relevant within an investment industry context. The session opened with looking at how to understand the basic definitions of diversity and then expanded on how we need to separate diversity from inclusion to make progress. Our Diversity & Inclusion Director, Peter Hall, provided a snapshot of the current make-up of the industry and explored some of the challenges it currently faces. You will be pleased to know that it isn’t all bleak!

A key theme from the session was how to bring people on the journey in light of ‘diversity and inclusion fatigue’. The investment industry has tended to focus on the ‘gender agenda’ and campaigns such as 'women on boards' and the gender pay gap reporting, whilst they provide good and relevant steps, they have also alienated the majority. One step forward two steps back. The danger with this approach is that the sector isn’t thinking broadly enough and it is ‘doing’ diversity and inclusion for the sake of it without stopping to actually think why? We pointed out that those at the top often ‘get it’ but the real challenge is in changing mindsets at all levels and this only comes through thinking and acceptance. But how does one achieve this?

We must be careful not to force square pegs into round holes. The impact of this can work to the detriment of diversity and inclusion progress. At Ocean we take a much more broader and positive view of the current diversity mix within the sector and that we need to accept it and move forward. Instead of focusing purely on gender and general diversity and inclusion themes, we believe that firms need to switch thinking to how can we produce better outcomes for our employees, clients and investors.  

The fact today is “Mental Health Awareness day” was not lost.  The session looked at how asset management firms could be pro-active on this agenda. The opportunity for firms to employ “Mental Health first-aiders” as well as look at Mental Health through an intersectionality lens - assessing the impact on LGBT+ and BAME employees was also discussed. 

The trick to making this work is by starting and continuing the conversation about cognitive diversity. This must be explained in the context of data and research to prove the benefit for all. This makes diversity more relatable. Only then can you open up the conversation to talk about how best to achieve broader cognitive diversity and only one tool is gender balance.

Separate diversity from inclusion. The investment industry should aspire to get to grips with diversity of thought and then use this to build robust inclusion strategies which will naturally lead to better representation. 

Participants were asked to identify actions which they are were committed to taking action on and embedding in their respective firms. 

Our next event: How to manage inter-generational teams - Breakfast Seminar.

Please book early to ensure you are not disappointed.

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D&I Metrics

What gets measured gets done. That is why we collect diversity metrics on both our candidates and clients in line with the Data Protection and Equality Acts. This allows us to identify areas requiring additional focus and also to measure progress across the industry. With biases prevalence through the employee lifecycle we actively utilize our diversity data to demonstrate where barriers exist and to create solutions to overcome them.