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How do you put diversity and inclusion at the heart of industry?

No one ever said switching the dial on the diversity and inclusion agenda was going to be easy.

But despite constant setbacks, thankfully, there are clear signs that things are changing.

That was our key takeaway from the CBI’s recent Diversity and Inclusion Conference that looked at a number of issues in a realistic, informative and … well, inclusive way!

Let’s take a look at the first day and watch out for our next blog on some of the issues raised during sessions on the following one.

Covid and the impact of the pandemic

The risk that progress on D&I could slow or go backwards is real. But evidence shows that focusing on D&I helps firms recover from a crisis more quickly.

This conference and introductory session explored these challenges and the CBI aimed to help leaders to act within their organisations in the economic recovery. It also reflected on the D&I agenda for the Government in the future.

Some blogs:

It’s time to change the race ratio | CBI

Invisible barriers | CBI

Improving Black leadership across business | CBI

Imposter syndrome is having a negative effect

Many people of colour and those in minority groups experience imposter syndrome, categorised by “chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.”

While everyone is subject to this experience, people who are underrepresented in the workplace can be hit by it harder.

Many discussions took place about imposter syndrome at the conference with a special focus on how an individual can recover from the feeling.

However, perhaps an equally important area is on how to ease or minimise the occurrence of this experience within internal cultures.

There are structural and societal reasons for this increased imposter syndrome amongst underrepresented populations and as such, the onus should not be solely on them to “get over it”—employers can and should help ease the burden.

The continued focus on unconscious bias 

The disconnect between how difficult a task is believed to be, and how difficult it actually is, can cause imposter syndrome.

For example, if there is a perception that getting a computer science certificate is intensely difficult, and then a student completes the program without much difficulty, they might feel as though they have tricked everyone with their accomplishment.

Now imagine that the student holds identities that have been underserved and underrepresented, and as such has internalised biases their whole life about what they are and are not good at.

There have been plenty of studies revealing biases in the workplace, such as women being assumed less competent than men and people of colour being less likely to get job interviews.

These biases implicitly (and sometimes explicitly) can create a false belief that underrepresented populations have sub-par abilities.

The internalisation of those biases can make a person from an underrepresented identity think that an accomplishment like this should have been harder for them than it actually was. And that disconnect can be a strong driver of imposter syndrome.

This needs some serious attention from our industry leaders.

A great quote that really stood out

Believe it or not but the CBI was quoting Lenin!

The comment was: “There are decades where nothing happens and there are weeks where decades happen!”

There is no doubt that pandemic has impacted different strands of diversity in different ways. It has exacerbated existing inequalities for groups such as women and people from ethnic minorities.

But on the other hand, employers have built more empathy for personal circumstances of their employees such as caring responsibilities, health considerations, disabilities, and mental health.

Questions that emerge here include: What are the learnings and longer-term implications of the pandemic on diversity and inclusion in the workplace? How do we ensure that we get underrepresented talent in to work in the future?

Lots still to do and answer, but lots also being achieved.

Get involved! As ever we would be very interested in anyone else’s thoughts on these key issues.


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This post was written by sarahrice

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