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62: From Bystander to Ally: How to Avoid DEIB Washing

Today, we’re taking our DEIB conversation to the next level. We’ll explore what it truly means to be an ally, the importance of fostering a sense of belonging, and the pitfalls of DEI washing.

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Today, we’re taking our DEIB conversation to the next level. We’ll explore what it truly means to be an ally, the importance of fostering a sense of belonging, and the pitfalls of DEI washing.

Joining us are four incredible experts who will shed light on these crucial topics.

Allyship – Moving Beyond Passive Support

  • Allyship is more than just a buzzword. Our first guest, Shelley O’Connor, LGBTQ+ Co-Chair at The Bank of England, shares insights on what it means to be an ally in 2023 and beyond. We discuss the actions that go beyond passive support and how individuals and organisations can make a real impact.

Belonging – The Heart of DEIB

  • Feeling a sense of belonging is fundamental to DEIB efforts. In this segment, we’re joined by Farhana Kuddus, a global leader in DEI who has worked with organisations such as Sky and NASA. Together, we delve into why belonging is the heart of DEI and explore the strategies to create inclusive environments where everyone feels valued.

DEI Washing – Recognising and Avoiding the Pitfalls

  • DEI washing is a term that’s been gaining attention. Jessica Schibli, Interim Head of Creative Diversity at the BBC, helps us understand the importance of representation in DEI and the difference between authentic DEI efforts and surface-level actions.

Data-led DEI – Leveraging Insights for Change

  • Data is a powerful tool for DEI initiatives. Kulbir Sergill, Director of Social Inclusion at University of Warwick, shares how organisations can leverage data-driven approaches to make meaningful change.

Culture-led DEI – Nurturing Inclusivity From Within

  • In our final segment, we discuss culture-led DEI with our experts. We explore how organizational culture plays a crucial role in fostering DEI and how leaders can lead by example. Our guests provide actionable tips for creating lasting change.

We hope this episode inspires you to take meaningful actions and embrace DEIB in your personal and professional life.


Connect with Shelley O’Connor from the Bank of England

Connect with Kulbir Sergill from the University of Warwick

Connect with Jessica Schibli from the BBC

Connect with Farhana Kuddus

More from Make a Difference Media

For more content on DEIB, check out:

Tips to Create and Employee Resource Group:

How to be an Ally to LGBTQ+ Colleagues

Confessions of Warner Bros. Chief DEI Officer, Asif Sadiq

Connect with your hosts

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The Transcript

⚠️ NOTE: This is an automated transcript, so it might not always be 100% accurate!

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Speaker 1 0:00
You don’t have to be perfect as long as someone has a safe space and can have a voice you’re winning

Leanne Elliott 0:13
Hello, and welcome to the truth life and workplace culture podcast brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. What is it l it’s the audio destination for business professionals. My name is Leanne. I’m a Business psychologist.

Al Elliott 0:25
My name is Al and I’m a business owner and we

Leanne Elliott 0:28
are here to help you simplify the science of people and create amazing workplace cultures.

Al Elliott 0:32
Yeah, I’m one of the things that came out from the Mad World conference a couple of weeks ago now is EDI inclusion. dei B. There’s lots of words for it. Don’t worry, we’re gonna go into all of those again. We have done an episode previously on this, which we call dei 101, I think which was basically went into I think we had the amazing Sonia Thompson on they went into a little bit about what you need to know, as a beginner, this is a little bit more advanced. But I promise you this is one of the themes that will 2024 will be all about so you need to be on top of this.

Leanne Elliott 1:03
Yes, absolutely. There is sadly, again, no time for the news roundup this week. It will come back I promise. But yeah, I guess this episode is a news roundup. It is the word of the week. The organization’s to watch is the people who are cool. It is everything that news roundup would normally include anyway, so yeah, this week, we are talking about diversity, equity and inclusion and specifically, what we learned about future trends of dei at the Mad World Summit, where we were the official podcast, I’m not sure if we’ve told you but we were. So this episode is once again brought to you in partnership with MadWorld and make a difference media, which is the all year round media channel that supports both MadWorld and the water cooler event.

Al Elliott 1:44
So we have three amazing guests, including Shelley O’Connor from the Bank of England, Jessica Shibley. From the BBC, you might have heard of them, and cobia circle who’s from the University of Warwick, but also it’s got a really interesting background. She’s worked basically everywhere. She’s a cool, very, very cool woman. We also had a conversation on zoom with Farhana Curtis, who’s a global dei leader who’s worked with Sky and NASA. Yeah, that NASA she’s worked for NASA. And while she wasn’t there at the mad world event this year, she is a speaker on the circuit. And she’s got vast expertise and we knew that she had value to bring this conversation which is why we included her yes and regular

Leanne Elliott 2:22
listeners may well remember episode 45 which is EDI 101 for leaders, breaking barriers and fostering inclusive workplaces with the incredible Katherine Garrett who were conscious inclusion. And Sonya Thompson, our friend from the HubSpot Podcast Network, her show inclusion and marketing is want to check out if you are new to the area of Dei, we’d highly recommend that you go back and listen to that episode. It’s episode 45 EDI one on one for leaders. We will leave a link because today we are taking the conversation further.

Al Elliott 2:54
Yeah, and I’m always as a business owner, not an expert like Lian. I’m always saying, Look, just give me the skinny give me the the 8020 of all of this so that I can get my head round it. So Leanne has put these into five particular areas, which is going to make things so much easier for you. So the first one is Ally ship or word I hadn’t heard of until we went to the Mad World and he was all over. So if you’ve not heard of it, you will do in 12 months time it will be everywhere. Second one is belonging, which is the B in di B. The third one is dei washing. If you’ve heard of wellness, washing or green washing, then a lot of people are going oh yeah, we do dei because it’s the cool thing to do. They don’t really they’re just basically they’re just basically making it up. The fourth thing is data lead EDI if you know anything about Leann, you’ll know that she loves data almost as much as she loves me her husband, almost. And finally culture lead dei confused, don’t worry about it. We’ll be walking you through all of this, the expert Leanne will be talking through and if there’s anything that sounds bit like sounds a bit sciency. I’ll be asking the questions to make sure that she tells us exactly what we need to know. We have

Leanne Elliott 3:57
four incredible guests to help us explore the latest trends and best practice in EDI. So let’s go and meet them out.

Al Elliott 4:05
The first one is Shelly O’Connor who from the Bank of England. Shelley is a performance manager and LGBTQ plus network co chair. You might remember from last week’s episode, we featured a small snippet from her. But if you missed it, here’s an introduction to Shelly.

Speaker 1 4:18
So Shelly O’Connor pronouns she her. And yes, LGBT co chair at the Bank of England. And I’ve been in co chair for a few years now. But I’ve actually been in the bank for 12 years. So I’m a long standing member, shall we say? And my day job, I’m a work in HR. So I’m a performance manager. So the appraisals interview performance and all that fun stuff. Our second

Leanne Elliott 4:41
guest is cobia sir Gil cobia is the Director of Social Inclusion at the University of Warwick before transitioning into higher education cobia worked for some of the private sectors biggest players, including Grant Thornton and KPMG. Let’s meet cobia and hear more about her work. lack and her transition into the University of Warwick, it was

Speaker 4 5:03
the role at the University, which was a new role for them. Because they really wanted to take a very holistic approach a strategic approach to inclusion for both the students, their staff, and actually what it was that they were doing, how they were doing it, and how of the kind of inclusion agenda actually impacted on their outputs. So for me, that was a really kind of interesting challenge to bring what I had been doing in very different sectors to a university, which kind of quite unique culture is actually they’re very, very different from anywhere that I worked before. So for me, that was a real kind of interest and a challenge.

Al Elliott 5:50
Our third guest is Jessica Shibley, who is the interim head of creative diversity at the BBC. Let’s go meet Jess.

Speaker 5 5:57
My name is Jessica Shibley. And I work at the BBC. My role is interim head of creative diversity. Primarily, it’s looking at making sure that we’ve got representation in our content that’s on and off screen and making sure that the production companies that we work with are diverse and inclusive, and I guess effectively, serving our audiences and providing value to all our audiences.

Leanne Elliott 6:25
And last, but certainly not least, we are thrilled to welcome to the podcast for Harnack who Das, a global di leader who’s worked with I don’t know a little organization you might heard I’ve called NASA

Speaker 6 6:36
professionally, I’m a global diversity and equity inclusion leader. I also am a professional in change as a change maker. So driving change, defining change, building change and making it happen. And hand in hand with that goes diversity, equity inclusion, absolutely love what I do. People are at the heart of that. Therefore it all day every day. Okay, like,

Al Elliott 7:01
those are our wonderful guests. Let’s dive into Topic number one, which is

Leanne Elliott 7:05
Ally ship. If you listened last week, you’ll already know that ally ship emerged as a key trend at the MadWorld summit and in dei practice. So being an ally in the workplace means continually working to champion an environment of inclusivity of mutual respect in the workplace. You know, traditionally big an ally men using your personal privilege to support colleagues from what would perhaps be historically marginalized communities. So as just explained, being an ally isn’t something that you can just do is just oh, I’m an ally. It’s it’s not a noun, it’s a verb, if that makes sense. So we need to employ that empathy, that agency and those resources to truly be an ally of marginalized communities. I’d like you to try and remember that definition. As we explore ally ship. Our first guest, Shelly O’Connor, LGBTQ plus co chair at the Bank of England brings this to life really beautifully, introducing us to an employee reference group.

Speaker 1 8:07
So ERG, employee reference group networks, different people have different names, we call them network staff, networks, colleague networks, and they are the communities that are, you know, an organization that can really make a difference in DNI. So an allies are important. So as I mentioned, I’m co chair of the LGBTQ plus network, and I’m the first ally, co chair of the network. And the network has been running for 17 years now. Being allies and stepping up when the communities aren’t in the room are just Yeah, Ally, Ally ship is a very important subject for me and to make a difference. So an employee

Leanne Elliott 8:43
reference group, or ERG, is an employee ladder group that usually shares a characteristic such as gender or ethnicity or sexual orientation. They exist to provide support and highlight unique challenges, and use their resources to make change that will create a safe space for employees in an organization and operating in this way. ERGs are a source of allyship

Al Elliott 9:07
as a smaller business, obviously, Bank of England massive as a smaller business, I wanted to find out whether you can actually do ERGs in smaller businesses. So I said to Shelly, let’s just imagine we’ve got 20 or 30 employees, does this still work

Speaker 1 9:20
or whether it’s your colleagues of ethnic minority or people of color, or LGBTQ plus or women, men, different genders, non binary, like so everyone will have a voice and have different lived experience. So for your organization to thrive, you need to listen to all voices around the table. So the network’s it doesn’t have to be if you’re that small organization has to be a well organized steering group or meetings. It could literally just be one or two people representing that community because when you do eventually grow because most businesses want to grow, you’ve got a starting block to kind of have that safe space for them colleagues.

Leanne Elliott 9:57
So as I mentioned typically II AR G’s will be created by people who share a characteristic. But people that don’t share this characteristic may also be invited to join an erg. And in this way, they become allies, because they’re using the empathy, that agency and their resources are part of the group to promote the voice of others that need it. cobia, who was Director of Social Inclusion at the University of Warwick believes that individual allies, and not just important but crucial to inclusion,

Speaker 4 10:27
of course, I think anybody can be an ally. You know, I think that’s the whole point of inclusion, being an ally is actually being able to not necessarily, that you may identify as being part of a certain group, but actually being able to have some insight and some empathy and some understanding of what it is like, for somebody who may be completely different to you may have a completely different background, or even values to you. But actually just being able to step out of yourself, and saying, Okay, I’m not the same as that person, but I get it, I can see all the challenges that you face. And you know, what, there are ways that I can kind of help and kind of challenging some of that myself, I may not be able to do all of it, I may not know all the answers, because I’m not you. But if I can help, then these are the things I can do.

Al Elliott 11:19
For Hana also provided some really practical advice on how to build an erg and how to contribute as an ally. And like most things, it starts with intention.

Speaker 6 11:27
And now it’s your presence. And now it’s your, your intention. But most importantly, go through that intention to make the impact. Often we’ll sit here and say it doesn’t come across genuine, or I don’t know how to stop. But actually, the first thing we can do is stop. So first of all know this, you’re absolutely welcome. And we want you and then beyond that had the conversation. And most importantly, let’s explore what we can do together.

Al Elliott 11:55
cobia also went on to, to recommend respectful curiosity, as is useful tool to becoming an ally, as a leader,

Speaker 4 12:03
and I talk about respectful curiosity. So it’s that kind of balance of being curious, but being respectful with it, you know, and just being sensitive to how you’re asking questions and where you’re asking questions. And actually, you might start with your own kind of knowledge, there’s so much information out there. You know, most kinds of employee resource groups and campaigning organizations will have websites. So there’s lots of things you can do just to kind of read stuff up before you maybe even start talking, which may make you feel a little bit more confident about asking some of the questions you might want to ask. But, you know, asking people questions about themselves, obviously, is a very personal could be a very intrusive thing to get to know people first, you know, it’s thinking about our friends, you know, our best friends, we could ask them anything, can’t we? It’s kind of like they don’t feel threatened by it. Because we know where we’re at. We have a trust issue. Maybe that’s the first point start

Leanne Elliott 13:05
building relationships, building empathy often start with understanding and as cobia said, that being respectfully curious by asking close people, questions, or even just reading up on key issues can be hugely helpful. Another hugely powerful way of building empathy is through storytelling. And the BBC has been committed to this mission for more than 100 years. Today, their values have still aligned with that they include things like providing information to help people engage, understand the world around them, to support the learning of people of all ages, and to reflect and represent the diverse communities of the UK. Our guest, Jessica Shibley, worked at the heart of this mission as interim head of creative diversity at the BBC.

Speaker 5 13:49
Yeah, I think we’re in a very unique position. And I think it’s a very privileged position actually. And I think it’s one that everyone I work with takes with a lot of pride, passion, but also realizes the kind of how acute that responsibility is, as well. And as a public service broadcaster, and you know, at the very heart of our or existences is providing that public service and providing value for all audiences. And my background actually is in children’s TV. And for me, that scenario that I’ve been so so passionate about, because I just feel that especially for young audiences, to be able to see yourself represented in front end in TV is so so important. And I think he actually shapes how you see yourself and how confident you might be about your identity. But also how you see the world as well. And I think we cannot underestimate the power that media can have on society, and especially coming from that children’s media space. You know, I think it really can drive how how children see each other, and in our content to make sure that, you know, audiences can see families like theirs, or different characteristics like theirs, whether it’s disability, whether it’s LGBTQ plus whether it’s raised culture, religion, and you know, different houses of different homes. And I think that for us in the broadest sense, we want to represent and reflect the whole of the UK and represent or, you know, the demographic of UK, I think it comes down to, I guess, the stories, and I think it’s, for us, you know, audiences are at the very heart of what we do. And I think even the example I gave with the Children’s drama, and you know, even the response we’ve seen over the last couple of days that you’re after announcing that there’s a season two coming out, I think it’s seeing that that audience feedback and hearing how it’s actually changing people’s lives. And we’ve got another brilliant comedy that came out this year called dreaming whilst black, again, you know, sort of landmark portrayal of content, I highly recommend it if you haven’t watched it, absolutely brilliant series. And, you know, we had diversity through and throughout the production team, the writer, the the lead actor, also lots of incidental diversity. And then, and then when we sort of see that response from the audience, I think that makes us like, really proud makes me proud to see, you know, this is the impact that it’s having. I think it’s just like, especially with that one, I think the audience is saying that actually, this represents, like, their experience, and the feeling that their stories are being told. And I think, you know, I think when history we haven’t had as much diversity, I think that people feel like their stories. I mean, I just think me, personally, myself growing up, I didn’t feel that I would even expect to see myself on screen, let alone a story of a family like mine being told. And I think when we say, you know, we sort of, especially with the children’s mental people, like actually, that person, that character is like me, or this family is like me, or this experience, we’re dreaming sorts about with a lot of people saying, Oh, my God, this, this really depicts my experience. I mean, it’s really powerful.

Leanne Elliott 17:23
It might sound a bit glib to say that watching TV shows about marginalized communities will help you build empathy and understanding and perhaps motivate your agency. But you know, that there are TV shows that have have impacted societal change. I mean, willing Grace was quoted by Joe Biden when he was talking about equal marriage rights in the US. I think he said something like that show taught, taught people more than anything else we’ve ever done. Did you think that that same year, channel four is around 2012 time, channel four, we’re in charge of the coverage of the Paralympic Games and it went crazy, huge Paralympic Games that year. Some incredible stats, I mean, like the beginning of the summer awareness of what the Paralympics was, was 16%. Generally, by the end of the summer, 77% huge. And of course, we have the you know, the BBC is blue planet presented by David Attenborough. It created what was dubbed the blue planet effect. So even the Queen apparently watched the late Queen God bless her. She apparently she still wish you watch this episode, and she banned single use plastic across royal estates, the UK government pledged over 60 million pounds to fight plastic pollution. It really can have an impact watching, you know, having these incredible shows on TV. And that’s why the BBC and just because work is so important. The media pop culture, it does impact social change for education through representation. And of course, normalization, it plays a crucial part in building ally ship,

Al Elliott 19:00
I think we can all think of lots of different TVs and films that were sparks of a conversation that brought people around together around a set of shared values, for honor explains that this is actually the first step of starting a movement for change.

Speaker 6 19:14
So where do we start in this example, in this scenario, we started from nothing. We started with an organization’s values, and those values were strong. And in order to strive for those values, one of the ways we came together was naturally a group of people not not knowing it was going to be belonging, diversity, equity, inclusion, but actually coming together, naturally connecting, and that fantastic example started to grow.

Al Elliott 19:45
One of the concerns that I’ve got being a straight privileged, white middle class male, is that I’m going to mess this up. I’m going to say something I shouldn’t say with the right meaning and the right sort of thought behind it. So actually what happens if I make a mistake? What if us as business leaders, we’re doing our best, but we say the wrong thing? What do we do?

Speaker 1 20:07
Yeah, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes, like, it’s fine to make mistakes. If, for example, if I got someone’s pronouns wrong, you kind of correct yourself and move on. It’s about learning from your mistakes and showing that you’re taking on board when you’ve been corrected, even as small as follow different people on social media. Because you’ll pick up language and like kind of phrases and what to say what not to say. Like, the big thing, at the moment is the debate on the word queer, for example, people of older generation still remember the 80s and the 90s, when that’s a drug derogative term. Whereas if you talk to the grads now coming through, they’re claiming it back. And they’re owning that, and it’s a positive word, but you stick even in the community, there is still this debate and uncomfortableness about using the word. And that’s fine. But it’s about if you’re using it yourself, or worse, so I personally, don’t use it. Because I don’t know if I’m going to offend someone or not. But that’s not to say that if someone said it to me about themselves, that I would take any offense, and some people will go yes, of course, like I’m proud to be queer. Or some people might go actually No, and that’s fine. And then you go, Okay, how do you want me to describe you if if that is needed? Or what would you prefer? If I just use the umbrella term of LGBTQ plus or rainbow pride like that? That’s obviously a wonderful words to use. But Never be afraid to ask because it’s the same with pronouns don’t make assumptions as well just ask, and then you all know where you stand and move on.

Leanne Elliott 21:48
I honestly think that ally ship is going to be something we hear more and more about over the next 12 months. And what it actually really means to be an ally, you know, it’s not posting a black square on your Instagram on you know, for black lives matter. That’s not that’s not an ally make. It’s it’s, you know, it’s it’s, it’s not a noun, it’s a it’s a verb.

Al Elliott 22:07
Yeah. So in 2024, you’re gonna hear that word a lot. And now hopefully, you’ve got an overview of what it is. If you want to do more, which I hope you do, then dive more into, we’ll just Google it, you’ll find more stuff on there, but also maybe contact some of the guests or their links in the show notes. I know they’d be I know, she can’t, she can’t share everything she does at the Bank of England, because obviously, some of it is private. But she certainly said she was very open to talking to anyone about how they can become a great ally.

Leanne Elliott 22:33
So that is a large ship. The second area trend that we’re seeing is belonging. And that’s what we will be exploring next. As a leader, you might have heard probably heard of d psi. But more recently, there has been an extension to d e IB. What does the B stand for? It stands for belonging.

Al Elliott 22:53
When I was speaking to Farhana, I said kind of tongue in cheek, I said, I’ll come on. Is this just another word that we need to learn to allocate those snowflakes? Is it just a tick tock thing? Is it gonna disappear in six months? Is it really a thing?

Speaker 6 23:07
It is a thing, we evolve over time. And over time, you know, we need to re imagine certain things right, reimagined and give new lease of life to to our work to our goals to ambitions, right? And so, belonging has always been there. But I truly believe it’s it’s a word that started to come in to really re energize and really bring back focus on what it is we do and why we do it. And actually, it’s the first thing before diversity before equity before all of the words that you’ve just said. Because without me feeling like I belong in a conversation with you. You won’t get me in the door.

Leanne Elliott 23:49
I was reading that transcript of your interview for Hannah and I did I die? We’re kind of laughing. I was like, oh, gosh, I hope she I hope she knew the tone that that question came. It did make me laugh. like snowflakes isn’t just for the snowflakes. Yeah, belonging, feeling accepted by a group. That is the definition and it has been around for a while. I think Aristotle actually talked about belonging so it was quite some time ago. It’s hard. Belonging had a place in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. There are two psychologists called Baumeister and Leary. They really considered the pioneers of belonging research and they found that not that failing to satisfy the need to belong can cause some really serious consequences some really serious mental health consequences and belonging even forms part of our culture muddle the RX seven, oblong. So all in all academics and practitioners agree that belonging is a fundamental human motivation. I’m sure there must be applications for this in marketing maybe it has a different name.

Al Elliott 24:54
Belonging is such a deep psychological need to belong to something that that’s why in marketing In a lot of other products or services try and create community around the most famous one is PC versus Mac. If you have a Mac, if you sit in a coffee shop, like one of those knob Ed’s, and your your Mac, and it displays, it illuminates the apple at the back, the reason you’re doing that, and you’re not doing it with a shitty Dell sarili and your shitty Dell, but the reason you’re doing that is because you belong to the Apple crew, you know that opening that up, if you have this product, you will belong. So we know in marketing terms that belonging sells shifts product, but also there’s huge benefits for the individual in the business. When you talk about belonging as part of a culture, here’s Ferghana.

Speaker 6 25:39
So there are many, many benefits for me to call out a few. So you have great employee retention, the number of people leaving your organization significantly decreases, employee satisfaction has gone from an example of give you 5.7 to 9.7 out of 10. Now when you get happier employees, what do you get, you get greater productivity, you get greater outcomes, and you get phenomenal creativity going on. And then let’s go beyond that. Well, you then start to become its linchpin Is that is that bar that everyone else is looking towards? So we start to set the standards,

Leanne Elliott 26:22
we do have to talk about the serious side of belonging, not having belonging has been shown to cause major distress feeling like we don’t belong, has a damaging impact on our mental health, on our self esteem, even our own sense of who we are our identity. To explain more. Here’s for Hannah,

Speaker 6 26:41
but what is most disheartening is when we get things wrong as an organization, workplace harassment, bullying, discrimination, it happens. Now, we can’t shy away from it. It ruins people’s lives. And it ruins people’s lives to the point that they will never recover. But what we’re talking about here is still real stories that are out there, that is driving people to suicide, that is making them unemployable, ruins their careers. So this isn’t no longer about wanting to come into work, to feel good, to feel like I belong, and to feel like I’m included. It’s more than that. It’s about survival.

Al Elliott 27:22
Obviously, these are very extreme consequences of not belonging or getting belonging wrong. But there are lots of other adverse impacts our lack of belonging can have on our business and our culture.

Speaker 6 27:34
If I don’t get it, right, that it comes across as as fake, but let’s just imagine in that workplace, we believe is belonging. But when we enter that workplace, and we let some of those guards down those those layers that I talked about, it’s almost like a slap in the face. And it’s a realization of either, I’m stuck here. And I say this from an employee perspective, because I see this and hear this day in day out. And actually, there is no belonging, it’s just words, or I’ve got to get myself out quick. And so I think the the implications of when belonging really doesn’t exist, or really, belonging is not really understood. It can be catastrophic.

Al Elliott 28:16
So this leads us on to the third emerging topic in D AI, which is d AI washing, we’ve talked about wellness washing, we’ve talked about green washing, I think you can probably have a good guess what dei washing is,

Leanne Elliott 28:30
I mean, you do do washing, like wellness, washing, like green washing is a result of Tolkien efforts, it’s ticking boxes without any intention or any authenticity. So you know, do washing can be things like dei training, anti racism, training, introducing quotas, without any kind of real intent about what that diversity is going to look like in the workforce. It’s ticking boxes without any meaningful change to the organization or to organizational behavior. And the cure for di washing is simple. Authenticity. Here’s Jess,

Speaker 5 29:01
we have seen through that is that then you bring in that authenticity, and that culture as well. Because, you know, it’s not enough just to have that representation on screen. I think the writers that are writing their stories, it’s so important, they have those lived, that lived experience, the people that directing that producing those stories, understand and that’s no kind of, I guess it it reduces that sense of kind of othering as well. And so that authenticity is then through in and throughout the content. So then in terms of culture, you’re creating an environment where people can, you know, voice alternative opinions and share different thoughts and that to be welcomed, but also ultimately, the content that we’re serving to audiences is is that much better. And, you know, we aim to be best in class for that. And I think the audience can tell whether when it’s taken monistic representation compared to that really authentic representation, and there’s some really nice examples to share. And actually staying on that theme of, of children’s content, we had a drama, which we’ve just announced the second series of a kind of spark, and that, you know, sort of text in earlier this year. And we had neurodivergent actors neurodivergent, writer, and neurodivergent, the production leadership as well, which meant that that authenticity in the story came across so beautifully. And then we saw the audience response, which was really powerful, where people were writing on social media about the impact that this show had on them, but not just children, adults as well. And many stories of people were getting a diagnosis of autism for the first time, which you know, is life changing, really. So that’s just one example of many where we’ve seen that this way of looking at our content, not just what’s the audience can see, but also what’s behind the camera is so so important to that providing that authenticity

Leanne Elliott 31:06
just went on to explain how the BBC user diversity targets, and authenticity, to drive meaningful and lasting change.

Speaker 5 31:14
I think data is really important in D and AI, initiatives, I think, whilst it doesn’t always give the full picture of what’s going on, I think it’s a really, really important tool to have to understand and give you insight into an organization. So at the BBC, we have specific targets and other workforce data. We have targets around gender 50%, targets around ethnicity, 20%, disability, 12%, and also socio economic diversity 25%. And we look at these with a lot of rigor. We monitor these, we publish this data in our annual report. And we don’t just look at all staff, we also look at the data, specifically leadership roles as well, influential roles, because I think that’s really important as well to have in any organization, regardless of size to make sure that that diversity is there in those leadership roles as well. And so that’s one aspect of data. That’s, that’s really important in the work that I do, and across the BBC, but but also, I think what’s important is looking at the diversity of the people that we work with our suppliers. So for us at the BBC, that’s independent production companies. So we have some commitments around the leadership of the production teams that we work with and also the companies and whether they’re led by a representative and diverse and sort of individuals.

Al Elliott 32:51
If you have been on Tik Tok recently, you’ll know that Gen Zed sorry.

Leanne Elliott 32:54
Have you been on Tik Tok? Recently,

Al Elliott 32:57
I have not been on. Tik Tok is not for me. It’s funny. I hope they don’t. But I spent about an hour on it. I was like, I know this isn’t for me. And you get to a certain point in your life. You just go. This isn’t for me. And I’m fine with that. I’m absolutely fine. But anyway, my point is Gen Zed are all over this idea. And also, let’s be honest, because you know, I’m not quite Boomer. I’m Gen X. But still, I’m a bit like, oh, I don’t understand these young generation. Now hang on a minute, youth culture has this history of pushing for social change. You think about the baby boomers back in like the 60s. Then you got the hippies. And then you know us in the 90s, we had all the lad culture, I’m saying life coach, because it was called like culture in the UK, you know, and then and music and everything. The whole point of this is that that the youth drive social change, which is one of the reasons why cobia decided to move from corporate into higher education. She saw that education is the key to addressing inequities in society. And equity

Speaker 4 33:57
in society is very important. And education has got to be one of the fundamental building blocks, not just in this country, but globally. If we are thinking about equity, and social justice for people, wherever they are. So I thought the education piece is really critical here to really moving the dial on the inequities that we see in employment, you know, who gets to the top, who gets to work where you know, who even gets to go to university, all of those things,

Al Elliott 34:30
trigger alert for cobia. Because I asked her a very, very difficult question. I said, the whole point of higher education is to exclude the majority of people who don’t get the grades. So that’s the whole point, Oxford, Cambridge, you have to get a certain number of grit a certain level of grades to get there. But then a university wants to be inclusive. So how is a university going to reconcile these two ideas? I think

Speaker 4 34:53
that’s a really kind of interesting dilemma actually. And I think that I believe Most people actually have great capability and great potential actually. And that’s what we miss out on. Because we don’t all have the same starting place, do we we don’t, we only have to look at where the state of education is, in this country, unless you go to a private school, or a school, which is very well equipped, and resourced and has great teachers, you’re kind of at a disadvantage even before you get to university. So I don’t think it’s down to universities to be able to, it’s not really within their capability or capacity to be able to level out all of those things. So I think as a society, we need to be thinking about our education system. And actually, are we giving people a kind of a level playing field, or are we giving young people a level playing field, to have that opportunity to apply to universities where they want to go and actually study. Now the work that we do at Warwick, in terms of widening participation, is about addressing some of those issues. And we’re trying to do as much as we possibly can through our widening participation strategy. And I’ll just give you some examples of a program that was set up in partnership with another organization that works with young people helping to get them into university. So we actually set up with them in partnership, and doing running lessons after school kind of classes for young kids from the age of 11, upwards up to a level, and just kind of supporting providing additional resource, additional teaching sessions, to help them get into university that may not perhaps be coming from schools that they’re actually already going to, we also look at the circumstances that people are applying to the University. So we try and make contextual offers, taking into account their background, that they may not have all the same advantages as some other students. So we are trying to adjust that level playing field as much as we possibly can. But it is a much bigger societal issue.

Leanne Elliott 37:07
I think cobia explained this really brilliantly, I think it’s more about access to opportunity. And that’s what plays a vital role in in social change. And you know, as a business, you can play a role in this too, in terms of broadening your talent pool. We talked so much about that, didn’t we on a day one or one episode? Suddenly, Thompson particularly gave some really great advice on there. And Catherine dwell in terms of how you can broaden your talent pool without falling into the trap of positive discrimination. So if you want to learn more about that, go back to Episode 45. So while authenticity is the cure for do washing, data lead practice is the prevention. Which leads us nicely to our fourth topic today. Here’s cobia. To explain more.

Speaker 4 37:49
Well, I think sometimes people talk about diversity, or they hear that word diversity, and they hear inclusion. And they think it’s about doing soft, fluffy things. And soft, fluffy things are lovely to do. But actually, it’s not what always kind of really changes the culture. Talking about inclusion in a strategic sense is planning for it, if we really want to see things change, and this is about how we do things, and the how is about our behaviors. But it’s also about the systems and the processes that we set up in organizations, whether that’s our policies, our procedures, our data, what data we collect, where we collect it, even how we signpost, something, or how simple implications for how people interact with it. And for me, it’s about thinking, how do we plan that into our business planning, how we approach what we’re actually delivering. So in the case of the university, it will be about how do we teach our students what’s the methodology we use, our students aren’t the same, they have different learning needs. And then the wraparound that is our employees. So our staff, because they are the ones who make it happen in conjunction with our students, they are the ones who have that knowledge, the expertise that they’re sharing, but also co creating with our students. And if you think about universities, there are researchers, they’re incredibly clever people, amazing things happen on university campuses. And that’s a big operation. So you have to plan it. I mean, if you’re a business, you don’t just kind of approach it by doing haphazardly, we’ll just do this and we’ll do that. You think about it, you plan it, what are you trying to achieve? And how are you going to do it? And how do you know it’s the right thing to do? How are you going to measure it? What does success look like? To me? being strategic about inclusion is about doing all of those things, approach it like you would anything else in a business or a big institution.

Al Elliott 39:54
I joke that Leanne’s favorite word is data. But if you are in marketing, if you’re in sales, if You’re in finance data is key data helps you make decisions. And we recorded loads and loads of data. In fact, there’s probably some big companies out there who are in trouble for recording too much data, but record loads and loads of data in these other functions. So why are we not really doing it with people, what gets measured, gets monitored, here’s Jess from the BBC,

Speaker 5 40:19
having, you know, sort of very clearly mapped out our workforce diversity targets. And, and I think, you know, being accountable to those as well has, has been really, really important in terms of, of driving representation. And so, in this year’s report, we saw that we met our gender target for the first time, that’s 50%, which, which is fantastic. And that’s, that’s, you know, a change that we’re really proud of, and even intensive ethnicity representation, we still have some work to do, we’re looking at a target 20%, we are at 17%. And then a big area of focus for us recently has been around disability representation. And there’s been an acknowledgement that there needs to be more representation of disability in the industry. And we have made some some really big commitments around that. So working with other broadcasters, and there’s a TV Access Project, we have BBC Elevate, specifically looking at mid level, disabled talent. And and, you know, we in terms of our workforce disability numbers, we’re at 9.4. on disability representation, our target is 12. But also talking about kind of off screen as well, we’ve actually seen that number increase over recent years, to 8.8, point nine, in 2020, to 2023. So I guess what we’re looking at is it again, comes back to the data question, doesn’t it like we’re using our data to really track progress and also make ourselves accountable? Obviously, that’s one part of it. That’s the quantitative data, the qualitative data is really, really important as well. And I think you need to have both. So you have to understand what’s going on in an organization. And so we regularly get that qualitative data as well, whether it’s through staff surveys, and, and getting feedback from our colleagues as well, which is, which is really important.

Al Elliott 42:25
Now, of course, we can’t just collect data and say, we’ve collected data, because that’s dei washing, we’re not just isn’t just a tick box exercise. The whole point of this is to use the data to affect change. Here’s just again,

Speaker 5 42:39
I think we need the data, because you can’t you can’t change, you can’t change what you’re not measuring. And, you know, it’s it’s, it’s, it’s tricky to measure how people feel. And you know, sort of, I guess, but what we are using the data is looking at I joiners rates, looking at our levers rates, but also being really specific as well. So I think it’s very easy. And I’ve seen this in other organizations where sometimes people feel like diversity and inclusion is doing good. A colleague once referred to like these random acts of diversity and inclusion, sort of, and so people just feel like, oh, yeah, we’ll we’ll do a DNI initiative. But I think what we’re doing here with the data is to actually look at, okay, where are where are the interventions required? What the initiatives meteorites, actually using the data to identify whether representation isn’t where it wants we want it to be, and then combining that with looking at like, you know, how people feel in the workplace, how inclusively we run our meetings. What’s the experience that people are having? Are people happier at work, and that part of things. But I think the data is still really important, and to use it in a way that informs future initiatives. I think it’s really important otherwise, you can’t just take this blanket approach and and feel good for doing a DNI initiative. I think that’s what we’re what we should be trying to do.

Leanne Elliott 44:09
I think about data is it can be quantitative. I think that’s what we think about when we think about data, we think about the numbers. But data can also be qualitative. It’s about the feedback. Shelly, who is LGBTQ plus co chair at the Bank of England shared an example of how they are using qualitative data to make organizational policies more inclusive.

Speaker 1 44:30
So the first one that comes to my mind is ways of working like coming out of the pandemic. So I was on that project as one of the project leads and we went out to all the network so we’re trying to understand why do you work from home and obviously there is the cost of living as well and so you can be more inclusive to those that can afford to live down in London and Essex, UK. So we have people that live in Newcastle, Birmingham, Glasgow. etc. And they only come down a couple of times a month, I remember someone going, I really want to work from home, because I can wear my hair naturally. And I was like, wow. And that just really struck me. It was someone that identified for the person that color and they will I can actually wear my hair in an afro and natural and how is my culture. And I was just like, as a white female myself, I don’t have like I’ve never considered that we all have bad hair is but like, and it was just that is important to that individual. And the fact that they never felt comfortable on wearing their hair like that in the office really blew me away. And that was like, okay, so because the more of ourselves we can bring to work, the better we do, don’t worry, because we’re not putting on a show. We’re not feel like we’re hiding something. I heard something really good yesterday, at an event, internal to the bank, and someone was like, it’s important what you wear on your feet. So if I’m wearing heels and like stiletto heels, and my feet are hurting, and it’s already 10 o’clock, like I’m like I got the hole down here. It’s taking away, me being comfortable me being myself, maybe in the best thing I could be at work in my special spell specialities. Because I’m concentrating, I’ve got a bit of my head going my feet. Whereas if I was just in trainers, and comfortable, I wouldn’t ever be thinking that and then I’ve got 100% focus on what I need to do what I need to deliver. If people aren’t bringing their full self to work, you’re always hiding, you’re always so if someone’s not out. You’re constantly watching what you’re saying. So when someone goes, Oh, how was your How was your wife? Well, they’ve made that assumption that that you have a wife and not a partner. And so do you come up with a charade? you correct them? And that goes through someone’s head as a simple question. Whereas you just went, what did you do at the weekend, or how’s your partner, I can just like, I can be myself a little bit more

Al Elliott 47:02
regular listeners will know that while the unlikes the word data, I like the word ROI, or technically, that’s three words, but I want to know, this is cool. And I want to be the best business owner leader in the world. I know I do. But I’ve got to make sure that I’m getting some kind of return on this investment. Because let’s be honest, we’re not going to do it, if it’s gonna cost us 1000s. We don’t see anything back. But I think it’s a little bit of a, I don’t know, I feel a bit icky. Bringing up this idea of ROI, when it’s clearly the right thing to do. So I asked for HANA. Can I ask about the business case? Can I ask about the ROI,

Speaker 6 47:38
we’ve always got to be thinking about ROI. So So cut for an answer is from our right out the window. And unfortunately, those business cases, those ROI proposals, we still need them, because businesses still need to survive, but businesses can survive and go further with dei at the core of that at the center of that. So absolutely those business cases those return on investment assessments are absolutely needed. I think it comes back

Leanne Elliott 48:03
to the fact that the two things can coexist. You know, it’s not mutually exclusive thing we can have, you know, di led organizations and make money, we can embed wellbeing and make money. It’s not one or the other. And I think this is a really outdated mindset from I don’t know when maybe even back to like the 20s and 30s, when we thought you know that that kind of getting the absolute most out of people until they fell over was the only way to have a successful business. And I think

Al Elliott 48:33
this leads us nicely on to the culture lead di which is the fifth point we’re trying to make here. This means that in order for us to take di seriously it has to actually become part of the culture. We know that culture evolves, it changes it matures. And as leaders, we don’t have to get it right from day one. Let’s be honest, in your business, have you got ever got anything right from day one? Probably not. And even if we do get it right, things will change. We’ve talked a bit about tick tock, but five years ago, people weren’t talking about this kind of thing openly. And now they are the Gen the new generations are coming in. We’ve got Gen Alpha coming in, in about 15 years time into the workplace, we have no idea. They have no idea what that was gonna be important to them, we’ve got no idea what’s important. And so we have to be adaptable. We have to ensure that whatever we’re building is built into the culture is part of the DNA of the culture. Now you might think this is just a corporate issue, because we’ve talked a huge organizations like Bank of England, with the University of Warwick, we’ve got BBC in here, but as Kobe and explains, it’s not about these huge organizations, it’s about you and your business.

Speaker 4 49:36
Do you notice quite often people will ask me, What’s the difference? It must be so different coming from the corporate sector or the public sector and coming to work in a university. And I kind of think about that, and I think, actually, you’re not that different, you know, people a pupil, fundamentally, we’re talking about behavior changes. We’re talking about how do we view people? How do we treat them, how do we get the best out of them. And those are exactly the same things that people want to do in a university in school in KPMG, in a big corporate, or you know, in a media industry, we want to get the best out of people want to use our resources well, and in a university you want our students to do well, we want our researchers, our professors, to do the well to be innovative and to be creative. That’s what it’s about. And actually, those things aren’t that different. We’re talking about human behaviors, how do we view each other? How do we treat each other? Do we understand each other? Do we understand how we interact with different people and what we need to do differently? For different people, I don’t think it’s that different.

Leanne Elliott 50:44
It really is about that continuous learning. And I think it’s also important to remember that this isn’t meant to be a comfortable, process change is uncomfortable. As humans, we don’t like it. I never quite trust the people who say they’re like, change. And I’m like, do you like change? Do you just like change that you can control, which by its nature is not really change, change triggers our fight and flight response, it makes us stressed. But as Kobe explained, being challenged as a leader, is part of the process.

Speaker 4 51:14
So for me, it is about understanding those differences. And how do we bring that together in a workplace, because difference can also bring conflict, we don’t understand someone we don’t understand something, it can take us out of our own comfort zone. So that challenge is actually so. So diversity and inclusion is a challenge. And it’s something you have to practice and learn. It doesn’t necessarily just come naturally to you by osmosis. I mean, some people may be lucky, and it does. And we’re much more open to some things about people than we are about others. Some things about people are a challenge to us. And I think that’s where we have to have the opportunity to question why that is. And actually, is it appropriate? And actually, what can we do differently, where we don’t feel so challenged by that, but actually, we can be welcoming about that and be curious about it, and understand what that means for that other person. So I think there is a challenge here for people. So it’s not always soft and fluffy and nice. And it means you have to work at it.

Al Elliott 52:19
Shelly is from the Bank of England, I can’t think of many organizations that are as old as perhaps a stayed as, as

Leanne Elliott 52:29
well. Can you describe the bag big? Sorry? Do you know anything about anything about the banking, I think about Mary Poppins, you know, at the end, where they go into the Yeah, exactly.

Al Elliott 52:38
It feels like an old institution. As she points out, if the Bank of England can change, then you can change. It just requires intention,

Speaker 1 52:47
oh, we are very diverse. So yeah, it’s obviously you’ve got the old and I even when I was joining 12 years ago, I was very like, oh, it’s going to be white males in suits, I’m going to be the only female, it’s very much not like that. And we’re getting better and better. I’m not saying whether we’d like your seen our annual reports, or targets and where we are. But the fact that the employee networks exist, and we have 13 of them in the bank, it really is making a difference. And you can sit like I remember, there used to be only one dei advisor at the bank, when I first started and they weren’t taken seriously, it was very much like we have this because we have to now we’ve got it. I think it’s a 15 team strong in HR, let alone the DEI advisors that sit in each of the business areas as well. So we’re very much taking it seriously. It’s very important, like, you would have seen the court review that we published on ethnicity back in 2020. Like so there is important work happening in the bank on Dei, and we’re very much is one of our strategic priorities as well. We can’t make the decisions for the economy, for financial stability for monetary analysis without having the diverse people in the bank. Because we are the Bank of United Kingdom, therefore we need to represent the people of United Kingdom. So we have people that work up down the country, different ethnicity, sexuality, gender, age, etc, etc. So we definitely need to represent what why we don’t talk when we talk and do the speeches and all our wonderful subjects. Were not representative and we weren’t take on board other people’s opinions if we don’t

Leanne Elliott 54:35
surely stress that any change, including those related to di need to align with the wider mission and vision of the organization. And I think this is really the key for SMEs for any business is to create psychological safety, because that’s what people need to share their ideas and concerns in the first place. If those ideas can work great, but the point is start with say Electrical Safety has shellye

Speaker 1 55:02
Like, no one’s perfect, and we haven’t, we’re not successful with DNI or the employee networks, without trial and error and try and trying out things, listening to people, it might not always work out, or there’s compromise as well. So it might be that one network may want to make some positive change. But we need to think of the wider mission and vision of that organization and will it disrupt it, or does it, empower it and celebrate it, there needs to be, unfortunately, a balance there. But that’s not to say that they shouldn’t be listened to because everyone needs to compromise as well. But just you don’t have to be perfect. As long as someone has a safe space and can have a voice you’re winning,

Leanne Elliott 55:49
Shelly also shared some critical advice for business leaders that are looking to embed di into their culture, or any intervention for that matter. Carve out time, if it’s important to you, if it’s important to your business, and it’s important to your culture, make time for di

Speaker 1 56:09
zing, with the employee networks, coaches, anyone part of the network, you do it on top of your day job. So I as a co chair, obviously, I have a lot of responsibility, we’ve got three 400 People in our network, let alone the people that are watching our network, right, that’s me and two others that are co chair, so it’s good, even balanced. So we can pick and help support each other. But we’re doing it on top of our day jobs. We like so I’ve got a busy role in HR. And then I’m trying to balance that to give time and commitment to which I feel very strongly on to the network. And then it’s time balancing. So don’t have to log on a weekend. No, because work life balance, I need to set the right message, but also need to get things done. But also, I’m not gonna give that up because that’s important. And it the fine balance of that is the main challenge, I would say what was really good. And what I would a bit of advice I would give to any organization is look at what you’re recognizing in your organization. So as a performance manager, one of the key changes I made this year was in your objectives. If you are a culture, you can have half a day, a week dedicated to being that co chair. And then objectives obviously has to be signed off by your line manager. So it’s like a contract between you and your line manager, I’m going to be spending about half a day a week, being a co chair, that’s you committing and giving me time, as well as I’m holding myself account, and seven came to juice in January. And it’s really helped with the time balance, there is

Al Elliott 57:47
no silver bullet, which is good news and bad news. The bad news is you can’t just go and say right here, implement these six things. And then we’re done. That is di washing. But the good news is you don’t have to get it right from the start. For example, if you start off and say, right, I’m gonna create an erg group for women in our organization, that’s a really good start. And then you can go into the know and say, right, we’re going to create an erg, for women of color. I don’t think anyone expects you to get this right straightaway.

Leanne Elliott 58:13
Well, that said, let’s hear more from cobia on the nuances of diversity, and what you can do as a business leader, as your approach as your practice matures, I don’t

Speaker 4 58:24
think we’re trying to mesh people together in that we’re trying to make them all the same. And they’ve all got to kind of do the same things together. I think it’s about understanding that people are different. And actually, our differences are what make us quite unique. And so what you do for, you know, a white straight woman, for example, may not be what the same that you’d need to do for a woman who’s white and gay, or who’s of Indian origin, like I am myself or you know, somebody who’s had a very different kind of experience, that all those things are going to be different. You can’t put women into the same bucket and say, we need to do the same thing for everybody. It’s about understanding what those nuances are. And actually what makes the difference to somebody being really happy where they are, we know that when we’re happy, we’re much better at what we do, we’re much better at actually engaging with other people. Whereas when we’re pretty unhappy, I mean, we can only just think of it in ourselves, if we wake up in a grumpy mood. We’re not really that great. We’re not really that productive. And we’re not really that nice to other people get the best out of the

Al Elliott 59:31
well. I hope that we’ve covered everything you wanted us to cover. If we haven’t let us know we’re on LinkedIn. You’ve got all our contact details in the show notes. We’d love to answer your questions. Let’s just quickly recap at the five areas that we talked about today. The first one was ally ship. The second one was belonging. Then we went into dei washing just be careful you don’t fall down that road. And then we went into data IDI. And finally we talked about culture lead di that’s ingraining it in your culture.

Leanne Elliott 59:57
Yeah, really interesting indeed. This episode I think interesting areas of, of d i be the roof now learn that are deepening that are advancing and evolving. And I think a really nice follow up to our first episode EDI 101. So yeah, thank you. Huge thank you to all of our guests and helped put this together to Shelly O’Connor from the Bank of England.

Al Elliott 1:00:21
Thank you to call this circle from the University of Warwick to Jessica Shibley

Leanne Elliott 1:00:25
from the BBC. And finally to Phoronix Buddhists. Next week we are bringing you a masterclass in workplace culture and well being with leaders from quite simply some of the biggest and most successful organizations in the world including Moz L’Oreal and the NHS. We will see you then. Bye bye

Al Elliott 1:00:43
for now.

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