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Politicians and CEOs join forces to push diversity agenda in the UK

A special event at Yahoo’s offices in London saw politicians including Yasmin Qureshi MP highlight the role that Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging and Equity (DIBE) can play in commercial success

CEO and leaders from 27 businesses including KPMG, Britvic and IPSOS were also in attendance to offer insight and commit to ‘Move the Dial on Diversity’ in their own companies.

Leading politicians came together with some of the UK’s most high-profile CEOs for a special event focused on improving diversity in the workplace.

The event took place and was streamed live from Yahoo’s RYOT Studios facility in central London, with Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi, Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, attending to discuss the role government can play in driving better Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging and Equity (DIBE) in UK businesses.

It was hosted by DIAL Global, a company that helps businesses unlock the commercial value that can come from more diverse and inclusive workforces. Research suggests companies that fully embrace DIBE can increase profitability by as much as 35%.

Leaders from companies including KPMG, Britvic, IPSOS, Yahoo!, Sanofi, Teneo and the Open University were also in attendance to commit their support to the drive, which has been badged as the ‘CEO Activist’ campaign.

The Co-operative Group, M&S and PageGroup are just a few of the other high profile companies that have also backed the movement and pledged to ‘Move the DIAL on Diversity’.

The first panel, chaired by Josh Partridge, UK MD of Yahoo), explored why some businesses are lagging behind or even not on board with the move to improve DIBE in their organisations despite the evidence of it being a lever for commercial growth.

The second panel was Chaired by Leila McKenzie Delis, Founder & CEO of DIAL Global, and delved deeper into how government ministers and businesses can work more closely together to deliver improvements across all areas of DIBE.

Leila McKenzie-Delis, said:

“Some of the biggest and most influential names in UK politics and business were in attendance at this event, which underlines the shared commitment we have to putting DIBE at the heart of the UK economy.

“The CEOs we have supporting us stand ready to help political leaders because they care about making UK business the most diverse and inclusive in the world. Research has proved that this can be a key lever for commercial success, so it’s time to truly unlock the potential a diverse workforce can bring.

“This cross-sector experience, expertise and insight are incredibly valuable to those developing public policy, and securing the economic benefits of diversity and inclusion is now more important than ever.

“My team and I are passionate about accelerating the journey to inclusive workplaces and this is even faster when business leaders are on board to use their influence and drive the change from the top down.”

The CEO Activist campaign encourages businesses to focus on four key areas. These are ensuring workplaces are inclusive with clear steps to ensure current and future leadership team diversity; a commitment to measure progress annually against 10 areas of diversity and inclusion; a promise to implement strategic diversity plans with clear accountability for CEOs and their leadership teams; and a commitment for each CEO to share their learnings and plans for the future.

Speaking at the event, Yasmin Qureshi, Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, said:

“Diversity and inclusivity is important because, in the world that we have now where companies aren’t just based in one country but right across the world, they need a diverse workforce to understand the cultural issues, logistical issues and work issues in those different countries.

“Civil Service departments often engage with business communities and different interest groups, and it’s important for business communities to respond to those calls for evidence.

There’s a lot that companies can do to input into government activities and business activities.

“I understand that a lot of businesses don’t like regulation, but sometimes government laws and rules can be helpful and encourage businesses to hopefully adapt their systems, for example declaring the gender pay gap.”

Ben Page, Global CEO at market research company IPSOS, also attended the event and has signed up to the pledge. He said:

“Diversity matters not because it’s nice; diversity matters because if you want better business results, you’ve got to have it. And it’s the right thing to do.

“IPSOS research of 5,000 businesses in the UK in 2022 found that, in companies where people felt there were plenty of opportunities for those from diverse backgrounds to get on, people were 2.5 times more likely to say that they were empowered to seek innovative solutions. On top of that, they were twice as likely to say that they would try new things; nearly four times more likely to speak up and recommend their employer as a place to work, and four times more likely to feel motivated by their organisation to do the very best job they can.

“This type of research speaks for itself and is more evidence of how companies that encourage people from diverse backgrounds perform better compared to those that don’t.”

The CEO Activists event comes ahead of the release of the third annual DIAL Global Diversity Review later this year, which provides a comprehensive review of workplace diversity and inclusion in UK (and US) businesses. This is due to publish in summer 2023.

The review is the first of its kind to take a holistic approach to diversity and inclusion by providing a comprehensive review of how employers are addressing and prioritising their efforts across 10 facets of workplace diversity and inclusion.

These are: Race & Ethnicity, Gender, Age & Generation, Nationality, Mental Health & Wellness, Sexual Orientation, Socioeconomic Status, Disability & Neurodiversity, Religion or Belief, and Parenthood & Caring.

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