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The language of diversity

EY is already some way down the path of cultural inclusiveness that encourages and supports diversity of thought. Sally Bucknell, Head of Diversity & Inclusiveness at EY UK & Ireland, says part of that journey has been a change in the language used around diversity.

Hays-Journal_Diversity of thought

“We have moved away from talking about diversity in terms of strands, such as gender and ethnicity, and more towards celebrating and embracing difference,” she says. “We’ve also departed from development programmes around specific groups, to creating a culture that helps our people to accept and embrace diversity of thought.”

“Diversity of thought is about changing the majority, not targeting the minority."

 This has been translated into action via the firm’s Inclusive Leadership programme. Starting two years ago with the Partners, the training has cascaded down to the rest of the business to managers and those with responsibilities for teams. 

EY is also gathering feedback on how the programme has affected its people and what they are doing differently. Some of the changes are small and quite subtle. For example, managers are asked to think about the way in which they interact with their teams, and in some cases alter the style of their interactions to match the preferences of different employees. As a result, some report that their previously very quiet teams are now much more vocal. The firm also carries out an annual people survey and one of the questions asked is: “Are you able to bring challenges to your boss?”

“We’ve had an increase in engagement score of five per cent to 75 per cent, which is really high for a sector like ours, “ says Bucknell. “Diversity of thought is about changing the majority, not targeting the minority. The challenge is to make this a commercial imperative. This is no longer an HR issue.  If you want to be a global player and engage global talent, the driver for creating a more inclusive culture is the fact that if you don’t change, you’ll be left behind.”

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