Blog: We all have a responsibility to be inclusive in the workplace
28 September 2020
Blog by David Rule, FRC's Executive Director of Supervision
COVID-19 and social distancing give National Inclusion Week a particular resonance this year. How can we make everyone feel included when we are physically more distant? The good news is that the response to the crisis in the FRC and elsewhere was for people to reach out to each other more. I have seen many acts of kindness and humanity. As we move towards winter, we need to increase our efforts to keep that up.
National Inclusion Week is about inclusion in all its meanings. Everyone should be able to participate equally and confidently in our work. Everyone should be treated fairly. Everyone should feel that they can bring their whole self to work.
An inclusive environment is essential to allow us all to achieve our full potential. We cannot succeed if we do not feel fully welcome, or are disempowered, in our place of work. Since my arrival at the FRC, I have been impressed by the commitment placed on valuing our differences and the recognition that we are enhanced by our colleagues’ different backgrounds, experiences, beliefs and cultures.
We have done good work. Our Diversity and Inclusion Committee includes the chairs of our social mobility, LGBTQIA+ and minority ethnic working groups, and our CEO, Sir Jon Thompson – who is also ExCo’s champion on race. It is currently developing our Diversity and Inclusion strategy and will shortly be consulting with our people on it. We have signed the Business in the Community Race at Work Charter, and HM Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter. We are a Department for Work and Pensions Disability Confident Level 2 accredited Employer. In the past year, we took part in the Social Mobility Index for the first time and chose to participate in the Gender Pay Gap reporting exercise. Our work experience scheme, run remotely this year, was able to accommodate students from around the country who might otherwise have struggled with coming to London. We have adopted a Diverse Events Policy that we will only host events where the speakers are diverse, and we seek diversity at external events at which we speak.
Personally, I was delighted to chair a Women Returners event earlier this year, seeking to recruit people with an audit background who have taken time out of paid employment for our audit quality review team. I look forward to hosting an event that our LGBTQIA+ network are arranging with Opening Doors London to talk about the work that they do in supporting older people from the LGBTQIA+ community. I learned a lot from joining a discussion hosted by our minority ethnic working group titled Lets Talk About Race, helping to break down the barriers to talking openly about race and ethnicity. For example, I was struck by the stories people told of colleagues assuming that they were work experience students because ‘not many people of their colour work here’; and of people experiencing senior managers that repeatedly confuse them with colleagues from the same ethnic background.
There is more to do. We have a good balance of men and women in the FRC, including in the broad senior leadership team. But we have too few BAME people, particularly in management roles. We have commissioned a report to help us identify inclusive working practices for people in the LGBTQIA+ community. We continue to roll out unconscious bias training and active bystander training. We are considering a reverse mentoring scheme alongside our mentoring scheme. We must continue to be flexible in recognising the needs of our colleagues, as we have in setting up a community of Mental Health First Aiders to help support people in this time of Covid-19. We need to understand how remote working may affect our inclusivity goals. And we need to respond to wider social movements, such as Black Lives Matter and Me Too.
We need help from colleagues to improve. We need to know where we are as an organisation, and it is for that reason that we launched the Count Me In campaign to gather colleagues’ diversity information. Sharing this information will help us develop strategies to improve inclusiveness, and colleagues are encouraged to share this information. In addition to this, managers should actively canvass staff views on how they can build an inclusive environment for all staff – especially in a remote working environment. One of the ideas arising from my current workstream on the FRC’s values is to have an annual culture survey.
It is clear to me that as we can only progress as an organisation by creating a culture that harnesses all of our colleagues’ amazing experiences and abilities, and makes them feel respected and empowered. This week I will reflect on what I can do to make the FRC a great, inclusive place to work.