Truths were told at the inaugural DiversityQ D&I Practitioners Summit

From valuable tips, courses, book recommendations and straight-talking, the DiversityQ D&I Practitioners Summit had it all.

Whether established in the role or just starting out there was something new to take away from DiversityQ’s inaugural D&I Practitioners Summit, held at County Hall on December 4. 

The extensive agenda delivered by 28 diverse industry thought leaders took on the challenge of demystifying some of the everyday problems diversity and inclusion professionals have advancing workplace attitudes towards difference. 

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Over 100 D&I practitioners attended the DiversityQ D&I Practitioners Summit to hear Jane McDonald, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, explain how she had achieved success at Leonardo UK, by getting to know the aerospace organisation and its culture inside out using a robust three-pillar approach.

Start by capturing the data, “based on a shared vision of what the business wants to achieve”, was the advice of a panel comprising: Alex Storer, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Diversity Pride; Patrick Alleyne, Human Resources Reward and Operations Manager, Greater London Authority; Fatima Tresh, Associate Business Psychology Consultant, Delta Alpha Psi, and Teresa Boughey, Founder & CEO, Inclusion247. 

Following best practice tips on what data to gather, how (including the global legal implications ) and the analysis, Alleyne told the D&I practitioners to: “Build a compelling story as the more invested in change the entire organisation is, the easier it will be to collect and use the right data.” 

Angela Peacock, the CEO of PDT Global, shared ‘how to successfully get buy-in from C-suites in seven practical steps.

Straight talking

Then followed advice on how to get senior leaders to better support D&I practitioners. Storytelling, sharing lived experiences, getting to know them and being specific about an ask are techniques that had worked for: Cynthia Davis, CEO & Founder, BAME Recruitment Ltd; Vivienne Aiyela, Non-Executive Director of Football, The London Football Association; Nancy Lengthorn, Managing Partner – Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Future Talent, MediaCom; Dee Jas, Founder of Colourfull and Jane McDonald.

Hard-hitting truths were brought home in sessions on ‘Getting comfortable with “uncomfortable” conversations’ on race, ‘How to ensure a safe and inclusive work environment for LGBT+ employees’ and ‘Improving the experiences of disabled staff members.’

The fear of losing their job or using the wrong language is preventing people from discussing race in the workplace. But what is more problematic is when they say, ‘I don’t see colour’. “It’s simply not true because if you ask them what colour their clothes are, they’ll be able to tell you. What they are doing is ignoring the lived experience of others because it means they’ll have to reflect on their behaviours and beliefs,” said Dee Jas.

On transgender inclusion, Joanne Lockwood, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, SEE Change Happen asked: “One remedy would to simply label toilets as ‘bathrooms’ rather than ‘his’ or ‘hers’. On an aeroplane, everyone is more than happy to share on the gender-neutral facility.”

Caroline Casey from The Valuable 500, raised emotions in the room with the passionate delivery of her journey to setting up the movement to get 500 companies to commit to disability inclusion at board level. 

The end of the day was supercharged with new energy when Cherron Inko-Tariah explained the value of staff networks.

The DiversityQ D&I Practitioners Summit (a Bonhill Group event) was full of actions delegates could take away and look to tailor for their organisation’s needs. 

Chair Asari St.Hill, Diversity Adviser for the National Centre for Diversity (NCfD), said: “The D&I Summit organised by Bonhill Plc was an excellent event. I loved the wide range of expert speakers and diverse perspectives on how to move the diversity and inclusion agenda forward throughout organisations across the UK. I particularly liked the fact that we could ask questions to the panels and speakers. Overall, I learnt a lot and was inspired to do more in this space.

“I am looking forward to next year’s event already.”

Jonathan Hassell, CEO, Hassell Inclusion, said: “Really enjoyed DiversityQ’s D&I summit. A great place to hear a diverse range of insights from across D&I. And a great experience presenting insights from people with disabilities who often get overlooked in D&I. Thanks for being the most truly inclusive of D&I conferences I’ve been to.” 

Patrick Alleyne said: The day just kept on giving in terms of information and ideas about how to address many of the issues in the D & I sphere. Great energy in the room all day and superb networking opportunities during breaks. Left the conference exhausted from absorbing so much practical information.”

The DiversityQ D&I Practitioners Summit’s event partner was Belonging Space, and it’s media partners: BAME RecruitmentEquality GroupDiversifying.IOGiresIAWA and LGBT Great.

The feedback was extremely positive with one delegate commenting: “It is so important to talk. The more we share and talk about uncomfortable topics, the more we can move forward to help and continue to make a change.”

“Not sure where to start. Loads of actual and tangible advice on embedding diversity and inclusion at today’s DiversityQ D&I Summit. From data to policies, and storytelling to holding uncomfortable conversations. Refreshing!,” said Sinead Daly, D&I, Revolut.

The agenda and full list of speakers can be found here. The next DiversityQ D&I Practitioners Summit will be held in San Fransisco on March 26.

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