Stonewall works with more than 800 companies and organisations in every sector around the UK, supporting their work to create inclusive workplaces and better LGBTQ allies in all aspects of their business.
To celebrate Black History Month, we spoke with Evelyn Asante-Mensah OBE about diversity and inclusion reports, how they work and how they benefit all areas of a business. Stonewall’s been working on its own Race Equity project with a five-year plan of action to ensure its work supports its BAME/PoC staff and the LGBTQ community.
Key acronyms used throughout this article:
BAME: Black, Asian, Minority Ethnicities
PoC: People of Colour
What is a diversity and inclusion report?
Evelyn Asante-Mensah: It’s basically a report produced by organisations to show their achievements against the targets and objectives they have set in relation to their diversity and inclusion work. It outlines what the outcomes have been, giving details of how these outcomes have been achieved and how the work has impacted their business and services; it should also include data on staff and customer diversity. The report will also outline an organisation’s internal and external partnerships, how these partnerships connect to the organisation, and how the organisation is going to work with its customers.
The report should also set out the organisation’s values and vision and why diversity and inclusion are an integral part of everything it does. The report allows the organisation to evaluate and celebrate success while acknowledging the challenges and how these have been overcome to deliver objectives. It may also look to the future, regarding how the organisation intends to build on its successes and mitigate and address its challenges. The report doesn’t need to be a long document, but it should tell the reader about the journey the organisation has been on and the work it will continue to do.
How important is it for organisations to review the work they do to support their BAME/PoC staff members?
Evelyn Asante-Mensah: It’s essential for organisations to review the work they do to support their BAME/PoC staff members. If they don’t review this, it’s difficult to assess how things are working out. It’s also important for an organisation to build and maintain strong and effective relationships with its BAME/POC staff, and also for an organisation to review and, where necessary, make changes as required to improve the experiences of staff.
Engaging and reviewing helps foster trust with BAME members of staff. They will believe that their voices are heard, their lived experience is valued and validated, and the organisation is serious about diversity and inclusion.
What would you say to employers that don't want to invest in Diversity & Inclusion and who don't think it is worth the considerable financial investment?
Evelyn Asante-Mensah: That’s a very short-sighted vision. They’re missing out on the experience and talent that being a diverse and inclusive organisation brings. They’re also potentially missing out on a wide range of people who’d want to engage with their organisation.
Additionally, they’ll have a slower rate of growth and development. Staff who feel valued, understood and accepted for who they are less likely to experience stress and anxiety and will have better health and wellbeing. There’s a lot of research out there showing a correlation between diversity and organisational performance. It’s a no-brainer really. If you want to grow your customer base, be an employer of choice, improve performance of your organisation financially and in other ways, then you need to be able to capitalise on all the talent that’s out there. If your staff and customers see and feel that you genuinely embrace and celebrate diversity and encourage inclusion, you’ll get the best out of your staff teams and loyalty from your customer base. It’s not always easy and there will be challenges along the way, but it will be worth it.
What advice would you give our Diversity Champions that want to do more to support their BAME/POC + LGBT staff?
Evelyn Asante-Mensah: Listen to your staff, work with them continually, let them tell you what they need, encourage dialogue and build trust. Value the experiences of your BAME/PoC LGBT+ staff - remember that people aren’t one dimensional and that they bring their whole self into your organisation.
Recognise intersectionality, don’t ask or expect people to choose what’s more important to them, they must be their whole self and you need to recognise what that means.
I am a Black African lesbian, who is a mother and has non-visible disabilities. All of those things have an impact on how I’ve experienced the world, and how the world has experienced me.