Sally Bucknell is EY’s Director, Diversity & Inclusiveness in the UK and Ireland, where she leads on organisational development, leadership development and talent management. Sally has been appointed as a judge for the Northern Power Women Awards, established to celebrate and showcase role models who take positive steps towards transforming business culture and improving gender diversity in the North of England.
“…Change comes from understanding how our collective biases shape the culture in our business, how this culture can, generally, pre-determine who is more likely to succeed, and what we can do as leaders to interrupt that culture, and through our day-to-day individual behaviours and leadership create a more inclusive culture, where all our people want to and can succeed…”
The importance of being yourself at work
I think everyone would agree that being able to be yourself at work is important, regardless of your background, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or any other aspect of who you are as an individual and that is why diversity and inclusion is important to all employers, including EY.
But for me, diversity and inclusiveness is primarily about business success. At EY, diversity is about differences, not just gender or ethnicity but also, for example, background, education, nationality, generation, age, religion, sexual orientation. Inclusiveness is about leveraging those differences to achieve better business results. Success means we will attract and recruit the best talent and tap into new business opportunities and networks.
Achieving our ambitions
To achieve our Vision 2020 ambitions, EY must create the highest performing (and sometimes borderless) teams, which means harnessing all the different experiences and points-of-view that come from a diverse team of people.
Multiple research studies show that a diverse team far out-performs a team made up of similar people, but only if the diverse team is led inclusively. We are 45% more likely to improve market share and 70% more likely to have success.
Holding business leaders to account
My role at EY is to hold our business leaders to account for achieving the diverse and inclusive workforce we need to achieve these commercial goals, and to support them to make this a reality. My expertise is in organisational development and change and I believe it is crucial for diversity and inclusion leaders to understand how their businesses really work.
Too often diversity and inclusion activity focuses on ‘fixing’ others – the women or the BME people – through development programmes aimed at those groups for example. While I think such programmes have a part to play, I believe that businesses need to turn the binoculars round and start to look at fixing themselves.
Understanding collective biases to create a more inclusive culture
Change comes from understanding how our collective biases shape the culture in our business, how this culture can, generally, pre-determine who is more likely to succeed, and what we can do as leaders to interrupt that culture, and through our day-to-day individual behaviours and leadership create a more inclusive culture, where all our people want to and can succeed.
These kinds of changes are difficult to drive and require that all of us examine our beliefs / perceptions / behaviours. This is not easy to do but based on what I am seeing and hearing from our clients and people, I believe it is an imperative for EY, and all businesses.
Supporting the Northern Power Women Awards
Diversity and Inclusiveness is at the core of our business strategy and is a priority for all of us in the firm. We believe that this is increasingly evident to our clients and our people as we win awards for our inclusive brand, our inclusiveness strategies and our role models. However, much of the national debate on diversity and inclusion is London-centric and I want to make it more visible to our people across the UK.
The Northern Power Women conference is one of the first opportunities to have this public debate and for business to nail its colours to the mast. Last year’s event brought together business leaders and aspiring leaders at all levels, including from schools and colleges, to talk about how to make change happen.
The event and the awards were inspiring and do, I believe, help us all to see how we can play a part in creating the kind of inclusive world we want to inhabit. I believe it is important to provide a platform to showcase our successes and our struggles.
Why the awards are important
The awards are an important part of engaging business in the diversity challenge. Any change leaders will tell you how important it is to recognise and reward success and these awards are a great way of doing that. More importantly, they provide a platform for sharing that success; they enable other leaders and organisations to understand what is working elsewhere and explore how they might apply it in their own business.
Award winners are usually delighted to share their ideas and lessons, we certainly are, and so the commitment and activity spreads and the change takes root. The power of role models should never be underestimated.
I hope we can encourage more businesses in the region to enter the awards and help grow our reputation for diversity and inclusiveness collectively in the region. I strongly believe this will add to the attractiveness and future success of all our businesses in the North.
There are nine categories to enter and more than half of the awards are open to both men and women:
- One to Watch
- Outstanding Entrepreneur
- Person of Purpose
- Mentor of the Year
- Agent of Change
- Transformational Leader
- Small Business
- Medium Business
- Large Business
In addition to the awards, the campaign is also looking for the Top 50 women and men who are providing both inspiration and opportunity to women in the workplace, and another Top 50 leaders of the future when it comes to creating gender balanced workplaces.
Judges confirmed so far are:
Jo Swinson, former women and equalities minister
Andrew Cornish, CEO, Liverpool Airport
Karen Hubbard, COO, B&M Retail
David Fairhurst, Vice President People, McDonalds
Ian Morrison, Regional Leader Yorkshire & North East, PwC
Paula Chadwick, CEO, Roy Castle Lung Foundation
Ali Gayward, UK Commercial Manager, easyJet
Ruth Shaw, Head of Campaigns & Engagement, Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Nominations for all the categories, and for the ‘Top 50 Power List’ and the ‘Top 50 Future List’ close on 18th December and winners will be announced at a gala awards dinner in Manchester on 3rd March 2016.
For more information or to make a nomination, visit www.northernpowerwomen.co.uk