Tali Shlomo is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD, an internationally recognised HR Director, and Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) and Wellbeing thought leader.

Her achievements were recognised in the 2020 Insurance Business Global 100 influential people for creating inclusive workplace cultures. She was shortlisted for the Women in Finance Awards 2020 as Ambassador of the Year for her work on gender equality. She was highly Commended for Diversity Champion of the Year 2020 at the Financial Adviser Diversity in Finance Awards. And is also a qualified career coach supporting women to achieve their career aspirations as they break through the glass ceiling.

Here she talks to BIE Director HR, Catherine Osaigbovo, about the importance of ethnicity pay gap reporting, and how to more effectively deliver on diversity, inclusion, and wellbeing initiatives to improve workplace cultures.

Why is ethnicity pay gap reporting important for businesses?

It is important to start with the ‘why’, which for me has always been around culture transformation as a catalyst to support sustainable business growth. Culture aligned to corporate values can only truly be achieved to its optimum when we have diversity and inclusion as part of the strategic direction. Whether a business is starting on its diversity and inclusion strategy or already broadening to ethnicity, it is important to take an evidence-based approach, which we can only do with data.

Like many boards and leadership teams, reviewing the P&L is a standard agenda item. We invest time to analyse data on our financial health with plenty of narrative, scenarios and modelling. So why would that be any different for diversity and inclusion and, in this example, ethnicity.

Ethnicity pay gap reporting and the data beneath this gap provides a baseline on where your culture is. It covers all aspects of the people experience for colleagues who identify as Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME).  When we start to analyse the data, taking a deep dive with the interplay on attraction, retaining through promotion, appraisals, reward and so forth, we start to truly recognise the impact and importance of having the right culture and values has on our colleagues.

Like with P&L, a catalyst to innovate, change and get buy-in is through data which provides an insight to where we are and where we want to be.

How do you start reporting?

Engagement, engagement, engagement. People like to be engaged with, connecting with another person is an invaluable experience. This has been amplified during the pandemic. The power of conversations, connecting, sharing, learning and support can only nourish our organisational culture.

If we take the pandemic as an example of our experience, each one of us has experienced this time in a different way, it has been unique to each of us. The same with our identity and lived experience. No two people’s experience the same, whether they identify as BAME, a women or people of disability as an example. This is why the power of conversation and connecting is vital. By taking the time to learn and share, we can start to shift the dial of inclusion.

There are many ways we can create an engagement plan with our colleagues, and one way is to involve them in the planning. Inviting your colleagues to share what they would like to see, experience and hear in the engagement plan, and ultimately would they also like to share their lived experience.

When the dialogue around diversity and inclusion becomes the fabric of the organiation, the trust to share and be curious starts to evolve. With this we can then start to explore how to invite colleagues to share personal and sensitive information on their identity. Employee resource groups or inclusion groups can help businesses to frame and communicate why the business is collecting the data, how it will store it and use it.

There are many ways you can make this real for your colleagues. If each person’s lived experience is unique to them, then each person will respond differently to this invitation to provide their data.

Will this have an impact on changing cultures?

Shining a light on how we attract, retain and promote our colleagues who identify as BAME with robust data is a catalyst for an inclusive workplace culture. If people are our greatest asset and culture is the heart and lungs of our business, then surely paying attention to the finer distinctions on how we support our colleagues can only positively impact our business strategy.

Irrespective of which industry we work in, we all appoint people, we all lead people and we all rely on people to contribute to our business strategy. Therefore, by starting to create a place of work where our people can bring their best selves to work can only enhance their presence, delivery and output. There is plenty of data to support this. We can only change legacy processes and approaches by understanding the impact they have on our colleagues, which in turn drives our strategic business outcomes.

A recent McKinsey report stated that nearly 45% of women, BAME and LGBT+ chose not to join an organisation due to the perceived lack of diversity and inclusion. This is not a statistic which we should be proud of. The war for talent is real if we are not capturing the diverse talent on our doorstep.

Culture is driven by our behaviours, actions and processes. If we start to engage, connect and use the data to help us revisit the way we do things, our organisational values start to become the heartbeat of the organisation.

What positive changes have you seen?

I have been delivering on diversity, inclusion and wellbeing for nearly 15 years. In that time I have seen Boards discussing this as part of the P&L and as part of the people strategy.  We have seen the disclosure of the gender pay gap and I disclosed the ethnicity pay gap two years ago which provided us a platform to start to develop a framework to report on sexual orientation and disability pay gap.

We have seen that the Lord Davies review provided clear recommendations to increase female representation on Boards which was later built on with the Hampton-Alexander review to increase gender representation to at least 33% by 2020.

The Parker review also provides clear recommendation to improve the ethnic and cultural diversity of UK Boards to better reflect their employee base and the communities they serve.

All of these provide us with a platform to build on the progress we have made while recognising there are many opportunities for us to improve the place of work.

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