Mind the Inclusion Gap
By Suzy Levy
How good allies can bridge the divide between talking diversity and taking action
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Diversity programmes are everywhere. From reverse mentoring to sponsorship, target setting and leadership programmes, interventions in this space are abundant. But are they working? After decades of diversity effort, what has actually changed?
Despite an immense amount of focus, women still earn only a percentage of what their male counterparts receive and the upper echelons of leadership – in sport, politics, business and government – are, for the most part, not that different from when we began our journey. A handful of organisations and individuals are leading the way but, on the whole, our diversity efforts are moving at a glacial pace. Homophobia, transphobia, racism and misogyny remain stubbornly pervasive – meanwhile many inclusion programmes do more to create negativity toward the diversity agenda than they do to create measurable and lasting change.
So, what are we doing wrong? Or better yet, what should we be doing differently if we want to drive different outcomes?
While most of us are curious about diversity, and some would go so far as to call ourselves allies, very few of us are skilled in inclusion. Instead, we double down on being nice and hope it will be enough. In the absence of skills in this space, we allow our moral compasses and our instincts towards kindness to ground us. But these very honourable traits may harm as much as they help.
This book is for anyone who wants to dive into the complex task of supporting diversity. It will build your confidence and practical know-how to help you navigate the polarised and divisive issues we face in the workplace and in the world. It will give the reader everyday skills to move from talking about diversity to taking action and allow them to play a meaningful role in shaping an inclusive future.
- High quality, demy format hardback edition
- Approximately 70,000 words and 300 pages
- YOUR Q&As can be included in the book
- By Suzy Levy, an MD with more than 20 years of experience delivering complex changes for large global organisations
*Book designs, cover and other images are for illustrative purposes and may differ from final design.
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Suzy Levy is a specialist in delivering complex global change programmes. Combining her business transformation experience and a deep understanding of human behaviour, she works with leadership teams to drive cultural change and deliver measurable inclusion & diversity results.
In 2015, Suzy founded The Red Plate where she has worked with clients on hundreds of diversity related projects. Prior to that she worked for Accenture for 16 years. There, she led the strategy and implementation of some of the most progressive inclusion and diversity, employee engagement and talent initiatives in the UK. Programmes under her leadership achieved national recognition, reaching #1 on the Stonewall #1 Workplace Equality Index, Top Ten rankings from BITC for Race and Gender, and Top Ten in the Business Disability Forum Index.
In addition to her client work, Suzy is currently a Trustee at The Women's Sport Trust, a member of the Advisory Board at Foundervine, and third-sector coach for charity CEOs through Impetus Private Equity Foundation. In 2015, Suzy was appointed a Non-Executive Director at the UK Home Office, where she served as a board member for 6 years.
Outside of work, Suzy lives in south London with her daughters Lydia and Ayla, and husband Anthony. She is an avid beach volleyball player, yoga practitioner, lover of gardening and the great outdoors.
Chapter 4: Our Diversity Mess
Diversity is what makes us unique. At its core, it’s what makes us different from other human beings, despite having 99.9% of the same DNA. Inclusion is the process by which allow all that difference to flourish, and ensure that regardless of what sex we are, which gender we identify with, who we love or what the colour of our skin may be, we have equal opportunity to thrive.
Exploring diversity can create joy, wonder and positive energy. But it’s not all sunshine and roses – exploring diversity is also messy. It’s messy because there is no coherent answer to what diversity is - where it starts or where it ends. Whether diversity is seen as good, or bad, is often coloured by our own personal views. Diversity is messy because there are no simple solutions and we are making it up as we go along. Our knowledge and awareness are evolving as we evolve which means we often get diversity interventions wrong, despite having good intentions. When we overemphasise difference, or we pit one group against another, we have the potential to drive resentment, frustration and division. It’s also messy because within and between diverse groups there are often competing belief systems.
The path to inclusion requires answering some tough questions. Even the most basic question, ‘Diverse from what?’ has the propensity to divide. It requires understanding why men, and why white men in particular, do proportionally better than others. To answer the question ‘why doesn’t diversity happen naturally?’ requires looking at some of our base assumptions. Is it that ‘we’ are biased? Or are ‘they’ not good enough?
Thinking about diversity forces us to challenge why some groups systematically rise to the top of our society and others don’t. While some of us would like to think that we all rise based on our own ‘merit’, focusing on diversity forces us to look at fairness and equality, something in which most of us believe deeply but of which we also remain blissfully ignorant. We question fairness when we feel we are being wronged or treated unfairly, but most of don’t consciously seek to understand if we are contributing to the unfairness of others.
The answers we find in this space can threaten our most basic instincts. In order to create a more inclusive world for others, do we have to give up power, advantage and opportunity? In embracing inclusion, do we put ourselves at a disadvantage? If we are in one of the groups who have been advantaged up to this point, is it our turn to sit in the inequality chair?
Fuelled by the access to technology, and the transparency it creates, social media-led moments have created un-paralleled visibility of inequality. Like it or not, movements such as #TimesUp, #MeToo, #LoveisLove and #BlackLivesMatter are transforming our world.
We may not agree with everything being posted, but one thing is for certain: technology has not only transformed visibility, it has enabled a collective voice that was once almost impossible to capture. We have an unparalleled ability to share our story far and wide and to find others with experiences like our own. But like many things, that transparency at speed is a double-edged sword. The pace at which social media explodes a topic means that facts are simply not checked. And traditional media journalists sometimes struggle to keep up with social media's unrelenting speed. Accusations can go a long way around the world before any sort of rebuttal is possible. It also means that small mistakes can end up as career-ending scandals. ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ is irrelevant if an accusation becomes a near instantaneous ‘truth’ via forwards, retweets and shares.
What you do or say can now be seen by millions of people around the world. With that visibility comes social judgement and scrutiny like never before. The list of individuals who have either stepped down or have been fired for their actions or comments is growing. Kevin Roberts, global chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi stepped down after he suggested that women in advertising lacked ambition and were not held back by sexism. Six UK-based bankers found themselves quickly out of jobs after they uploaded a film of themselves acting out a mock ISIS beheading as part of a work-sponsored training programme. At a global science conference, the Nobel prize-winning British scientist Tim Hunt shared his feelings about women in the lab; 'Let me tell you about my trouble with girls … three things happen when they are in the lab … You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticise them, they cry.' As a result, his academic career has been significantly curtailed.
- 26th May 2022 Here we go!!!
Today, I had the pleasure of turning the book manuscript into the Unbound team to begin the editing process. 86,398 words. 151 pages. 4.5 years of my life writing and re-writing between meetings, at night, and even in the wee hours of the dawn when the need to write was so raw it disrupted my sleep.
We are by no means done, but today is definitely a pause for celebration in the Levy house!!…6th May 2022 We did it!
Today, thanks to all of you, Mind the Inclusion Gap is now a fully funded book. In the coming weeks, I get to turn the manuscript in to the Unbound editing team to begin the final editing sequence, the cover design, and all the intricate pieces which make a book ready for distribution and the wider world. How bloody exciting!!
For those of you who know me, you’ll know crowd-funding a book is…23rd March 2022 The joy of spring…
Today the sun is shining on London. It’s meant to be here all week. This glorious weather is not only making the buds grow and blossoms burst - this delightful weather is making me feel heady too.
Covid is still here for sure. It’s never going away. But life in person is happening again which means I get to be back in the same room with clients and feel the joy and energy of delivering face…10th February 2022 Second Chances
It’s been some time since I have had the urge to pick up my pen (so to speak) and write either on the book itself or an update to all of the wonderful people who have already chosen to support Mind the Inclusion Gap. I definitely haven’t had the energy to reach out to anyone new or to engage in social media – that requires too much vulnerability, and my vulnerability has been used up elsewhere.…22nd December 2021 COVID, Christmas & Cancellations
As I shut down my laptop to take some much needed time off, I am struck by three things; Covid, Christmas and the need to stop calling things ‘cancellations’.
Covid is on my mind not least of which because it’s everywhere. My family, and myself, are no exception. I somehow managed to catch COVID19 on either the day of, or the day after my vaccine boost. It came as a bit of a shock as we arrived…1st December 2021 The confines of masculinity...
Two days in and we are 25% funded. I cannot thank you all enough for your support in making Mind the Inclusion Gap a reality. I truly believe that more skills in this space are key to unlocking the future we want and am hopeful that the book can play a role in bridging that skill and confidence gap.
I am feeling very emotional today – a bit because this crowd-funding thing is very intensive…
These people are helping to fund Mind the Inclusion Gap.