How to bypass the buzzwords and walk the walk

7 ways to take meaningful action on diversity and inclusion by our Head of Business Nuala Murphy as published in Business Post Ireland.

If I asked you to name five business buzzwords du jour, I’m willing to bet that diversity and inclusion would make the list. There’s nothing wrong per se with buzzwords – our first contact with a new concept might come that way, helping to disseminate important ideas – but they all too often lack meaning or lose power. We add business buzzwords to our websites, scatter them around the office and sprinkle them liberally throughout our corporate communications – without pausing to ask ourselves whether we actually mean what we say.

If you’ve proclaimed your commitment to inclusion without asking yourself some difficult questions about your unconscious bias, or implemented a diversity training programme without gauging what it’s like for people from under-represented groups to work for you, then there’s a chance you’ve fallen foul of the buzzword bandwagon. And as I’ve said, there are worse crimes. Banging the drum for diversity because it’s hip in the business world is better than not making a sound about it – but shouting into the wind ultimately serves no-one. Here’s how to bypass the buzzwords and walk the walk of building a more diverse and inclusive workplace without tokenistic gestures.

Understand the wider context
Gender and diversity aren’t issues that exist in a vacuum. The importance of equal opportunity in the workplace hasn’t drifted onto the business radar by accident. From Me Too to the Black Lives Matter movement, the experiences and sacrifices of people from under-represented groups have helped to shape the narrative that has brought us to this point. Take time to read and listen to those accounts and to amplify those voices that form the wider context of building a more equal society.

Don’t create office housework

Research undertaken in 2019 by McKinsey and LeanIn revealed that while women were stepping up as leaders in the workplace – as well as undertaking the majority of the work when it came to diversity, equity and inclusion – they were also suffering from burnout. Without male allies or champions, the work of advancing diversity and inclusion quickly becomes little more than office housework. 

Recognise the legacy of the pandemic

The pandemic encouraged us to re-evaluate our lives so that people no longer just want a job with a big name employer and a good salary – employees place more value on balance, equilibrium and on impact.

Embark on a journey, don’t tick a box

I have had exposure at scale to many different companies at many different sizes, each on a journey with diversity and inclusion with different resources and competing business needs. I’ve seen that if you don’t have a senior level executive championing equality and shaping behaviour and culture, it’s not going to be embedded in the organisation and that means impact is limited. It’s not a tick-box exercise. It’s a journey that needs to be embraced from top to bottom and back again.  We see a lot of employee of the month initiatives and photos of companies who are recognising the great work of their employee resource groups – and that is all good. But embedding diversity and inclusion is more than a health and wellbeing webinar, or a monthly celebration. It actually needs to be across the board to be successful.

Make it visible

Gender and diversity need to be championed and sponsored in the board room. Senior executives need to act visibly and noisily, spending time listening, communicating and representing the importance of diversity and inclusion at every level of the business, from resource investment to transparency in decision making.

Measure impact

Efforts to advance diversity must be measured and people need to be held accountable, whether that’s in performance, recruitment, decision making or hires and promotions. Equality is ultimately about ensuring different ways of thinking are represented in the room, whether you are making a product or providing a service. 

Ask the hard questions

Inclusion and diversity are ultimately about everyone feeling they can have value and influence and bring their whole selves to work, if they choose to.  It’s not just for numbers; it has to effect change. For all organisations with or without HR departments, it’s vital to ask difficult questions about where the organisation is at. Where does it want to go. How is it going to get there. And which behaviours and practices need to stop, what needs to continue and where to start

Nuala Murphy: Buzzwords lose meaning if they’re not backed up with action | Business Post

If you have not yet joined Diversity Mark on your company’s Diversity and Inclusion journey please reach out to emma@diversity-mark-ni.co.uk to discuss the benefits and process.

You can CLICK HERE to join Diversity Mark and work towards achieving the Diversity Mark accreditation.

“To drive change, companies need to invest deeply in all aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Nuala Murphy our interim Head of Business at Diversity Mark chats to Sync NI about her journey, the organisation and the importance of diversity and inclusion in business.

Nuala Murphy, Interim Head of Business at Diversity Mark

Nuala tell us about Diversity Mark and your role with the organisation?  

Diversity Mark is the leading authority on Diversity and Inclusion. The Diversity Mark accreditation is awarded to companies following an independent assessment process which ensures they have reached the required standard of commitment to advancing Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace. The independent assessment panel is led by co-chair Judith Gillespie CBE former Deputy Chief Constable and Deborah Lange Board Member INI and Harbour Commission – alongside Kieran Harding Managing Director BITCNI, Fergal McFerran Stonewall UK, Deborah Donnelly Commissioner for The Equality Commission and Dr Joanne Stuart Chief Executive, Northern Ireland Tourist Alliance.  

For Companies from all sectors the Diversity Mark is a ‘Mark of Progress’ that publicly declares commitment to building more diverse and inclusive workplaces to benefit all employees. There are three stages of accreditation: Bronze, Silver and Gold. At Bronze we ask companies to commit to three gender goals, at Silver we ask for another two goals from the broader diversity spectrum. At Gold level, and subject to interview with our independent assessment panel, there will be an independent audit and staff survey carried out with all members of staff before an accreditation is awarded.  

My role as Interim head of business is to help organisations understand how they can start their journey to building a more diverse and inclusive workplace. When a company signs up to Diversity Mark they automatically get access to a range of resources helping them to get started.  We have our monthly newsletter bringing news from a global and local perspective, we have a series of industry and community events where we bring together existing signatories at the different stages of accreditation to share their journey with us and with the D&I agenda. We also love to connect organisations doing great work up with our signatories who are focusing on their different goals. This is the part of my role I enjoy the most – collaboration.  

When did you first get interested in diversity and inclusion? 

For years I have been an impassioned advocate for women’s equality and have a deep commitment to creating workplaces where every person has a seat at the table and a chance to be heard.  For more than 7 years, I have led a network of thousands of women through Lean In Belfast / Ireland—a grassroots community that supports women to achieve their ambitions. What started as a few friends meeting up at a cafe in Belfast grew to a nationwide community that supported women through mentorship, skills-building, and trainings that helped members to achieve promotions, take on leadership opportunities, and accomplish their goals. Through this experience, I became part of a global community of women who led grassroots groups in countries like Iraq, India, and the United States, which has bolstered my ability to work across cultures and race.   

I led conversations with Sheryl Sandberg in London and then Dublin in front of an audience of thousands, and I was selected by Lean In to come to Silicon Valley as a leader who had shown outstanding promise and commitment to women. Through this experience, I gained insights into the working culture of companies rooted in Silicon Valley and developed my D&I skillset on a global scale. In this role I’ve led corporate partnerships with companies to enhance the private sector’s support for women leaders. Having lived and worked in many countries I am very aware of cultural differences to consider when rolling out any product, service, and initiative and count myself very fortunate to be able to support leaders and companies wanting to do the same.  So that is where it all began.  

What have you seen the biggest challenges for companies are to start their diversity and inclusion agenda?  

Getting started is hard. What I have noticed is that some companies are afraid to make mistakes, because they don’t know how or where to start. This is totally normal. It is also important to highlight that everyone’s starting point is different. My main message is to encourage companies and leaders to do what they can with what they have. We, myself and Emma Lyttle Diversity Mark’s Engagement Manager, are here to walk companies through how to get started. It’s a pretty simple onboarding via our website. Signing up and subscribing to the journey, you choose when you want to submit your first application, with four submission points throughout the year, you could sign up in November and start working on your submission for January or March. We don’t want to rush you, we want to support each company with a flow that works for them.  Our community events are great opportunities for new signatories to see how others have started, goals they set, action plans they have put in place, impact and challenges.   

Do you have any key insights you can share with us from a global and local perspective?  

The McKinsey LeanIn.org Women In The Workplace study 2021 revealed that at a time when the stakes have never been higher, women are showing up as better people-focused leaders and stronger advocates for Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) They are more likely, than men at their levels, to take consistent steps to promote employee well-being, such as checking in on their team members and helping them manage their workloads. They are also more likely to support DEI initiatives and to be active allies to women of colour. But although this work drives better outcomes for all employees, it is going largely overlooked by companies. There’s a risk that it will be relegated to a new form of “office housework”—work that is critical to the business but not compensated—and in most organizations, what gets rewarded is what gets prioritised.  

Senior-level women are twice as likely as senior-level men to spend substantial time on DEI work that falls outside their formal job responsibilities.  

Eighty-six percent of companies say it’s “very or extremely” critical that managers support their team members’ well-being, but only twenty-five percent formally recognise those who do this—and a similar trend holds for DEI work.  

When managers take action to promote employee well-being and companies prioritize DEI, employees are happier, less burned out, and less likely to consider leaving their company.  

To drive change, companies need to invest deeply in all aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion.  

To improve representation of all women across the pipeline, companies need to double down on reducing bias in reviews and promotions, and they need to hold leaders and managers accountable for progress. But diversity in numbers isn’t enough. Companies also need to create a culture that fully leverages the benefits of diversity—one in which women, and all employees, feel comfortable bringing their unique ideas, perspectives, and experiences to the table.  

Key Findings  

More than 90 percent of companies track women’s overall representation, but only 65 percent track gender differences in promotion rates.  

Almost 70 percent of companies hold senior leaders accountable for progress on diversity goals—but only 30 percent hold managers, who play a critical role in hiring and promotion decisions, accountable.  

 Only 34 percent of employees have participated in anti-racism training in the past year, and just 14 percent have received allyship training.  

Why should organisations commit to a public accreditation?  

More and more I am hearing from organisations how at the interview stage they are being asked about their diverse and inclusive policies and initiatives. It is very much an employee market right now where commitment to and evidence of policy and practice has never been higher up the agenda for candidates. Speaking recently to a large business network it was shared that the EDI agenda along with the green agenda is where their members want to be better equipped.  This is and will affect change across the board and I encourage leaders to get on board before they are left behind.  

What advice do you have for organisations wanting to get started but don’t know where to begin?  

 If you are a business leader, a HR manager or someone who wants to drive change in your organisation, you can start your own journey by joining the rapidly growing Diversity Mark community of signatories and commit to building a more diverse and inclusive workplace where all employees can feel valued and supported to do their best work. We want to support you and enable your success in this area. Not only will it help your attract and retain staff, but it will contribute to building a more equal, representative and inclusive society that at the end of the day is good for our economy.  

About Diversity Mark  

Diversity Mark is a not-for-profit organisation that focuses on enabling and supporting companies of all sizes across the UK & Ireland in achieving an Accreditation to recognise commitment to diversity and inclusion. The Accreditation follows a methodology of self-assessment and prioritises continuous progression, with goals set by and appropriate to each individual organisation. The Accreditation commits organisations to support the progression of women (or men, if underrepresented) into senior roles by focusing on the executive pipeline and the mid-tier level. It recognises that organisations are diverse and the starting points for each may differ, and thus each organisation will set its own targets, strategy and implementation plan.   

If you have not yet joined Diversity Mark on your company’s Diversity and Inclusion journey please reach out to emma@diversity-mark-ni.co.uk to discuss the benefits and process.

You can CLICK HERE to join Diversity Mark and work towards achieving the Diversity Mark accreditation.

Diversity, Equality and Inclusion: Good for Business

Interim Head of Business Nuala Murphy takes a look at why diversity, equality and inclusion have never been more important.

‘Supporting women in work to achieve their ambitions, whatever they may be, has been a focus of mine over the past eight years through my voluntary capacity as a Lean In Network leader. We have seen thousands of women from across all industries benefit from being part of the Lean In Circle programme in their communities and organisations.

Nuala Murphy, Interim Head of Business at Diversity Mark

The benefits have seen eight out of 10 women saying that being part of a supportive group has had a positive impact on their lives, in work we have seen those who wanted a promotion, change in working patterns or indeed change in career, fulfil their goals.

Companies with more women on their boards, perform better. Mixed gender startups raise more money and build more inclusive products. More diverse teams perform better.

Since taking up my role with Diversity Mark, I have been encouraged to see the commitment among the growing number of signatories to their ‘Mark of Progress’ across Ireland and the UK. There is no doubt the pandemic shone a light on the disproportioned work women do at home and in work compared to male colleagues and partners and as such, leaders had to take heed and find ways to better support and enable their employees.

According to the McKinsey LeanIn.org Women In The Workplace study 2021: “At a time when the stakes have never been higher, women are showing up as better people-focused leaders and stronger advocates for diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) they are more likely, than men at their levels, to take consistent steps to promote employee well-being, such as checking in on their team members and helping them manage their workloads.

“They are also more likely to support DEI initiatives and to be active allies to women of colour. But although this work drives better outcomes for all employees, it is going largely overlooked by companies.”

The key findings

More than 90% of companies track women’s overall representation, but only 65% track gender differences in promotion rates.

Almost 70% of companies hold senior leaders accountable for progress on diversity goals – but only 30% hold managers, who play a critical role in hiring and promotion decisions, accountable. Only 34% of employees have participated in anti-racism training in the past year.

Senior-level women are twice as likely as senior-level men to spend substantial time on DEI work that falls outside their formal job responsibilities.

Some 86% of companies say it’s “very or extremely” critical that managers support their team members’ well-being, but only twenty-five percent formally recognise those who do this – and a similar trend holds for DEI work.

When managers take action to promote employee well-being and companies prioritise DEI, employees are happier, less burned out, and less likely to consider leaving their company.

To drive change, companies need to invest deeply in all aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

To improve representation of all women across the pipeline, companies need to double down on reducing bias in reviews and promotions, and they need to hold leaders and managers accountable for progress. But diversity in numbers isn’t enough. Companies also need to create a culture that fully leverages the benefits of diversity – one in which women, and all employees, feel comfortable bringing their unique ideas, perspectives, and experiences to the table.

What action can we take?

You can start and continue your own journey by joining the rapidly growing Diversity Mark community of signatories across Ireland and the UK and commit to building a more diverse and inclusive workplace where all employees can feel valued and supported to do their best work. We want to support you and enable your success in this area. Not only will it help you attract and retain staff, but it will contribute to building a more equal, representative and inclusive society that at the end of the day is good for our economy.’

If you have not yet joined Diversity Mark on your company’s Diversity and Inclusion journey please reach out to emma@diversity-mark-ni.co.uk to discuss the benefits and process.

You can CLICK HERE to join Diversity Mark and work towards achieving the Diversity Mark accreditation.

Baker McKenzie awarded Silver Diversity Mark Accreditation

We are delighted to announce that Baker McKenzie have been awarded the Silver Diversity Mark Accreditation for their ongoing commitment to advancing Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace.

Nuala Murphy, Interim Head of Business at Diversity Mark, James Richards, Executive Director at Baker McKenzie and Lauren Diamondis, Senior HR Business Partner at Baker McKenzie awarded Silver Diversity Mark Accreditation.

James Richards, Executive Director at Baker McKenzie commented “As a global firm, diversity is part of our DNA and we take considerable pride in what we do to advance equality around the world. We believe that no one should be put at a disadvantage, professionally, financially or socially, on the basis of who they are. Here in Belfast, our Inclusion and Diversity Networks have been doing a lot of work both within the office and in the community to champion equality. We are incredibly proud to have been awarded the Silver Diversity Mark and I’m thrilled that this work is being recognized.”

Baker McKenzie hosted an internal event to celebrate their success as a team. Nuala Murphy, Diversity Mark Interim Head of Business was invited as a guest to attend the event and take part in a Q&A along side Dianne Foster, IT Director at Baker McKenzie. Nuala detailed her personal experience with Diversity and Inclusion throughout her career as well as highlighting all the strategic and progressive initiatives Baker McKenzie have implemented and embedded into their organisation.

Nuala Murphy, Interim Head of Business at Diversity Mark said “We are thrilled that Baker McKenzie have been awarded the Silver Diversity Mark in recognition of their progress and ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion and we congratulate all the team on this very significant achievement. The independent assessment panel praised Baker McKenzie’s substantial efforts in shaping a truly inclusive workplace as well as showing leadership as a role model to other organizations. We look forward to them continuing their progressive and innovative initiatives moving forward on their Diversity and Inclusion journey.”

Huge congratulations to all the team at Baker McKenzie on achieving this accolade.

If you have not yet joined Diversity Mark on your company’s Diversity and Inclusion journey please reach out to emma@diversity-mark-ni.co.uk to discuss the benefits and process.

You can CLICK HERE to join Diversity Mark and work towards achieving the Diversity Mark accreditation.

Belfast entrepreneur Nuala Murphy named interim Head of Business at Diversity Mark

Nuala Murphy, who joins Diversity Mark as interim Head of Business

Diversity Mark NI are delighted to announce that Belfast entrepreneur Nuala Murphy has been confirmed as interim Head of Business.

Nuala founded Lean in Belfast in 2013, the volunteer-run chapter of the non-profit group created by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. The group, which began as a small network of peers from all walks of professional life, now boasts 3,000 members across Ireland.

During lockdown last year, Nuala also set up the Women’s Investor Ready Project, a community interest group dedicated to changing the stat of investment in women entrepreneurs regionally.

She will join Diversity Mark on a 14-month basis while the firm’s current head of business Christine White, is on maternity leave.

With a commitment to building a more diverse and inclusive workplace, Diversity Mark enables organisations to identify and take action on any institutional barriers facing underrepresented groups. Founded in 2016 by Women in Business, Diversity Mark now represents 80,000 employees in Northern Ireland.

In her new role, Nuala will bring her skills and global experience in diversity and inclusion and will be focused on expanding Diversity Mark’s reach to include the rest of Ireland and the UK, helping the organisation achieve its objectives in 2021 and beyond. She will channel her passion and commitment to building a more equal society, working with companies from all sectors as they commit to advancing diversity and inclusion to benefit all employees.

Nuala said: “It is a real honour to carry on Christine’s mantle as Head of Business at Diversity Mark, an organisation that has become such a vital proponent of workplace inclusivity across Northern Ireland.

“For years I’ve been an impassioned advocate for women’s equality and have a deep commitment to creating workplaces where every person has a seat at the table and a chance to be heard. Never has there been a better time to have organisations sign up to commit to diverse and inclusive strategies and practice and I am very much looking forward to building on the momentum and success that the Diversity Mark team has achieved to date.

“I am calling on companies and those I have worked with in the past to get in touch with Diversity Mark NI to begin their diversity journey.”

In her first month in post, Nuala will be involved in a fireside chat “Emerging Stronger” with Danske Bank’s Gender Diversity Network. The event will be an honest conversation of how challenges of lockdown were overcome and how to thrive in the new normal, with Nuala talking about her experience during the past year and how it led to her taking up her new role with Diversity Mark.

If you have not yet joined Diversity Mark on your company’s Diversity and Inclusion journey please reach out to emma@diversity-mark-ni.co.uk to discuss the benefits and process.

You can CLICK HERE to join Diversity Mark and work towards achieving the Diversity Mark accreditation.

New Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service announced

Bronze Diversity Mark accredited NI Civil Service have announced Jayne Brady is to be the new Head of the NI Civil Service. (NICS)

Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill confirmed the appointment after the successful completion of the NICS recruitment process for the new Head of the Civil Service (HOCS).

Jayne is currently the Digital Innovation Commissioner within Belfast City Council and will succeed Jenny Pyper, who has been serving as Interim HOCS since December 2020.

First Minister Arlene Foster said:

“This is a hugely significant appointment for the Northern Ireland Civil Service and for the institutions of government. As leader of some 23,000 civil servants and chief policy adviser to the Executive, the HOCS role is central to the development and delivery of public services. Jayne is an experienced and highly skilled leader who has much to bring to the role.

“After a tumultuous year for the public sector, as society has grappled with the impacts of the pandemic, there is a need now for a renewed focus on rebuilding and delivering for the people of Northern Ireland. Jayne will play a crucial part in guiding the Executive and leading the NICS to support delivery and improved outcomes for the public. “I wish Jayne every success as she prepares to undertake this important role and offer my thanks to Jenny Pyper who has carried out the duties of Interim HOCS with dedication and conviction.” 

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said:

“I welcome the appointment of Jayne Brady as the new Head of the Civil Service. 

“Jayne brings extensive experience and skills to this critical leadership role in supporting the Executive and leading the Civil Service on the delivery of the commitments from New Decade, New Approach agreement, Programme for Government and the monumental task of recovery as we manage our way through the Covid pandemic. “I offer my congratulations to Jayne on her appointment.

“I also want to put on record my thanks to Jenny Pyper, who stepped up to carry out the role on an interim basis over the past seven months during a time of great challenge for the Executive and civil service as we have responded to the global health crisis.”

Jayne Brady, new Head of the Civil Service

Commenting on her appointment Jayne Brady said:

“I’m honoured to be appointed as Head of the Civil Service. The NICS has a dedicated and skilled workforce who have done an outstanding job in the most challenging of circumstances. I will work with colleagues across the service to further develop the NICS as a high-performing organisation that effectively supports the institutions of government.  

“I am under no illusions about the scale of the challenges ahead, but I am looking forward to supporting the Executive in delivering their commitments and priorities during my tenure.”

An announcement on when Jayne will take up her post will be made shortly.

Jayne Brady is an engineer at heart with extensive, board experience and a track record of success that transcends blue-chip corporations, start-ups and funding ecosystems. She has over 20 years’ leadership experience and a diverse skillset including venture capital, due diligence, corporate governance, setting strategy, leading teams, technical ownership and finance across complex organisational structures internationally.

Jayne has a strong, established professional network and is a Fellow of the Institute of Directors, the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the Irish Academy of Engineers; she sits on the NI Committee for the IoD and the Engineering Policy Group, is a board director on Queen’s University Belfast Spinout Fund, QUBIS and is a Trustee for Young Enterprise NI.

Congratulations to Jayne from all the team at Diversity Mark.

Find out more about The Diversity Mark Accreditations.