TJ interviews: Bukola Adisa from Career Masterclass

Bukola Adisa talks to TJ about the importance of training in diversity and inclusion to ensure a level playing field in opportunities for minority ethnic groups

How can training events help senior managers understand the importance of diversity in their workplace?
Senior managers who are leading diverse teams must understand that mentorship and role modelling are key elements that enhance talent development initiatives within the workplace. Events provides the platform for professionals from multicultural and multi-ethnic backgrounds to learn, receive inspiration and most importantly, role-modelling from people who look just like them who have also overcome the same challenges they are facing.
Do the post-pandemic working practices make it more difficult to ensure the correct D&I practices are in place?
While visibility can be an issue for anyone within an organisation, the added hoops underrepresented professionals jump through to be seen and heard means that working remotely presents another layer of challenge. However, the principles of visibility remain the same, and doing this virtually requires deliberate effort and intentionality.
How can we ensure a level playing field at all levels in an organisation – from senior leaders to interns?
Training, training and more training. Companies need to be intentional about representation within their organisations, and this must be driven by senior management, not HR alone. Unconscious bias must be learnt about, identified and dealt with.
A thorough review of the organisation’s employment policies and hiring procedures will identify any barriers to inclusion. Policies and standards should emphasise treating others with dignity and respect. HR teams could also ensure that a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination and harassment is adopted, communicated with consequences of breaches highlighted.
Can we develop under-represented groups to take up more senior roles and what are the obstacles to this?
Companies need to be intentional about representation within their organisations. Talent development for underrepresented groups should be a priority. It is also important to review hiring policies, promotion practices and statistics to ensure that the organisation isn’t caught in a cycle of unconscious bias. Conducting panel interviews with diverse panel members, advertising roles through new channels, encouraging ‘blind’ applications are just a few examples of tactics that can eliminate bias
What advice can you give to learning and development professionals who support minority and under-represented groups in their organisations?
Change cannot happen in a vacuum. Involve your stakeholders – for the underrepresented, ask questions, listen to their pain points and carry them along. Tone from the top is critical to successfully building an inclusive culture in the workplace. HR teams have to invest time in educating the senior management team on why this is not a ‘nice to have’ and how it is pivotal to building a sustainable and successful business as multiple studies have shown that diversity impacts businesses positively and contributes to the bottom line. For line managers and sponsors, organise training sessions so they are acutely aware of the issues and directly involved in the process of change.
Bukola Adisa is fonder and CEO of  Career Masterclass 


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