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Written by Holly Thomas-Wrightson on Monday October 17, 2022
In September, ICA and Broadgate joined forces to host a panel discussion on diversity and inclusion in London. Chaired by ICA’s James Rickett and Broadgate’s Matt Carter, ‘Diversity in Compliance’ brought together industry professionals to reflect on the role of D&I in compliance.
The panellists – ICA Member of the Year Paul Asare-Archer (Virgin Media and O2), Jenny Hinde (Clear Company), ICA D&I Champion winner Kalissa Thomas-Mestanas (Kroo) and Amy Bell (Teal Compliance) – discussed the impact of D&I initiatives on their own lives, as well as why developing effective D&I policies and procedures within a firm is vital to attracting and maintaining talent.
Employees are, now more than ever, choosing to work for companies that align with their own beliefs and morals. They judge businesses not just on their environmental, social and governance (ESG) targets or inclusive hiring practices, but on the extent to which they are actually putting such measures into practice.
What’s more, compliance professionals are rarely looking to work in an entry level role for the rest of their lives: they’re looking for a career, with the real promise of progression. If a business doesn’t show that it is diverse and inclusive at all levels – if all employees see at higher levels is the same homogenous group of people – then they will recognise that there is a barrier to their career development, and leave for somewhere that will allow them to grow based on their talents.
A business can also leave itself open to failure if it neglects to ensure it has diversity of thought and knowledge. Rickett gave an example of how, while working in the Middle East, he had a preconceived idea of what money laundering and terrorist financing looked like.
In his own words, ‘not recruiting a diverse team probably resulted in money being laundered because of issues that we weren't able to see, or issues we couldn't stop’.
It was only through working with a diverse team who knew what to look for in different cultures, and a new recruitment drive for diverse intelligence analysts, that an accurate picture of the risk exposure of the firm was captured.
‘Compliance is customer focused’, said Thomas-Mestanas, ‘when you have diverse people, you will get a diverse outcome… Our customers are not all the same; they have different needs.’
A firm with a diverse group of employees is better equipped not just at handling customer problems and issues in real time, but at being able to plan for their needs in the future, putting policies and procedures in place before issues come up so that they can be handled more effectively and customers treated more fairly.
A firm’s reputation may be damaged by poor staff retention, a lack of diversity of knowledge and thought, or even by failing to meet customer or business needs. But we can’t forget how damaging a lack of diversity and inclusion is ‘to individuals and human beings when we're not treating them as the unique individuals that they are’, Hinde said.
Asare-Archer echoed this by drawing on his own experience, explaining that he hadn’t realised that he had been hiding parts of his life experience. ‘I wanted my colour to be invisible. I didn't want to talk about my working class background… I got into organisations where inclusivity was spoken about… and I became such a better leader… I’m a completely different person’.
The panellists also shared D&I strategies that they had seen actually work. They agreed that it was crucial to create spaces for people to talk about themselves, their challenges and experiences, and breaking down the barriers that stop people talking about the issues that they face. Having buy-in from senior management, the panel said, will help push a D&I agenda to the forefront and help support real change.
One of the most prescient comments came from Asare-Archer, who touched on authenticity. ‘Authenticity is the key to D&I. If you have an authentic environment, authentic leadership, it really unleashes talents in your individuals and that's just a really practical thing to think about.’
This authenticity, together with a firm, proactive approach towards actually implementing D&I measures, will help any organisation and its employees protect themselves from risk, broaden their horizons and discover new opportunities for growth.
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