Head of Diversity Refocuses D&I

4th January 2022

Refocussing for Diversity and Inclusion in the New Year

For many, this is the time of year when we look back at the past 12 months and also think about what is to come.  So, for those of us who work in diversity and inclusion, perhaps it’s a suitable moment to reflect on what we have personally learned, achieved and contributed, and to refocus ourselves and others on what will really make a difference and keep up the momentum for change.  Topics that I’ve thought and learned a LOT more about recently are Menopause and Allyship, and Marshalls will be launching new e-learning modules on both these early this New Year.

Another point of reflection for me, prompted by both my own past and by current client experiences, has been how those in Head of D&I or D&I Manager/Adviser roles can feel isolated, are dealing every day with sensitive or controversial issues, and are fighting many battles alone.  Encouragingly and positively, there are a lot of current career opportunities for those working in this field.  New roles are being created and teams expanded, but once in post, so often the whole responsibility for driving this agenda falls too heavily on the professionals in this space.  I recently joined a fantastic session led by my ex-colleague Hayley Bennett who with others explored the challenges faced by people working in D&I and the importance of wellbeing and self-care.  This is well worth a look/listen if you missed it.  At Marshalls we will be holding more client community meetings in 2022, to offer opportunities for learning, and support through networking.

In terms of approaches for D&I for 2022 and beyond, these are my 4 key building-block suggestions for organisations and practitioners to consider.  They have been positioned many times before, but there’s no harm in reminding, restating, and refocussing now.

  • Think long-term and strategic, rather than being tempted by tick-box, superficial one-off projects or pronouncements. Position your D&I agenda within a wider Environment, Social and Governance framework.  Allocate both time and resources and formally recognise the contribution and value of those who play a part in driving change.
  • Collect and analyse data to understand what’s really going on and then devise appropriate responses. Know what’s going on before you come up with a response.  Good intentions and/or assumptions about what the key issues or challenges are won’t hit the spot, and misplaced action will lack credibility too.
  • Spell out who is accountable for what and how they will be held to account. What are the roles and expectations of leaders and managers in terms of D&I, and what can all employees do to help create a culture of inclusion and belonging?  How are all employees supported to be confident, competent and committed?
  • Recognise what’s going on for your people at work and in wider society. Offer opportunities for employees to talk, listen to them with care and sincerity, and respond with compassion and practical solutions where possible.


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