Bupa UK CEO David Hynam looks at why it's so important for businesses to champion diversity and inclusion and discusses what more can be done at all levels.
We know work is better when we create a positive working environment where everyone feels comfortable being their true self. As it’s National Inclusion Week, I’ve been reflecting on creating an inclusive workplace, how to do it, and what more can be done.
As a strong advocate of diversity in the workplace, it was an honour to recently be in the 2018 Financial Times and HERoes list which recognises the top global leaders championing women in business. This inclusive approach goes for all people.
I think it’s important for businesses to have a clear stance on inclusion. Having a code of conduct that clearly sets out that all colleagues are treated equally, regardless of sexual orientation or other factors like gender, age, race or religion is one way to help everyone feel comfortable within the business and that discrimination has no place within the organisation.
Initiatives powered by employees are a great way of identifying everyday ways to embrace diversity and inclusion. This week we’ve launched an internal campaign called ‘Be You at Bupa’ where our people are encouraged to share their thoughts on what inclusion means to them, and how we can support them be their true selves at work. This is an opportunity for us to hear from our people on what is working and what more can be done to support them. For me, bringing my full self to work has lots of dimensions. I can be really open about the areas of my job where I lack confidence as well as being comfortable with being open about my ‘Mr & Mr’ home life. Sometimes not everyone feels that they can bring their whole self – however I encourage all businesses to create a culture where everyone feels safe and welcomed.
Employee run groups are also helpful in creating inclusive workplaces. Our DiverCity network group was set up by two colleagues, but it now spans all our business, in all our UK offices. The group works hard to increase awareness and understanding of different backgrounds and cultures, not just in Bupa but also within the local communities to our business.
DiverCity has supported many employees over the years, including Seivar Al-Firqa, who, through the help of his colleagues, was able to come out to his family. Here’s his experience:
"Growing up there weren’t many safe spaces for me to be my true authentic self. When I joined Bupa, my colleagues embraced what makes us all individually unique, which made me quickly understand the importance of diversity and the need to be included.
Today, I am proud to say that I live my truth and have come out to my family as LGBTQ+, only to find that they love me for being me.”
I’d also encourage businesses to sign up to our ‘Everyone’s Welcome’ pledge - a commitment to celebrating diversity and inclusion in the workplace. You can do it online here www.bupa.co.uk/everyones-welcome-pledge
Creating inclusive workplaces simply makes good business sense as it allows us to attract the right people for the right positions. While National Inclusion Week is a good opportunity for us to reflect on what actions we’re taking, businesses should continue the conversation all year round.