PROSPER MAGAZINE: DIGITAL EDITION
5 MINUTES WITH: TERESA BOUGHEY
Black Country Women in Leadership steering group member and CEO of Jungle HR, Teresa Boughey, is a strategic HR consultant and best-selling author of ‘Closing the Gap: 5 steps to creating an Inclusive Culture. Appointed to one of only 50 UK Female Entrepreneur Ambassador roles she is a Business Board Member of the All-Party Parliamentary Groups for Women and Enterprise and Women and Work.
How did you get into Diversity as a field?
That’s interesting because for me we’re all in the field of Diversity!
Diversity is you and me, it’s our unique difference, so we are all in this field. I’ve worked in corporate HR for over 25 years now and what this has taught me is people really are key to success and it’s the diversity of people and the creation of an environment where everyone is able to thrive and flourish where companies will excel.
What are some of the programmes you’re most proud of?
I’ve delivered some transformational programmes for my clients and I am incredibly proud of our ‘Impact’ Diversity and Inclusion Accelerator which is based around my unique Tribe5 Diversity & Inclusion methodology ® Diversity and inclusion shouldn’t be seen as a ‘nice to have’ in the face of a crisis – it remains an essential requirement. How we respond to this pandemic will shape our society for generations to come. I would encourage organisations to leverage Diversity & Inclusion as an accelerator to go from surviving to thriving.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced?
Like many, I’ve had to overcome stereotypical judgments levied at me. I have shared many stories in my #1 bestselling book ‘Closing the Gap – 5 Steps to Creating an Inclusive Culture’. These stories include being asked ‘What does your husband do?’ when being interviewed for a business award. I’ve been told, ‘Well Teresa, the boys are older than you and that’s why they are paid more’ during salary discussions. But I haven’t let these hold me back – if anything they’ve made me more determined to be the change I want to see in the world.
In terms of the COVID-19 Pandemic although on the face of it ‘we’re all in this together’ evidence shows that not everyone will be experiencing the crisis in the same way, what are your views?
COVID-19 has impacted all our lives. Socio-economic factors including living conditions, access to health and medical care are just some elements which have shone an even brighter light on inequality issues. Indications show that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected black, Asian and minority ethnic people and their communities. Our learning from past pandemics suggests that women are often the ones who absorb carer responsibilities sometimes at a cost to themselves.
The recession of 2008 was reported to be felt heavily by men in terms of job losses. We are already starting to see a worrying trend of redundancies in what was believed to be solid and high growth industries.
Cuts to public spending previously meant lower wages for many public sector employees and/or others occupying what has previously been considered unskilled/low paid roles. However, in recent weeks we have seen these potentially undervalued roles becoming the backbone of our nation. ‘key workers’ have selflessly saved lives, care for loved ones and to keep us supplied with food and medical supplies to name but a few.
Whilst we might all be experiencing the tempestuous sea that could be described as Covid19 we are most definitely not in the same boat.
Some boats are riding the waves whilst the boats for others were never constructed to withstand such a storm – they are having to adjust their rigging, change tac and work with their crew to plot a new course.
How can organisations adopt a more inclusive approach?
Lockdown measures were announced on 23 March by the UK Government and whilst we have seen easing in some of the restrictions, in reality, there’s a long way to go before we are able to go about our daily lives uninterrupted.
Companies have been forced to adopt new ways of working in order to survive.
If we focus on flexible working as an example there are only 11% of roles advertised as being open to flexibility, and typically these roles are in lower-paid bracket.
In recent weeks, many organisations have had no choice but to rapidly adapt their business.
Where perhaps there have been years of previous resistance believing that it wasn’t possible for employees to work productively from home, the realisation is, that for many, this is the only way for business survival (although of course not all roles can be performed remotely).
It should also be remembered that at present people are not ‘working from home’ they are at home, during a crisis, trying to work and for many balancing carer responsibilities.
Why should business leaders embrace Diversity & Inclusion?
Forward-thinking companies that put people first will succeed and outperform those who continue to put profits over people.
Now is not the time to side-line Diversity & Inclusion.
Many employees will have reflected upon their lives in the broader sense during this time.
They may question if they even want to return to work. Do they feel safe, do they feel valued, does the company treat them with respect and dignity?
Companies that put their people at the heart of an organisation, companies who engage and motivate their people during this time, companies who create an inclusive workplace culture that takes into account the impact this crisis has on different employee groups will stand a greater chance of survival.
Leaders and HR practitioners have a choice – reinstate antiquated people practices that perpetuate a downward spiral or create a new reality where everyone can thrive
Diversity & Inclusion is not a nice to have – it’s a business imperative.
Your book ‘Closing the Gap: 5 steps to creating an Inclusive Culture’ was highly commended at the 2020 Business Book awards for an exceptional book that promotes diversity, what does it cover?
Closing the Gap provides a simple yet transformational step-by-step guide to support Board Directors and their Leadership Teams with a clear path to follow enabling them to take Inclusion and Diversity off the ‘too difficult’ pile and move forward with their inclusivity journey with confidence.
The book covers:
Taking stock of their current situation and establishing the truth in relation to their Diversity and Inclusion position
Raising awareness of why Diversity and Inclusion is important to gaining a competitive advantage and being clear on what needs to change
Inspiring and involving all stakeholders to recognise and value unique differences, to become ambassadors for others and feel involved in the inclusion journey
Building for the future, breaking with tradition to improve and sustain talent attraction and retention
Embedding positive inclusion practices so that they sit at the heart of the organisation and form part of the organisation’s DNA
Now is the time to integrate Diversity and Inclusion into your organisation and Closing the Gap provides a clear framework to enable you to move forward on this journey with confidence.