At DSC we have always said we are committed to diversity and equality – which has been absolutely true on the surface. But as we have historically had a very visibly diverse workforce I think that had made us, me as CEO specifically, a bit complacent.
When our Board reviewed our performance under the Governance Code a couple of years ago, we realised that we weren’t as good as we wanted to be. We weren’t living up to our ideals as much as we could and our trustees were clear that we needed to work looking at the gap between what we aspired to and what we needed to do. They began by educating themselves by undertaking diversity and inclusion awareness training out of which they agreed a brand new way of recruiting trustees, which we implemented last year, and which worked incredibly well resulting in a much more inclusive board.
But, truthfully, we were taking it quite slowly. We knew it was important but it was on a list of things to do, and not particularly treated as a priority – more something that we were just getting on with when we could. However, we now realise that this can no longer be on the to-do list for us – it has to be a priority. Both internally and in how we serve you. Virus or no virus we are going to be getting on with this work. And, as you would expect, we will share what we learn, what works and what doesn’t and we will look to you to feedback to us when and where you think we’re failing.
We are also listening to our colleagues about how they want us to move forward and will be implementing their suggestions.
And we will finish what we started internally. At the end of last year we bought all of our leadership team a copy of White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo and the plan was to discuss it at a leadership team meeting talking about what we learned and how we could develop and change. That meeting got cancelled because of Coronavirus and many of our staff were furloughed. However, we are now in a position to bring them back and within the next 3 weeks there will be a leadership team meeting where the sole conversation will be this issue and what we need to do at DSC, including whether there are any pay or power gaps. We’ll share what results from that and other work that we undertake as we go along.
We will also be establishing what the broader demographic of our customer base is; actively investigating how well our public offering serves the whole community; if and how we may be excluding people by our use of language or approach; how we can collaborate more proactively with Black and minority groups and ultimately what we can do to improve.
We will not let this moment go. We have a chance to change things. And we will.