Derek Bishop


Trust, diversity and inclusion

Date added: 19th Apr 2017
Category: Culture of Diversity

Why is it that topics such as trust and diversity and inclusion come up time and time again when regulators are listing areas identified for improvement

Why are you in business? What was it when you left school that drove you to follow the particular path that you are now on? Maybe you’ve had a portfolio career, maybe you’re following a dream, or perhaps you’ve just found your niche in an area which interests you.

Whatever drove you onto your particular pathway, it’s a fair bet that amongst the career attributes which you listed on your starting CV there wouldn’t have been ‘engenders mistrust’ or ‘exhibits unconscious bias’ or even ‘puts profit before people.’ And I expect that the same would be true for your colleagues as well.

So why is it that topics such as trust and diversity and inclusion come up time and time again when regulators are listing areas identified for improvement? What is it about lack of employee engagement, low productivity and toxic company cultures that regularly appear in the lists of corporate failings? Is it that when we enter business we throw away all our desires to make a positive difference or do we simply become so overwhelmed by the day-to-day that good intentions become submerged in process.

Certainly the lack of drive towards a positive and ethical culture cannot be laid at the door of the regulators. Take the Bank of England for example:

  • On 9 February Mark Carney made a speech entitled reflecting diversity, choosing inclusion in which he linked diversity to better decision-making, better outcomes and trust.
  • On 22 February Minouche Shafik titled her talk in experts we trust as she highlighted the importance of rebuilding trust in experts; commenting that “getting this right is vital for determining whether our futures are shaped by ignorance and narrow-mindedness, or by knowledge and informed debate”.”
  • On to the 21 March and Mark Carney again was making opening remarks to the Banking Standards Board, Worthy of Trust? Law, ethics and culture in banking before on the
  • 31 March Andy Haldane explored how central banks could regain the public’s trust by changing the way in which they communicate.

And that’s just a selection of the talks, reviews and policies which regulators across the board are using to try and help business to deliver positive outcomes.  So why are businesses and their leaders still getting it so wrong? Stories such as United Airlines forcibly ejecting a passenger in favour of their own crew members made headlines but they are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of customer satisfaction failures.

At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what best practice and guidance the regulators try to instil in businesses; unless the CEO and leadership team are fully on board with delivering positive cultures which promote positive outcomes for customers, employees, suppliers and others then nothing is going to change. Perhaps that’s why Parliament’s Business, energy and industrial strategy committee has now recommended “that the FRC be given authority to initiate legal action for breach of section 172 duties.”

Promoting the long-term success and reputation of the business, building relationships with suppliers and customers, acting in the interests of employees should be at the forefront of the CEO and the leadership team’s everyday actions and decisions. When it isn’t then perhaps it’s time that the culture received a good overhaul. Why are you in business? Hopefully it’s to make a positive change.


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