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News & Press: Ireland

Influential panel of CEOs discuss innovative approaches to workplace inclusion

29 November 2019  
Posted by: INvolve
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Member organisations from INvolve Ireland came together on Thursday 24th October at the historic House of Lords for a CEO panel discussion, hosted by Bank of Ireland (BoI), exploring how senior leaders can set the tone from the top to facilitate positive change within their organisations. 

Research has repeatedly shown us that businesses which aim to create an inclusive work environment by nurturing and developing diverse talent outperform businesses that do not. Our panel of influential CEOs shared innovative approaches to workplace inclusion, as well as sharing their own personal experiences of the impact of successful initiatives. The session invited Francesca McDonagh, CEO, BoI,  Sharon McCooey, Head of LinkedIn Ireland and Senior Director International Operations, LinkedIn and Harry Goddard, CEO, Deloitte Ireland to share useful insights and practical tips on the subject at hand.

The discussions ranged from exploring the qualities of an inclusive leader; Harry Goddard saying ‘The Three C’s, Cognisance, Curiosity and Courage’; to where we see the diversity and inclusion conversation being in ten years’ time. While the panel believe the conversation will have progressed, they do say there will still be work to done, especially when it comes to ethnic diversity in Ireland, with Francesca McDonagh saying “I think there will be an increase in the ethnic population because of immigration. We are becoming more of a Global population. I feel very positive about being part of a Global, more cosmopolitan future.”

While the conversation around inclusion in business is crucial, this couldn’t be spoken about without a wider understanding of the treatment of minority groups around the world, leading our panel to discuss how we’ve seen a shift to social conservatism in places across the world. For example, a piece of research from Grupo Gay de Bahia  in 2018 revealed that an LGBT+ person is murdered every 19 hours in Brazil. Francesca McDonagh also shared news about a gay man in Dublin who was the victim of a homophobic attack in October, and spoke about the fact that while we are making progress, it’s crucial that we have zero complacency, and continue to work hard around challenges for LGBT+ people and ethnic minorities. 

It was fantastic to hear such honest and open insights from our panel, and to see how organisations in Ireland and beyond are working to create inclusive environments for their staff. At INvolve, we believe it takes buy-in from the top in order to create meaningful cultural change, so it was great to hear our panel talk about the benefits of using their voice to promote this change, with Harry Goddard sharing some key takeaways for other leaders; “spend time with your people and make visibility a priority. Have direct discussion and interventions when they’re necessary, and help create a space where everybody can participate and belong.” We can’t wait for our next Irish event! 

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