Diverse leadership | How straight, white men can get their act together and other DE&I lessons

How straight, white men can get their act together and other DE&I lessons

Deep Dive

When it comes to diversity, the path to becoming better leaders, colleagues, people and friends is ever an ongoing one. Suki Sandhu, talent and diversity expert extraordinaire, might just have the fast track to becoming a better ally...

When a young Suki Sandhu first joined recruitment firm Michael Page, he did so as part of the company’s graduate scheme, going on to become a high performer and staying with the firm for nearly four years. Fast forward 19 years and Sandhu has founded (and is CEO of) two companies (Audeliss and INvolve), has been awarded an OBE for ‘services to diversity in business’ and has written a book entitled How to Get Your Act Together: a Judgement-Free Guide to Diversity and Inclusion for Straight White Men (“A practical, digestible and applicable guide that unearths concepts like privilege, anti-racism and provides ways that you can drive change today”).

While the title of Sandhu’s book and the headline of this piece are tongue-in-cheek (there’s nothing inherently wrong with straight, white men, after all!), it calls up an important fact: most boardrooms and C-suite offices are filled with straight, white men. In fact, CIPD has done a couple of research pieces showing that there are more CEOs in the FTSE100 called Dave and Steve than there are women CEOs or ethnic minorities.

But let’s be blunt: we know that straight, white males are not inherently more qualified to lead than all other people groups; which means their success, while it shouldn’t be diminished, is most certainly boosted by societal preference and affirmative action toward them.

In order to combat this incorrect bias, says Sandhu in an exclusive interview with HR Grapevine, we need to weave DE&I throughout our business ethos and strategy, and not view it as an afterthought or add-on.

“The most important thing for driving and actively promoting D&I within business is action”

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