On Tuesday 10 September, KvinnoKapital, in partnership with T. Rowe Price, arranged a lunch discussion on the theme of the Intersectional Nature of Diversity and the value of taking a holistic approach to diversity and inclusion.
T. Rowe Price arranged a panel of three highly engaging speakers with different perspectives.
Elizabeth Uviebinene, Speaker and co-author of the aptly named ‘black girl bible’, Slay in Your Lane, was represented by Julie Hutchinson, Managing Director at and Skills & Employment Director at the charity ELBA- at East London Business Alliance, and Managing Director of its business subsidiary, London Works.
Stina Powell a researcher on Gender and Equality within institutions at SLU in Uppsala, provided her academic perspective on equity and inclusion.
And Ursula Nyquist, Behavioural Coach from Amazing Leaders, based in Stockholm provided interesting input from a coach perspective.
The discussion was facilitated by Nataline Terry, Head of Marketing at T. Rowe Price who kicked off the conversation with some of her reflections on the topic.
Within this theme, the panel discussed an intersectional* perspective on gender equality, the importance of broader thinking when it comes to personal development and finally how, as female role models, we can all help to drive organisations toward more diverse perspectives.
A definition of intersectionality
Nataline first asked each panellist for their interpretation of Intersectionality and their approach to it.
Stina stressed that intersectionality does not only refers to gender. Gender might be the most advanced area where many things have been fixed and that intersectionality today refers even more to people being oppressed and disadvantaged due to their ethnicity, age and disabilities for example.
The gender agenda has been driven by a feminist movement consisting mainly of white women, excluding other groups and that we need to be aware of all aspects of intersectionality.
Ursula agreed and also raised the need for inclusion and cooperation to avoid uncertainty which in turn fuels fear whether this related to gender, disabilities or other challenges. She stressed the importance of emotional capital, empathy and trust to counter this development.
Julie highlighted that these are exciting times, a time of discovery and change. The gender-agenda is at a tipping-point but that we need to continue pushing forward. This development can serve as an example also in other areas, like for instance ethnicity, and she mentioned examples on how her organisation is teaching companies in London how to avoid intersectionality and leverage the whole talent pool.
The pros & cons of meritocracy
The panel then discussed the concept of meritocracy, where people are selected based on merits, and whether that works.
Stina said that from an academic perspective, this model poses some problems as it assumes that everyone has the starting point and follows the same route whereas in real life merit cumulates differently and unevenly and we have personal biases. However, the panel agreed that it’s probably the best model at hand, we need to be aware of its flaws and our own intrinsic biases when we judge someone’s merits. And we must not forget how valuable it is to have different perspectives and diversity of thoughts in a working group.
Where are we heading?
Finally, Nataline asked the panel what is needed to make progress?
And the collective answer was courage, corporate culture and broader engagement
Ursula highlighted how important it is to have phycological safety in the organisation resulting in trust and creativity. We need to develop empathy and ask ourselves what kind of role models we want to be.
Julie added that we need to engage the men that are leading the development to speed up progress.
Stina agreed and pointed out that taking a stance can be riskier for women, being the disadvantaged party, and becoming the gender lady “Genus-tanten”. Men, on the contrary, can become real heroes. “Allies representation” is trendy – and valuable.
Corporate culture is an important aspect too. Shareholder value is no longer enough to attract the best talent, and we can see a significant shift towards value-driven organisations, which also tend to be more progressive. There is hope!
Amazing Leaders: “Be more interested than interesting”
Following questions from the audience, Ursula presented a behavioural model and tools for creating a secure and empathic environment and be a courageous leader.
Often, we project negative feelings on others when we don’t agree with – rather than discussing the actual problem. We jump to conclusions about other persons, look for evidence to confirm the conclusions, which affects our behaviour and of course the response of others – and so it continues.
We need to listen to connect and try to be more interested than interesting. To help us open up to others, Amazing Leaders work with the Green Lens, an approach to change conclusions. Participants received a practical summary card to remember the points of the Green Lens, together with Elizabeth Uviebinen’s ‘black girl bible’, Slay in Your Lane. Both much appreciated.
Thank you all for a meaningful and well-organised event!
If you are interested in receiving a copy of Elizabeth Uviebinen’s book or any other information from the event, please email info@Kvinnokapital.com
*Definition: Intersectionality is a branch of feminist research and activism which identifies how different aspects of social and political discrimination overlap with gender. Intersectionality highlights that there are various forms of social stratification, such as class, race, sexual orientation, age, religion, creed, disability and gender of all forms which are included in the consideration exclusion and inequality as well as their social and cultural effects.