Today’s DIVE In blog is all about how engagement from the majority can contribute to a more diversified workplace. Karen Brown, Director of Engineering, and Meinir Childs, Director of Supply Chain, with Sainsbury’s are both successful female leaders in the tech and supply chain field. They value the importance of inclusion and diversity and kindly shared their insights with us, including why it is important to have allies and the support of everyone to achieve diversity. You can watch their conversation in this Blue Yonder Live session.
What does diversity mean to you?
[Meinir] To me, diversity is a fact and inclusion is a choice. It is about having the curiosity to go and unearth those facts, the empathy to value differences, and the energy and passion to create environments where people can be themselves and belong. In a workplace context, especially in the supply chain, we have come a long way and I am proud that my leadership team is already gender balanced. There is still some work in Logistics across the Industry and in Sainsbury’s, but we are really committed to achieving more.
[Karen] It is for me about empowering people, respecting them and appreciating what makes them different. That can be about gender but also age, ethnicity, religion, disability, and sexual orientation. Diversity allows the exploration of those differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. The way people feel about being different while feeling included is a brilliant place to start engaging in conversation. I am glad to work for a company that is eager to open up the conversation.
What actions does Sainsbury’s take to support and empower women?
[Karen] We are super lucky to have two brilliant, internal networks focused on trying to drive diversity and inclusion. The “Women in Tech” network, led by Helen Hunter, brings together women from all different layers of the company, ally engagement and has really helped drive the statistics of women in tech. Now, we have 20% more women in leadership teams at Sainsbury’s tech. And our “Jumpstart” program offers a tech rotation program that introduces careers in technology to diverse candidates at a very early stage in their career.
We also have the Inspire Network lead by Jim Brown. It is brilliant to have a man leading this network, which is about how we all engage, inspire, and include; it allows people of all genders to show up and make a valuable contribution to the team that they work in, and allows us to connect with the community in which we serve. We are proud of our statistics: 50% of our Operating Board is now women and 53% of our colleagues are women.
What do you do to engage the majority and why is it important?
[Meinir] We have the ambition to be the UK’s most inclusive retailer for colleagues and customers. The networks Karen mentioned have helped drive representation across our organization; however, to fully deliver against our ambition, we need continuous support from the majority.
From a gender perspective, we need to invite more men into the conversation. Research has shown that when you involve men in those conversations, 96% of organizations see progress in this space, compared to 30% when they are not. Here at Sainsbury’s we continue to progress with asking men to listen more to women’s perspective and, for this to work, we regularly provide unconscious bias training. We are committed to building inclusive leaders and giving them the appropriate toolkit to drive the conversation every day.
Overall, we are convinced that we need to keep connecting with the majority to ask for their support to drive change not only in our organization but across society.
Where are the biggest obstacles today at the workplace?
[Karen] Conversations needs to start much earlier – and with our children. It is important to have a conscious conversation with the next generation in early education, making sure that opportunities are available to everyone to close those gaps.
[Meinir] The three obstacles that we need to overcome are apathy, fear, and ignorance. If we can tackle those three, we can accelerate towards our ambitions. We have a responsibility to the future generations, and we should all play our part accordingly.
Watch Blue Yonder’s recent LinkedIn Live session with Meinir Childs and Karen Brown