How Atos is putting diversity and inclusion at the heart of its business

Third Sector Promotion Atos

Diversity, Equality and Inclusion doesn’t need big teams and big budgets. Every organisation, no matter how big or small, should be putting DE&I at the heart of everything it does. Rachel Edwards, HRBP Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Northern Europe at Atos, and Amar Abbas, chief executive of Youth Action, share how they have implemented DE&I at their organisations and offer tips to get started.

Atos has a Diversity and inclusion strategy that is publicly available on its website, which focuses on eight key pillars:

  1. Inclusive policies and benefits

  2. Employee life cycle

  3. Role models and supporters

  4. Clients and suppliers

  5. Diversity networks

  6. Inclusive leadership

  7. Community Engagement

  8. Monitoring and analytics

Having a strategy is all well and good, but how do you communicate that strategy to your employees to better educate them about diversity and inclusion?

First, make sure it’s not full of acronyms that people won’t understand. Your strategy needs to be clear and accessible to everyone, not just those working specifically in HR or DE&I roles. It also needs to be authentic and demonstrate that the business really does want change. For authenticity, it’s vital to ask employees their opinions and give them a chance to integrate and interact with the process.

At Youth Action, the communication strategy around DE&I focuses on three key areas:

  • Reflect

  • Review

  • Do

Reflect is about offering volunteers and staff, with lived experience, to come together in a safe space to talk about what’s important to them and to build their confidence.

The review phase is where the organisation reviews its policies and procedures, with lived experience at its core, providing a step change process and stakeholder engagement.

Do is all about setting KPIs and implementation of the strategy as well as room for ongoing review.

Empowering employees to become allies

Atos wanted employees to feel like they could relate to and integrate with the strategy, so it introduced the We are Allies programme. This programme enables employees to become advocates of equality and look to take action in the workplace or community to support underrepresented groups. They play an important role in embedding an inclusive culture within the organisation.

The allies are expected to act on four key commitments:

  1. Sign the Allies Pledge

  2. Embed DE&I into their personal goals via objectives and individual development plans

  3. Share learning on DE&I with colleagues, family and friends

  4. Continually learn about different areas of DE&I

“At Atos, it’s really important that a DE&I strategy is visible to your employees so that they can understand the real actions that are being taken by the organisation,” said Rachel Edwards, HRBP Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Northern Europe at Atos. “Rather than viewing DE&I as a concept, make it tangible for employees by sharing what you’re doing to address DE&I and the steps you’re taking.”

Youth Action established a Lived Experience Panel, whose members received training to empower them to help review the organisation’s strategy, KPIs and actions taken, and to report back to the board.

Monitoring and analytics are not the end but the beginning of your strategy

Measuring progress and impact is crucial, but it shouldn’t just come at the end of your strategy – rather, at the beginning too, because what gets measured gets done. A DE&I strategy is no different from any other business strategy in that you set yourself objectives that you measure progress against.

Delving into your data can help you assess where you currently are in terms of gender pay gaps or what proportion of your workforce is female and whether that tails off when it gets to more senior roles. Use your data to inform your decisions around diversity.

Youth Action didn’t want DE&I to be a special project, but rather as part of its normal business of work. Therefore it set regular, standardised KPI reporting, which was about embedding and normalising DE&I into its work.

Holding the business to account

Once you’ve set your objectives and how you’re going to measure progress against them, it’s crucial to be held to account. At Atos, the executive board meets with the DE&I lead every six weeks to talk through the progress being made and how far there still is to go.

Being held to account also ensures that employees are continually engaged and that the DE&I team is staying on track.

Another way to stay accountable is to challenge yourself by looking at best practice from other organisations, entering awards and learning from feedback in areas that need improvement.

Find the gaps and address them

Part of an important DE&I strategy is covering all the areas that create diversity and inclusion in your business, but it also has the understanding that there are other areas of your business that you may need to put specific focus on.

One of the areas Atos is focusing on is providing a fair and equal working environment for ethnic minority employees. The way it is addressing this is through an Ethnicity Action Pledge, which looks at getting proportional representation at senior levels of people from ethnic minorities and takes into account things such as employee life cycle and development plans.

Celebrate how far you’ve come

Take the chance to reflect and celebrate how far you’ve come. A key skill for DE&I leads is resilience, because it can take a long time to make change happen. An award or accreditation can help with motivation and celebrating your achievements as it recognises the speed at which you have got to where you are.

Youth Action has won national awards, which has helped to recognise the achievements of everyone at the organisation. It’s also really important to them to share and pass on best practices both locally and internationally.

Find out more about how Atos is addressing diversity and inclusion within its organisation.

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