Lisa-Nicole Dunne: Diversity and Inclusion – International Women’s Day and Beyond

Guest Feature, Partner Content | Tue 1 Mar | Author – Business & Finance
Pictured: Lisa-Nicole Dunne, Managing Director & Founder, Mantra Strategy

Diversity and Inclusion – International Women’s Day and Beyond, by Lisa-Nicole Dunne, Managing Director & Founder, Mantra Strategy

Done well, inclusion can foster creativity, innovation, and collaboration. It is also a key ingredient in solving a key business pain point; resourcing. Attracting and retaining the best talent in a time of great movement and realignment of values is a critical business issue. Across two recent studies, one at Kemmy Business School and a Microsoft staff survey, an astounding 40% of Irish workers were noted as considering quitting their jobs or changing professions. The implications of this, layered onto the existing strain on workforces being felt across a host of industries as a result of Covid absences, on continuity, quality, growth, service delivery are significant. It stands to reason therefore that, as businesses and employers, new ways of engaging staff and retaining them beyond flexibility and money will need to emerge.  

Being committed to diversity and inclusion is not only right, just and important, it opens up opens up a wider pool of talent to organisations, but really shows teams companies already have that they are part of something that cares about culture, diversity, and community.

Over multiple employee satisfaction and engagement studies and surveys it is noted time and again that belonging, support, autonomy and opportunity are pillars of a robust retention and development strategy. Equality and inclusion programmes offer the chance to address all these. A culture of inclusion helps people to feel supported, included, safe, and creates an environment to speak out and enjoy high performance. Inviting people to engage with cross-functional committees and projects  gives opportunities internally for further advancement in roles, helps people move outside the box we are often put in as employees to show and demonstrate skills diversity. And of course employee wellbeing and feelings of value, potential, succession and development all help contribute to improved productivity, brand value and, in turn, growth, customer excellence and increased return. 

So if everyone wins, why are far more companies not funding this more? Many companies book bias training, or else review the wording on their job descriptions for language changes that can attract a wider pool. Some arrange keynote events internally.  Too often, however, the approach is piecemeal, disconnected, and ancillary. Responsibility sits across several roles, but often is not embedded as a core objective or with key results in this area being intrinsic to the business.

Being committed to diversity and inclusion not only opens up a wider pool of talent to organisations, but really shows teams companies already have that they are part of something that cares about culture, diversity, and community.

In some instances, inclusion is “owned” by talent management, or HR more generally, with some crossover with corporate communications, some input from a cross functional diversity and inclusion committee, potential crossover with engagement and CSR or community teams, and marketing benefits leveraged accidentally.  Many companies are missing the opportunity to create competitive advantage and an employer brand by really integrating a programme of justice, equality, diversity, and inclusion into their fabric. 

Mantra Strategy works with organisations large and small to created an integrated CSR and D+I programme, to help organisations live and breathe their ESG. We work to create a programme of events and engagement initiatives, mapping emotional culture workshops and purpose sessions, backed up with a deep-review of processes, policies (not just in recruitment though these are crucial, at all levels and we need to challenge our own thinking in this area), informal practices of work delegation, assumptions around roles that can be done by who and in what way, recognition, empathy, participation, relationships and engagement, across the entire organisation top down and bottom up.  This level of active engagement with inclusion, regardless of your resources or size and   scale,   will   speak   volumes  to  current   and   prospective   teams,   partners, suppliers, and investors.  It is differentiation. And it matters.

You can kick off your 2022 programme of inclusion and simultaneously support an incredible cause this International Women’s Day, as they work to champion perspectives on progress, and break the biases that impact gender equality and equality  on   the   whole. WorkEqual is a charity that works on the ground providing skills training, CV support, networking, mentoring, confidence building and styling sessions, to help provide women with the opportunity for economic independence, better work, contracts, potential.

Ways to get involved:

Make a donation and provide all your staff and partners with access to a virtual IWD event on the intersectionality of equality. Speakers include Ola Majekodunmi, Lewize McAuley Crothers, Senator Eileen Flynn, Catherine Guy, and more fantastic perspectives. To be part of the IWD event please click here:

Book a bespoke interactive in-company session with Sonya Lennon, to further power your progress. 

Partner with WorkEqual, join Sponsor One4all and other partners Solas and Permanent TSB, and get involved in mentoring or other core activities across 2022.

About the author:

Lisa-Nicole Dunne is  founder  and  MD  of  Mantra  Strategy,  a   boutique  purpose-led strategy and impact consultancy working with organisations large and small on their diversity inclusion and organisational culture strategies to make the biggest impact for their employees and in their communities. She is also chair of WorkEqual’s International Women’s Day campaign.