Women Supporting Women: Inclusion Means Everyone, Everyday

09 NOV 2018

Sally Boyle, EMEA head of Human Capital Management at Goldman Sachs, speaks about the importance of inclusion at work, as part of our Women Supporting Women blog series.

By Sally Boyle

As we come out of a hugely successful series of events marking black history month at Goldman Sachs in London, I thought it would be timely to discuss the importance of inclusion. I feel passionately about diversity and inclusion so I spend a significant part of my time focused on creating an inclusive environment – not just in my day job but also as part of being a people manager, my roles on the firm’s diversity committees and as co-sponsor of our LGBT+ network.

This year saw the new gender pay gap figures published for the first time by UK businesses as well as the impact of the #Metoo movement. This has led to a huge amount of fresh discussion about women and diversity at work. This dialogue presents a real opportunity for us all to make a difference for women and diverse professionals at work. 

Having worked in the city for over 30 years, one of my key observations is that exclusion is usually unintentional and subtle. I started my career in male dominated law firms where assumptions were readily made about what women may want, particularly after having children. It can be as simple as the language we use, the issues we talk about at work and the people we spend time with. It takes discipline and personal accountability to make sure we are being inclusive. Finding our blind spots is key to driving change.

Here are three practical tips to help individuals be more inclusive:

Less talk and more action

It is not enough to simply say that you are inclusive – being inclusive is the action that you take. These actions send signals that everyone can be their whole selves at work and that successful leaders are inclusive. A great example of this at our firm is our LGBT+ Ally role, where senior leaders commit to actively support the LGBT+ community with visible flags on their desk and by participating in a range of activities with our people and clients such as the affinity network-led ‘Straight Talks’ workshop on the professional experiences of LGBT colleagues. I feel privileged to be an Ally and I actively look for opportunities to champion the efforts of the network, take time to understand their concerns and share and learn best practices. You can support inclusion and learn more by simply going to a diversity event or, even better, by hosting one.

Make diversity and inclusion about everyone, everyday

We believe that creating an inclusive environment is the responsibility of everyone at the firm – from senior leaders setting the tone, to managers leading meetings, to peers chatting on the desk. Inclusion is simple – it involves everyone, everyday. It is about respect and treating people fairly, so don’t underestimate the power of listening well and choosing words with care. Spend time this week observing and reflect - what culture are you creating within your team?

Recognise that small things matter

Have you ever thought about who you spend time with? Who gets regular 1:1 meetings and who is more often ‘bumped’ to next month? Who have you had coffee with this quarter? Is there a pattern and, as a result, individuals or even a group of people who you hear from less often? After your next meeting, take a moment to reflect on who spoke, and more importantly, who was not heard? These simple self-reflective questions can be very powerful and can lead you to change your behaviours to be more inclusive.


More from this series:
Women Supporting Women: Advice to Women – The Power of Networking
Women Supporting Women: Advice to Women – Be Empowered by Feedback
Women Supporting Women: Advice to Women Starting Their Careers
Women Supporting Women:  Advice to Women on Resilience