31 MAY 2019

Women Supporting Women: Diversity and Inclusion

Nishi Somaiya, a partner in our Securities Division, reflects on the importance of diversity and inclusion following her recent keynote at the Women of the Square Mile conference in London.

By Nishi Somaiya

31 May 2019

We are all accountable for diversity aspirations and inclusive cultures.  Inclusion is simple: it’s about everyone, every day.

This month I had the privilege of speaking at the Women of the Square Mile conference, a unique event for women in finance. During my keynote presentation I shared my perspective on how everyone is accountable for the advancement of diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

This is a topic of great importance to me, not just because of my own experiences, but because I believe that we are in a period of time when meaningful and lasting change can be achieved.

From the #metoo campaign through to the transparency created by the UK Gender Pay Gap reporting, the energy and dialogue around gender equality has never been more prevalent. At Goldman Sachs, this conversation spread across our own organisation and led to the re-formation of both our Global and European Diversity Committees – forums that I am proud to be a member of.  One thing we quickly identified was the need to drive accountability at all levels within the organisation.

Anyone close to the topic of gender equality, diversity and inclusion knows that there are many hurdles to overcome.  Critically, ownership and accountability for the problem is often laid at the feet of policy makers, governments, industry leaders.  It’s true, they absolutely have a role to play, but so do each of us.

So, what drives accountability? Here are my thoughts…

1. Small behaviours add up to meaningful impact – be mindful of who you spend time with, who do you make time for in your diary, who do you go for coffee with, whose ideas do you endorse?

2. Share your stories and your experiences – be a “real” model for others.  Be transparent about your experiences – how certain things make you feel even if the other person did not intend it; share what your life experiences have taught you about yourself and how they have shaped you.

3. Don’t be a bystander, lead by example – you can endorse someone’s idea, invite someone into a discussion, you can call out inappropriate banter or suggest a topic of conversation be changed to be inclusive of others.  It is people that create cultures so create one that enables people to be their authentic selves.

Taking accountability for the progress of diversity and inclusion is an action. It requires us to reflect daily on our own power and influence and to act.

We absolutely need strategic direction and leadership but for it to be sustainable, it needs to become part of the culture and people make culture. Regardless of your role, level, tenure or experience, we all have a part to play in the advancement of our people and creation of an inclusive culture.

So, I challenge you to ask yourself, what can I do daily to be more accountable, exercise my influence and contribute to ensuring everyone has the opportunity and tools to foster a diverse and inclusive environment?
 

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

Women Supporting Women: Make Gender Equality an Economic Imperative