Lindsey Hoskins is the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Lead at Corndel.
Having already worked for us for four and a half years, Lindsey is responsible for developing and implementing EDI strategy across the whole of Corndel. When she’s not busy supporting Corndel on its EDI journey, Lindsey also fulfils the role of Transformation Project Lead. We were delighted to talk to her about what Corndel is doing for EDI internally and how our leadership programmes can help support EDI strategies in other organisations.
What is your definition of diversity and what does it mean to you?
My definition of “diversity” is pretty simple – it’s the opposite of “sameness”! This means embracing, celebrating and encouraging difference in as many ways as possible. This means that people’s individuality is important, and so part of my role is to ensure that we have a broad mix of people who all feel that Corndel is a place they are comfortable being themselves.
What influenced your thinking around EDI and motivated you to become an advocate for change?
Even as a child fairness was really important to me and as I’ve got older I have also wanted to make a positive difference in whatever I do in life, whether at work or any other aspect. This is something that Corndel has given me a platform to do in my EDI role – a chance to enact meaningful change and try to make the world a better place.
How far along the EDI journey is Corndel?
From the very start I believe we were in a great position, thanks to the positive company ethos and the values upon which we were founded. Of course, there are still a lot of areas where we can do more, but our company culture will help us achieve what is needed. There is a great appetite for EDI throughout the company, as shown from the numbers engaging with events and training, and this is spread through all departments of the business which is fantastic to see. We also have good engagement and support in EDI initiatives from the Senior Leadership Team, which I see as vital to for the success of our EDI strategy. We are working towards EDI being ingrained into everything we do, and it will only be possible with Senior Management leading on this.
Why is EDI now a focus at Corndel?
EDI has always been important here, then in 2020 in the wake of the murder of George Floyd employees wanted the business to make a stand, commit to being an anti-racist organisation and become more active in helping to eradicate inequality. The business listened and responded so from that point onwards we have had a strategic approach to EDI.
Like many organisations, Corndel wants to make sure everybody feels comfortable being themselves and that they have the opportunity to develop and thrive and we also realise these things are vital to create a happy and productive working environment which in turn leads to better recruitment and retention of staff. When looking for work, people are taking more interest in what the company culture is like as they want to ensure they will belong, so this is something we try to focus on. In order to make sure Corndel achieves these things EDI has to be a focus, we need to measure how well we are attracting and retaining people, identifying if there are any gaps or negative trends and then implementing measures to make improvements. After all, one of our core values is ‘Excellence’ which is embodied in the people we attract – we don’t want to miss out on the brightest talent that is out there or lose great people who are already employed.
It’s also important to point out that new starters at Corndel receive an EDI induction and access to training in their first few weeks, this is to continue the cycle of improvement, we want each individual to understand that EDI is at the heart of what we do and empower them to tell us if something could be made better.
What success has Corndel achieved from diversity initiatives?
We’ve recently achieved our Disability Confident Employer status, which we’re really proud about. This is a government initiative which encourages employers to make improvements in order to recruit and retain more employees with disabilities. To comply, the company must demonstrate the steps they have taken, for example collecting evidence of how they have made policies and processes more accessible and inclusive. We don’t see this as a static process, yes we have achieved the status but we have an action plan containing further improvements we are keen to make over the coming months.
How does Corndel cover EDI in our leadership and management programmes?
All levels of our leadership programs contain some focus on EDI. There are EDI-specific modules, as well as modules containing EDI-related themes. Some examples of EDI content we cover include modules on Equality, Diversity and Unconscious Bias, Sensory Impairment, Ethical and Cultural Leadership, EDI and Belonging, Micro-aggressions and many others.
What does Corndel do externally to support the wider EDI goal?
We try to post about our internal activities on our social media channels so other individuals and businesses can see what we’re doing, and hopefully be inspired by it. If anyone from outside the business wants to discuss what we’re doing, I’m always open to having a chat and keen to build our EDI network. If a client has a particular EDI need we’re always happy to work with them to try to support them in addressing their challenges and meeting their own EDI goals.
What’s your biggest piece of advice for getting started with EDI?
You need to start with your data. Understanding the make-up of your organisation at all levels is fundamental in order to identify the priority areas you need to work on. Look at the demographics of your company, and how they compare to that of your customer base (or the UK population). Ideally, they should be similar, you should aim to represent the people you are working with.
You should also look at your demographics in different teams across the company. Is there a good mix of diversity in all areas, including at different levels of seniority? Are any groups being overlooked? If possible you should also look at progression opportunities – how have different groups of people progressed into new roles and promotions.
Starting with your data helps you to identify where things are working well and where your challenges lie and will start you on the journey to identifying why these things have happened and implementing measures to replicate the positives and address the challenges.
How can we overcome the barriers of a lack of diversity?
Recognising the importance of EDI work and prioritising it as part of the company’s key strategic focus rather than just thinking that it is something you should be doing but not prioritising it will help to improve the business overall. Diversity leads to innovation, belonging and inclusion lead to productivity – once the company makes improvements in these areas, the barriers and gaps to business development will get smaller.
What advice do you have for those who want to be EDI advocates and aren’t sure how to start?
Be brave! See what your company and your partners are already doing, and how you can get involved. If they’re not doing anything, volunteer to start something, no matter how small, it all makes a difference – perhaps a support group, a celebratory event, or a story-telling session.
What would be the long-term consequences of ignoring EDI?
Missing out on all the positives from it! The creativity, the innovation, the attraction of fantastic people. There are many pieces of research available which show us that more diversity and inclusion means more profitability. This means that EDI is vital for well-being in every sense – both the well-being of the staff and the financial health of the company. It really does seem that a happy company is a successful company!
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