July 26, 2022

How can sustainability-focused innovation create a more inclusive society?

There’s no doubt that business and political leaders are under increasing pressure to build a net zero future. As we move towards the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), and as the effects of climate change become more apparent, the question is, how can we go one step further to ensure that future is not only sustainable, but also inclusive? 

I was privileged to join Jessica O’Neal, Diversity Champion and Climate Studio Lead at Deloitte Ventures, and Brigid Charmant, Head of UK Small and Medium Business and Senior Area Vice President of Salesforce, in a panel discussion where we considered how we can approach sustainability and inclusion together. 

Inclusivity is a broad subject. In a pure sense, it means that everyone can contribute and reach their potential regardless of their background, identity or circumstance. The world has changed a great deal in terms of inclusivity from when I started work over 20 years ago, and continues to make great strides, but there’s still much more work to do. 

A commitment to inclusivity conjures the idea of how we can harness the talent that we have and to recognise the different kinds of skills – this is particularly important across large, global organisations like Capita. Collaboration is key to ensure individuals have access to the necessary tools and services to achieve, no matter where they are situated, but also, especially during these challenging times, helping mental health. With lifestyle patterns having been so disrupted by the pandemic, individuals may be working in a different setting – often remotely -  and needing support and guidance that isn’t as easily accessible as it would be in a shared team space.

Empowering colleagues to be agents for change

In our panel session we agreed that inclusivity is also about having a voice, being heard and being an agent for change. This helps to foster a sense of belonging where colleagues are encouraged and nurtured, growing as the organisation evolves and being more engaged in their work. This helps people to develop a greater sense of well-being in their lives which spills over into other aspects outside of work. Ultimately, they are more likely to stay longer with their employer and recommend the company to others as being a great place to work.

Collaboration is key 

We also considered the relationship between inclusivity and diversity, and that these often go hand in hand  - by recognising each other's differences you can enable a wide range of perspectives through collaboration in decision-making, project management and interaction with clients. 

Diverse working environments harness visible and non-visible factors which could be characteristics such as background, culture, personality, work-style, accent, or language. Understanding that each person is different, with their own individual needs, values and perspective, promotes opportunity and increases diversity and inclusivity.

In the panel session I share some of the initiatives that we at Capita have put in place, how we collaborate across boundaries and make sure that individuals have access to the tools and services they need to be successful. 

I also talk about a subject closer to home, my youngest son Benjamin, who is non-verbal, to reinforce the point that not only is not every disability visible, but that people can collaborate through other means, not just words, and still contribute to society. 

Watch the webinar https://event.on24.com/wcc/r/3380134/19B25457C27EA7C6947D11A0D4923A5D?partnerref=capita   

Author: Simon Chapman, Chief Technology Officer, Capita

Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash