The time is now for courageous conversations to create workplace equality

We see that being a well, diverse, inclusive and equal organisation can drive better engagement, productivity and decision making and ultimately that’s good for business and people. Achieving this, however, is not always straightforward.  

The time is now for courageous conversations to create workplace equality

The final day of REBA’s Employee Wellbeing Congress drew together the overarching themes from the previous three days through a series of video roundtables, which brought together reward professionals from across the country to discuss the key topics. It also saw an extended panel debate on the need to drive better equality across reward and benefits.

The opening panel session included Dawid Konotey-Ahulu, founder at Redington; Poppy Jaman OBE, CEO at City Mental Health Alliance; Claire Yule, group head of compensation & benefits at Wood Plc; Nikki Roche, senior international benefits consultant and UK neurodiversity lead at Siemens; and was chaired by REBA’s content director Maggie Williams.

In her opening address Williams explained the reason behind debating the issue of workplace equality: “The effect of inequality on society, individuals and the workplace has been laid bare this year, hard-won progress in gender pay equality has been hard hit by COVID-19 and its ripple effects, and we’ve seen ethnicity pay gap reporting stall.

“Many of our traditional employee benefits and the way they are delivered also relate back to a time when the workplace and society was very different to the one that we live in today or the one that we want for the future,” she said.

The panel covered an array of issues surrounding equality including the biases that remain, particularly in insured benefits, where clauses are often based on traditional family arrangements. Other examples given were around the language used by vendors which again can often be very traditional and therefore exclude whole cohorts of employees.

Yet the biggest and most important message to come from the panel debate was the need to have courageous conversations.

Konotey-Ahulu highlighted that black people are still heavily marginalised and at every stage of their lives are disadvantaged. He argued that businesses need to take a good hard look in the mirror at their organisation and stop making excuses for a lack of diversity, particularly in leadership roles.

“We need to have courageous conversations…the time is now for this type of conversation,” said Konotey-Ahulu.

This is the challenge for all reward and employee benefits professionals as we strive to create equal, fair and well organisations.

If you missed any of the sessions from this year's Employee Wellbeing Congress you can catch up by viewing the video library on the Congress platform

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