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Practical Advice on Advancing Diversity and Inclusion

in the Workplace with Sacha De Klerk


Last week we have the pleasure of hosting Sacha De Klerk, Head of Diversity and Inclusion for Norton Rose Fulbright for our webinar on Diversity and Inclusion. If you didn’t see it, it’s not too late! Here’s a rundown of what took place:

What was Sacha’s first exposure to organizational diversity?

It was at a discrimination workshop, outlining all the things you shouldn’t say or shouldn’t do. It was about compliance, rather than the opportunity to grow.

Why aren’t we making progress?

It’s all about the approach–we’re stuck on the stick and forgetting about the carrot.

Diversity training is often coupled with sexual harassment training. These types of training often don’t change behaviours, they just tell people what will happen when they disobey.

Some Problems with the System:
  • Diversity management often excludes the most influential demographic – white men. They are often left feeling that diversity is not about them, and yet without them, we cannot make progress.
  • The myth of the meritocracy – people who work hard are supposed to rise to the top – but this isn’t true at all. If there were true, we wouldn’t see so much unfairness today.
  • Change doesn’t happen without urgency. Diversity doesn’t feel like a burning issue to senior leadership and managers, and sometimes it gets pushed to the backburner.
  • Diversity is not integrated into business decisions.
  • Leadership are ticking boxes – they don’t truly understand the benefits and why they should. The CEO must take ownership and drive accountability.
Then Vs. Now:

The business case is evolving:

Then: diversity used to be important cause workplace needed to represent society.

Now: many organizations are global and diversity is a business reality for organizational effectiveness both internally and externally.

Then: It was “the right thing” to do.

Now: It’s proven that diverse teams outperform non-diverse teams.

Some Tips & Suggestions to Consider
  • Use technology and data to identify problems and measure progress
    • But make sure you get meaningful information and not just platforms for the sake of platforms
  • This needs to be a business responsibility, not just an HR responsibility, owned by all leaders
  • Old rules don’t always apply
  • We need to link to organizational structure and accountability
  • Create accountability for the decisions leaders make, by maintaining ratios and see how they’re making decisions.
    • E.g. Make first round of job applications gender-blind. Compare those scores with the final decisions at the end to reveal any biases in the process.
  • Get the conversation going. Get people talking. The more normal conversations feel about differences and diversities and behaviours, the more often they’ll take place, and the more positive change can be made.
  • Get people together and list “Elephant in the room topics” from the media, experiences, books, etc. They talk in small circles about their opinions, advice, etc. Normalize speaking about these things.
  • There are so many ways to learn about this topic in non-traditional ways to supplement or replace traditional training methods. Have fun with it.


Diversity can be described as a wicked problem, and wicked problems have no simple solutions. But evolving our approach and trying lots of different things is really important because we need to try a lot of different things and then try something else, keep it fun, keep it relevant to our organizations.

Thanks to Sacha De Klerk for speaking for speaking to us about diversity and inclusion and if you want to watch a recording of this session and download the slides, you can find it here.

Also,  stay tuned for our next webinar: The Evolution of Employee Voice – is your employee feedback strategy keeping up with the times?