Leading voices in technology and media came together to discuss how they can better support diversity in the workplace.
Organised by LGBTQ+ staff network Imperial 600, guest speakers were invited to campus to discuss the ways in which technology and media can be utilised to push forward equality in the workplace.
Ian Walmsley, Provost of Imperial, opened the event and gave the attendees a warm welcome. “I have been here just over a year and I have been really inspired by the dedication and commitment of colleagues devoting their time to advancing the cause of diversity across the college.”
He praised Imperial 600 for their increasing success as a network and highlighted how the equality, diversity and inclusion agenda is critical to the future of Imperial’s success.
Thought leadership through disruptive media
The event began with Luke Blair, Imperial’s Vice-President (Communications and Public Affairs), hosting a in-conversation style discussion with Pamela Hutchinson, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Bloomberg LP.
Pamela began by highlighting the importance of active leadership. “What I have seen make a huge difference is the accountability of leaders to drive diversity and inclusion. Very often a lot of organisations do lots of ‘busy work’ around D&I but their leadership isn’t engaged and driving the agenda.”
“We find that having our leaders engaged and held accountable has driven progress in a way that nothing else we could have done would have.” Pamela Hutchinson
Pamela discussed the D&I content Bloomberg was now pushing out to the public. “The idea was to start discussion around D&I, to put some thought leadership out there but also to be disruptive. Its the nature of our organisation to be disruptive and if we are going to be disruptive then we want to create avenues for people to have conversations and share ideas.”
“Intersectionality is something we have been focused on for some time at Bloomberg as no individual is one-dimensional,” Pamela said. Pamela went on to describe the many collaborations between internal staff networks at Bloomberg and how this collaboration has “engaged a much wider audience” than if they had focused on a single diversity strand.
The power of online media platforms
The event continued with a panel discussion hosted by Imperial 600 co-chair Joel McConnell with Ben Hunte, BBC’s LGBT Correspondent, and Pedro Pina, Google’s Vice President of Global Client and Agency Solutions.
Discussing the need for the BBC to have an LGBT Correspondent, Ben highlighted the lack of investigative journalism focused on the LGBT community. “If you look at the media landscape when it comes to LGBT lives, you see a lot of arts and entertainment.” Ben considers himself bringing truth to the public about LGBTQ+ lives, having recently covered issues such as racism at pride festivals and the risks faced by transgender young people and saying “it’s not all rainbows and glitter”.
“People find comfort in getting answers to their anxieties through platforms such as Search and YouTube.” Pedro Pina
Pedro highlighted the power of platforms such as YouTube where many young people come out as LGBTQ+ to their friends and family by creating a video and sharing it with the world. “That creates communities and people can connect together,” he said.
Pedro also picked up on Pamela’s earlier point on how some organisations focus on ‘busy work’ such as events and pride parade involvement, which he considered important but not what should be at the core of a diversity strategy. “It is about everything else, which is the hard work that no-one sees and really has transformative impact.”
Pedro highlighted the importance of an organisation such as Google reflecting the diversity of its users and how that comes through purposeful and thoughtful recruitment. “What I am fighting for everyday is on the fundamentals of diversity for companies which means hiring well, promoting well and doing proper retention work.”
A call to action
Rounding off the night, both Pedro and Ben finished their panel with calls to action for the audience to consider.
Pedro called on the Imperial community to commit to investing their time in diversity initiatives and to show-up, highlighting that the one resource we are all able to give up is time.
Ben echoed Pedro’s call to action and followed with his own, which was to allow people to make mistakes. Ben discussed the need to meet people “on their level” in terms of knowledge and understanding of LGBTQ+ issues as that is the most productive way to keep on progressing change.