What role should corporate affairs play in driving DEI?

At the end of 2020, we challenged ourselves to reengineer our search process and develop practical yet ambitious solutions to build a more diverse and inclusive pool of corporate affairs leadership talent.

Since then, we have had many interesting conversations, run over a hundred searches and looked at survey data from more than 2,500 corporate affairs professionals. We started to capture demographic data to measure our candidate pool at the beginning of 2021.  We have experimented with lots of different ways of producing more diverse shortlists (we’d still like to get rid of CVs).  And at the end of 2022 we published our first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) report.

If you haven’t already read the report, you can find it here and we are continuing to run roundtables throughout February to explore the findings and provide a forum for corporate affairs and HR leaders to exchange ideas and share best practice. If you’d like to join one, please contact Sophie Moore.

One thing that has come up in both our one-to-one conversations and our roundtables is what I believe to be a key question:

“What role should corporate affairs play in driving DEI?”

It would be all too easy to see this as something for HR to fix, and of course they will play a key role. Yet corporate affairs practitioners are uniquely placed to lend their professional skills to driving DEI, be that by building formal and informal networks, creating impactful campaigns, lobbying critical stakeholders and amplifying voices.

These skills can be put to excellent use both in your workplace, and through one of the many initiatives, social enterprises, foundations and mentoring schemes that already exist. You could also join a board, become a trustee or provide sponsorship. Acting as an advocate comes naturally to many corporate affairs leaders and while we know the day job is all-consuming, dedicating time each week or month to look at how you can make a difference is a great first step.

Here are some corporate affairs and DEI leaders we recommend following on LinkedIn if you need some inspiration.

Advita Patel – Business communications and inclusion strategist

Sarah Waddington CBE – Co-founder of Socially Mobile

Emmanuel Ofosu-Appiah – Vice Chair, PRCA Race and Ethnicity Board

Joy Burnford – Author of ‘Don’t fix women’

Andrea Ann Henry – Global director of DEI and No More Long Talk podcast host and speaker on diversity, employee wellbeing and belonging

Steve Collinson – CHRO, Zurich, former Head of Corporate Affairs

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