Richard McKenna, director of Inclusive Employers, told conference delegates: “Don’t panic about getting things wrong. We’re human and we will get things wrong. We are not experts in everything – if something feels clumsy to someone else, then let’s talk about it.
“If we don’t put something out there, even if we get it wrong, then we’re never going to change.”
Delegates were also reminded to ensure that the diversity message is spread throughout the company, amid concerns from some that while senior leaders might champion inclusivity, the message can be lost at a middle-management level.
Sean Russell, director of consultancy getoutstayout.org.uk, said: “With middle managers there’s a conversation about how they are supported, and making sure everyone is educated.
“Empower middle managers, don’t just dump policy on them”, he added.
Rachel Williams, diversity and inclusion lead at the House of Lords, added that it was important to include middle managers in the conversations. “You need to encourage everyone to be a part of it. At the House of Lords everyone has a diversity and inclusion objective in their appraisals, so everyone has to focus on it”.
McKenna added: “You need to make it clear that it’s not about asking middle managers to do more. We need to be saying to them that this is something to make your life easier.”
Meanwhile, Terry Reed, trustee of the Gender Identity Research and Education Society, urged companies to remember the “T” in LGBT, highlighting that 1% of the UK population is estimated to be transgender: “That’s about 650,000 – a significant number of people.”