Dame Inga Beale DBE shared personal stories of her teenage years and life ‘in the closet’ during her keynote speech at last night’s Global Good Awards winners’ ceremony, sponsored by Revive.
A key concern for the well-known equality champion is the current trust deficit in society. “The fact is that people don’t trust society is working for the majority,” she told the assembled delegates at BMA House. “And who can blame them when you consider that 70% of the world’s population holds just 3% of global wealth. In fact the world’s wealthiest individuals, who make up just 8.6% of the global population, own nearly 86% of global wealth. Those numbers are really quite shocking.”
While acknowledging that there had been real progress in reducing world poverty, it was the distribution of wealth that was still alarming, she maintained. “Oxfam reported that last year the 26 richest people on earth had the same net worth as the poorest half of the world’s population, some 3.8 billion people,” she highlighted and she believes that it is this inequality in society that is driving the trust deficit.
Beale called for a ‘reset’ to win back the public’s trust, and “create a more effective system fit for our 21st century society”.
The former CEO of Lloyds of London does not believe that CSR programmes are the answer and would happily scrap them, she told delegates. “Not because I want business to stop doing the right thing or have people lose their jobs if they work in these functions. It’s because I believe the entire organisation needs to be built around being sustainable,” she explained.
And inclusion is a huge factor in the sustainable business model. “When you boil it down, this is all about inclusion. This one word encapsulates society’s plea to have a louder voice, to be thought about, and to be involved.”
“Inclusion is the way to build prosperity for all,” she concluded. “Do what you can to embrace inclusion and reverse the trust deficit we have in society.”
Beale has a nine-point plan to help businesses and organisations make a positive difference:
1. Communicate the business case
2. Communicate it’s the right thing to do
3. Communicate that you mean it
4. Create and sign up to charters and codes of conduct
5. Put in place target scorecards and report against them
6. Update your policies to ensure you provide a flexible inclusive workplace
7. Provide training for your employees and up-skill them in how to build diverse teams
8. Encourage employee resource groups with a focus on communities that feel in any way in the minority or not included at work
9. Start discussing the issues and get the difficult topics out on the table.