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DIAL Global Summit: Leaders' secrets to unlocking staff 'superpowers' for success

Lianna Brinded
·Head of Yahoo Finance UK
·4-min read

WATCH: Dial Global Virtual Summit — Day 1

Company culture and the workforce — the people — are at the heart of company success.

Decades ago, diversity, inclusion, and belonging (DI&B) was a new concept that — unfairly — was seen as a set of buzzwords and ‘nice to haves’ in some industries, which has led to some firms being slow to progress in growing a diverse workforce.

While executives and workers have been grasping the need for DI&B more, study after study have shown that the more diverse and inclusive businesses are, the more successful they tend to be on multiple levels — including revenue.

But it was really in 2020 where the onset of coronavirus disproportionately affecting marginalised communities, especially for Asians, and the multiple murders of Black men and women at the hands of the US police force created a catalyst for society and companies to tackle systemic racism and creating equality and equity for employees.

READ MORE: DIAL Global Summit: Black Lives Matter highlighted the need for CEOs to speak up

To bring about a level playing field is getting more diverse staff into the workforce, and making them want to stay. And to do this you need to empower them and unlock their superpowers.

DIAL Global Virtual Summit, in partnership with Yahoo Finance owner-Verizon Media (VZ), is a two-day free event where senior leaders from FTSE100 and Fortune 500 Companies discuss diversity, inclusion, and belonging and how these components are essential for successful businesses.

In the panel, entitled ‘2021 Trends Authentic Leadership – Celebrating Super Powers,’ Sandy Gould, vice-president of talent at Verizon Media, Kristen Anderson, chief diversity officer at Barilla, Amina Folarin, global HR director at Oliver Agency, and Adrianne Smith, global director of inclusion and diversity at WPP discussed how their organisations recognise and celebrate individual talent and unlock the 'superpowers' of their teams.

“We’ve gathered some of the world’s most authentic and inspirational leaders to talk openly about hot topics in diversity,” said Leila McKenzie-Delis, CEO and Founder of DIAL Global.

Multiple studies have shown that the more diverse and inclusive businesses are, the more successful they tend to be on multiple levels. Photo: Getty
Multiple studies have shown that the more diverse and inclusive businesses are, the more successful they tend to be on multiple levels. Photo: Getty

“We leave behind the rhetoric and empty talk about diversity and inclusion and talk about what really matters — real actions and real results. This Global Summit allows us all to learn from each other about how to best create change in our workplaces and in our lives. Because in our workplaces, there is much to do, much to heal, much to restore, much to build and a lot more to gain.”

The panel also covered the importance of authentic leadership and the difference this can make in achieving high functioning and top performing teams.

In the discussion, all the senior leaders highlighted the key secrets to unlocking staff superpowers that will lead a business to success.

Anderson works at the family-owned Italian food company Barilla and pointed out that while “D&I never ends,” it’s the focus on inclusion that will make lasting change.

“Differences lead to teams performing better and being more creative but a lot of that is down to inclusion. For example, you can have a diverse group of people at the table but if one person in power goes ‘well it’s my decision, it’s going to have to be my way,’ it doesn’t benefit the team,” she highlighted.

Sandy Gould, vice president of talent at Verizon Media, Kristen Anderson, chief diversity officer at Barilla, Amina Folarin, global HR director at Oliver Agency, and Adrianne Smith, global director of inclusion and diversity at WPP . Photo: DIAL Global/Yahoo Finance
Photo: DIAL Global/Yahoo Finance

Anderson also pointed out that to be more inclusive, you need to pause and not rush decisions.

“The more stressed people get, the less inclusive you are, as it leads to more discrimination and bias. Looking into the future, this is where the focus needs to be on,” she added.

Verizon Media’s Gould, Oliver Agency’s Folarin, and WPP’s Smith also put empathy in the spotlight.

Gould said that being diverse in itself is a superpower because “every day you have to fight and assert your identity when others don’t. It takes a lot of strength and power to provide awareness and paths for others.”

Smith highlighted the power of resilience.

“My superpower shifts and morphs but I would say it is resilience,” said Smith. “Being a global D&I leader, over the last year with COVID and social unrest, I have been able to move and pivot and pass bullets and continue to do so and take blows and come back. Times like these, resilience is a force and gives strengths to others,” said Smith.

Folarin added that the power of resilience and passion drives her to pave the way for others.

“I am passionate about DI&B because I want to look at boardrooms and see other women that look like me and share similar stories. As a child from a single parent family in the Midlands, England, I want to inspire other little girls that they can be a director at a big company,” she said.

“A lot of it comes down to awareness. Awareness of [people’s journeys] as the journey is not the same for everyone and what barriers they face.”

Check out Yahoo Finance UK for more coverage of the DIAL Global Virtual Summit 2021.