Diversity and inclusion, views from the industry: Sumaira Latif company accessibility leader, Procter and Gamble

Date : 17 November 2020

Have there been any significant D&I changes in the last couple of years?

We have seen real change in our disability inclusion strategy. Top senior leaders have taken a very intentional interest and made an effort to understand what they need to be doing to make change happen. Moreover, any offices being built are now totally accessible, and existing buildings are being adapted to ensure they are inclusive for everyone, for example the front door of our US office was removed and replaced with an automatic door so everyone can get in.

We’re also looking at our advertising. We’re developing adverts with subtitles for the hard of hearing, and ads with audio description for blind customers. We’ve worked closely with broadcasters to make this happen and we’re proud that our communications are now so much more meaningful for our disabled community.

Have you got any examples of how inclusive thinking relates to business success?

My inspiration comes from Apple, who put accessibility at the heart of the company. An iPhone can talk to you if you’re blind and the text can enlarge if you’ve got bad eyesight. Specific settings on an iPhone cater to every group, driving accessibility and inclusivity.

Now, 86% of disabled people own an iPhone. If Apple can do it, why can’t we?

What are your key I&D elements?

One of the enablers to ‘Be Yourself, Be Valued, Belong’ is our Inclusion ambassador network ‘#JustBe’. #JustBe is a network of 100 200 volunteer Inclusion ambassadors. These people are passionate change makers who drive inclusion at all levels of the business. Our Inclusion ambassador network has opened up Inclusion as a topic for all parts of our business to embrace, in particular it has been especially good for supply chain, where #JustBe ambassadors are raising awareness of what it means to be Inclusive and driving change locally.

Metrics and analytics are also key to driving our I&D strategy. Measuring company statistics at different levels, functions and locations provides the understanding we need to continue to facilitate change across gender, ethnicity and multi-generation metrics. We run an engagement survey every six months – and we’re seeing significant improvement throughout the business when it comes to our Inclusion and Belonging scores. There’s still a long way to go – but being aware of the key figures is the place to start.

How have you extended your I&D strategy beyond gender?

Our focus has shifted to become more inclusive of other areas of diversity such as culture, heritage, LGBTQ and disabilities. We are constantly doing development sessions and deep dives – in mental health, for example – to see how we can improve. Data isn’t always held on all these areas so it can be challenging to understand who we are attracting and how we can improve further. Also, people are often reluctant to talk about ethnicity and nationality, thinking they’re making a mistake by bringing it up. However, there’s nothing wrong with speaking about ethnicity if you’re not meaning to offend – it’s better to ask the question than to not talk about it.