Rachel Osikoya, Director, Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Maersk Group answers our d&i Leaders Fast 5 questions.
What brought you to the d&i role and what do you like most about your job?
At university I studied accounting and finance, of which one of the modules focused on social responsibility accounting, i.e. how to account for the 3rd bottom line? Some of the case studies involved companies such as the Body Shop and BT plc reviewing reports on the number of women hired in the company and also on the wider socio-economic impact of companies. This paired with growing up as a mixed race child in a predominantly homogeneous area, sparked my interest in diversity and inclusion within the corporate environment. I was also lucky enough to be given the opportunity by BT plc to move into this area after completing my graduate internship there.
For someone thinking of a career in d&i, or looking to get more involved in their organisations d&i activities, what three skills would you say are the most important to succeed and why?
1. Stakeholder management – relationships are the only way you can effectively create change, especially in the bigger corporate environments.
2. Change management – in particularly communications, patience (change can take a long time and not everyone will be with you on the journey), setting a clear vision on what the benefits of change will be and more micro actions on how to get there.
3. Resilience – as above, not everyone will be with you and you are effectively trying to change 100s of years of norms in some instances.
Tell us about a new d&i initiative you are driving at the moment and it’s aims
Inclusivity – at Maersk we are focusing on a number of initiatives that are focused on building inclusion. As there is no one solution to this we are tackling this at many different angles: HR upskilling, e-learning for all employees, email thought starters for employees, deeper discussions with leaders, micro-actions for leaders. It is still new so only some aspects have been launched but we hope to ignite the right discussions and actions at Maersk.
To date, which d&i related activity you have been involved with has had the biggest positive impact on creating an inclusive culture (can be current or previous company)
Global Maternity, paternity and return to work policy – Although the initiative only impacted a small percentage of our organisation, it created engagement on the topic across the organisation, men and women engaged and provided feedback, we had external media coverage which also helped us to positively shift the perception of our brand. We launched a New Parent’s Portal providing advice and guidance to help manage the transition of becoming a new parent and encouraging line managers to provide the support that is required at this exciting and sometimes challenging time.
The future workplace – what do you see having the biggest impact on the d&i role in the next 5 years and what are you doing now to prepare?
We are already looking into the use of AI, we see the benefits that more automated processes can bring by removing the human element of decision making in the recruitment process there have been cases where companies have said they have seen an increase in the diversity of candidates. However, as with all new technologies we do not know the overall impact and some of the opposing research has found evidence of bias in AI technology, but you could argue that at least we can re-program AI software to remove biases identified, doing the same with humans takes much more time and is far more complex.
Politics – a majority of the rhetoric, at least what we see reported in the media is moving the D&I agenda further back, although it is at least highlighting what some people feel about different races, genders, behaviour etc but were frightened to say before in fear of being labelled with one of the “ists” (racist, sexist etc.). The silver lining that we should be focusing on is that this revealing of opposing views should encourage us to bravely take on the discussion and only highlights the need to further invest in D&I.