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A Year in Review: Farrah Qureshi’s Reflections on DEI at GDP

As I reflect on the past year at Global Diversity Practice, I am struck by how our journey has been filled with significant growth, challenges, and profound learning experiences.

Our goal for organisations is clear and ambitious: to ensure everyone has a voice and a seat at the table. Our approaches to helping businesses achieve this has diversified substantially over the past 12 months and we’ve added several different strategies and resources for supporting leaders and management teams.

The strides we’ve made in empowering employee resource groups have been remarkable. We’ve equipped organisations with robust governance structures, crafted detailed playbooks, and guided their future planning, all through an intersectional lens. Witnessing the evolution from activism to advocacy, allyship, and concrete action has been a source of great inspiration and pride for me.

We’ve placed a strong emphasis on fostering inclusivity and accountability at senior levels In our approach to inclusive leadership. By identifying and nurturing points of influence within organisational structures, we’ve championed a brand of leadership that is not only globally aware but also deeply inclusive.

Leveraging data and analytics has been transformative, enabling organisations to understand their current state and to anticipate and shape their futures. This proactive stance has been instrumental in bringing about meaningful change and expanding our ambition for inclusion.

Embracing the principle that a rising tide lifts all boats, we’ve actively connected with diverse underrepresented groups through our clients, helping them to move into roles of leadership and influence. Our focus on aspects like neurodiversity has opened up enriching dialogues and initiatives, which have been transformative.

Part of our conversation this year has also centred on the emotional tax shouldered by underrepresented groups. The complexities of navigating neurodiversity, the social camouflage often employed to connect, survive, and thrive amidst different identities, and the nuances of code-switching have been critical areas of focus. This dialogue has been essential in understanding and addressing the unique challenges faced by these groups.

This year has also reinforced the concept of “glocal” – a blend of global and local perspectives. This approach has allowed us to draw insights from local practices, integrating them into our global strategies. This “glocal” perspective has enriched our work, enhancing our understanding and effectiveness in unprecedented ways.

Over the last four to five years, we’ve been riding the waves of a continuous permacrisis, spanning from the challenges of COVID-19 to various geopolitical conflicts.

Constantly elevating our cortisol levels and keeping us in a state of alert, this period has reinforced the importance of acknowledging what’s happening around us. It’s in these times of unrelenting change that we’ve found opportunities to strengthen our commitment to creating an environment of respect and belonging.

On a personal note, this year has been a period of profound reflection and reinvigoration for me, especially during a personal health crisis which kept me away from work over many months. This journey has been a moment of deep introspection and recalibration of my life’s purpose. Emerging from this challenging period, I’ve found a renewed sense of vigour and hope. This personal experience has reinforced my belief in the critical importance of our work in helping shape a more inclusive world, reminding me of the resilience and determination we all possess.

Looking to the future, I am filled with excitement about building upon our foundation. I feel optimistic as I watch the world respond to global events with a voice that champions inclusion and human rights.

I am eager to explore what inclusion will mean in our rapidly evolving landscape with businesses that are looking to build stronger cultures. I can see how the advent of technologies like artificial intelligence underscore the need for skills inherent in inclusive leadership, such as creativity, empathy, and vulnerability, and that leaders are looking for help to navigate a world where disruption continues to bring new opportunities.

As we step into the new year, I do so with renewed hope and determination, carrying with me the belief that together, we can forge a more inclusive, sustainable world.

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