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In today’s episode we explore the importance of Allying in Inclusion and how one professional has made it work in a large retail group.

Chami Dhillon has pursued her lifelong passion for unlocking potential through better opportunities for marginalised groups across roles in Pharmaceuticals, Manufacturing, Financial Servies and Retail industries.

Working on diversity and inclusion initiatives for over a decade across various HR roles, she has designed award winning outreach programmes, worked overseas to improve access to opportunities for disadvantaged youth and mentored social enterprises focused on widening participation.

She established Kingfisher’s first Inclusion & Diversity Centre of Excellence in 2021, where she has gone on to launch a successful inclusion accelerator, set up 17 ERGs across the 82,000 strong international workforce and be named a Role Model for Inclusion in Retail by Diversity in Retail.

Jacqueline Conway  00:00

The organisational peak is a perilous environment. It’s more complex and challenging than anything that’s gone before. And as a consequence, both executive tenure and corporate longevity are decreasing. To survive and thrive at the perilous peak, executive leaders need to balance their functional leadership or focus on execution with enterprise leadership, that is ensuring the organisation adapts and our new world. That’s what we’ll be exploring in the advanced executive leadership podcast. Welcome. I’m your host Jacqueline Conway. I’m the founder and managing director of Walden Croft, a consulting practice dedicated to helping executives and executive teams anticipate, navigate and lead at the paperless peak. Every now and again, you speak with someone who’s so coherent and articulate about what they both wanted to achieve and what they’ve implemented. But it’s quite simply a delight to be witness to. That’s today’s guest, Chami Dhillon, for the last two and a half years has been the group head of inclusion and diversity at Kingfisher PLC. As we sat down to speak, she was in the process of transitioning into her new role in the organisation leading on HR strategy, but currently still also doing her previous role. Jeremy has a lifelong passion for Unlocking Potential through better access for marginalised groups. And prior to joining Kingfisher in July 2021, and establishing the group’s first inclusion and diversity Centre of Excellence. She held positions across pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, financial services, and retail. She has been working in diversity inclusion for over a decade, and has designed award winning outreach programmes work globally to improve access for disadvantaged youth and acted as a mentor to social enterprises focused on widening participation, whether you’re an Executive leader who, like all executives that I’m in contact with have dei firmly on their agenda. Or if you’re a specialist in this area, there’s so much to be gained from this conversation, I let Chami introduce herself. Before we hear about her role, and what she’s achieved in the last two and a half years.

Chami Dhillon  02:32

I’m Chami Dhillon, formerly the group head of inclusion and diversity at Kingfisher group, the home of the home improvement brands that you know and love like B&Q and Screwfix. But as you mentioned, this week, my role switched up a little bit, and I’m going into head of HR strategy going forward. So still very firmly invested in the inclusion agenda at Kingfisher, but with a slightly different angle to look at it now. So my background spans financial services, retail where I am right now pharmaceuticals and publishing. And for the last 10 years or so, I’ve held various HR roles, and somehow always found a way to work on diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. So it was a very natural path that then led me into being a DI specialist later on in my career.

Jacqueline Conway  03:20

What does Diversity Equity and Inclusion mean in your organisation?

Chami Dhillon  03:26

So at Kingfisher, we critically call it inclusion and diversity so that we put the inclusion first. And it was really important for us to speak to our colleagues and we have 82,000 of those to understand precisely that, what does it mean to them? What’s important to them? And critically work? Can we do better? Whilst it’s important for us that our businesses that make up Kingfisher very distinct and there’s an element of valuing diversity and protecting that distinction that they have? There’s also something for us in understanding how do we make employee experience consistently better. So inclusion at Kingfisher is all about ally ship. And that’s something we’ve co created with our colleagues about ensuring not only can we understand the role we individually play in making Kingfisher a better place to work, and shop. But also we understand the role that we play in shaping and building the culture that we have. And in a multi store, multi site organisation with 1000s of stores in in many countries, colleague experience varies significantly. So it’s really about the leadership of your store. It’s about the people that you work with on your particular shift. And it’s about the way that we treat each other in those kind of interactions that we have day to day and acknowledging that actually, we might spend more of that time with customers than we do with our own teammates. Diversity for us is local. So what we’ve done is we know at a global level, we have certain focus areas, and they would include age diversity, our focus on youth is really important. And as a retail employer, we have many young people in our organisation, but also on gender, we recognise those as global priority. But in addition to that each of our countries, each of our businesses has local priorities as well. And that varies. And to give you an example, in the UK, ethnicity is incredibly important for our diversity and inclusion plans. And if I were to look in other countries, such as France, or Poland, you would see disability added to that list as well.

Jacqueline Conway  05:35

Okay. And can you say a little more about ally ship? So what do you mean, when you talk about ally ship? And how practically? Do you implement that as an idea across across all of your companies?

Chami Dhillon  05:50

What’s interesting is the term ally ship, it doesn’t translate into all of our operating languages. So we’ve had to spend a lot of time thinking about how do we separate this from potential political connotations if you’re thinking about the word in French, or in Polish, for example, and instead, really focus it on about inclusive behaviours. So for US ally ship, and this is something we’ve defined with our colleagues is simply how do we understand and appreciate the richness of experiences our colleagues have? And how do we around each other be a better colleague, in the way that we interact every day, it really is as simple as that for us. What we’ve done is distilled this into some key behaviours. And we’ve used quite simple language to describe those. So empathy. We talk about humility, a lot. So understanding that you don’t know everything about people, and let’s not make assumptions. We also talk about curiosity, and the willingness to learn, and learn more about different cultures and communities. And when you bundle those behaviours together, which you don’t need to be a DI expert to understand what those terms mean, that is Ally ship, converting that into action is then the bit that we’ve had to try and operationalize. And what we’ve done is understand, first of all, that each of our businesses are at a different level of maturity on their own journey towards being a culture of allies. And so there has to be an element of what are some things that we as a group, can co create together and set a minimum standard about the messaging on this topic to our colleagues. But then also, how do we enable each of our businesses to customise that content for their local market, and to align with their local messaging. So this isn’t happening in a vacuum, we’ve been talking about inclusion, we’ve been talking about belonging for a number of years across our organisation and, and wanting to keep that dialogue relevant and connected. So the first part of that was around evolving the narrative. We have been speaking a lot directly to minority and marginalised groups. And that is still critical. But we also acknowledge the importance of speaking to majority groups specifically, and in ways that is non judgmental, and you know, in ways that invite majority groups into rooms and into conversations around inclusion that they had not been in before. We wanted to bring colleagues stories and really elevate those, as part of that evolved narrative. The second part for us was having a clear moment of we are making a step change. And for us, that was marked by investing time. So we agreed at our board, that every single colleague, would undertake some mandatory learning to understand what what are our new expectations, but are our evolved expectations of colleague behaviour when it comes to inclusive, but also non inclusive behaviour. And that was something we co created with colleagues using real colleague experiences. So actually, where have colleagues in our businesses experienced non inclusive behaviour, and in an organisation of 82,000 people with the kind of attrition that you would expect in a retail environment, we know that they happen, it’s also important for us to understand that if they do happen, we deal with them properly. And that’s through both informal and formal channel. So these real life experiences that we kind of deployed as scenarios. We’ve then had the opportunity to coach colleagues through well how would you respond in this scenario, and based on the response you’ve selected? Let’s direct you to some specific information or learning related to where you personally are in terms of being an active or passive advocate for inclusion. The final piece that kind of pulls all of that together. is to create some safe spaces throughout our organisation. And we’re really lucky at kingfisher. We have 17 colleague networks. Some of those are across the same strand. We have multiple women’s networks in different businesses, for example, but they are incredible critical friends to the organisation, and they provide safe spaces for a range of people and for allies across the organisation. It’s also been important for us to work with our leaders to make sure that they create safe spaces within their teams. And we’ve had inclusive leadership as a core part of our leadership development work for the last couple of years across the entire business. We’ve also then sought to find safe spaces for individual colleagues. And when you think about that, you know, if I’m one of 15 people that work in a store in Dunfermline, for example, how do I find safety in such a small team, when those dynamics are so limited to the individuals that I work with daily, so we’ve created a an online resource called the allyship hub. And this is a place where we do a couple of critical things. The first is we’ve curated content, in partnership with our colleague networks, and our colleague forums, on different topics. Those can be inclusion related on topics like privilege, or microaggressions, code switching, or it can be diversity demographic related on gender identity, sexual orientation, race, and ethnicity, etc. And what you can do is find content that you can trust, that is quality, simple and bite size videos, podcasts, articles, that you can review. There’s also a section on that allyship hub where you can access all of the historical work we’ve done on inclusion, because there’s so much great work that’s happened particularly in businesses, like being que and screwfix Castorama, and BRIC a depo. And we then created a bit of I mean, in the UK, we have this kind of tradition of agony yawns on newspaper columns, and things like that. So it’s an anonymous question board, essentially, ask your questions in an anonymous way, free of judgement. And then we will give you a non judgmental public answer, the idea being that we want to create safe spaces for people to be curious. And critically, we do not want that curiosity to add additional burdens to minority or marginalised groups within the organisation who need to do you know, take that education on their own shoulders, this is to try and simplify that and also front load some of that activity using our software. So those are the three core pieces at a group level, we’ve co created and built over the course of a year with our colleagues, each of our individual businesses has then activated that in their own way through using things like huddle sheets, you know, in quick team briefings, shooting additional videos, weaving into their colleague communications, or their monthly manager packs, and things like conferences and events, et cetera. So we’ve we’ve launched we started in November 2023. That launch continues now and is rolling out to different levels of the organisation. But we will very much test and learn on this content, because we know that inclusion is never static. And what great looks like is going to continue to evolve over time as well.

Jacqueline Conway  13:21

And what about measurement? I mean, how do you know how you’re doing on all of that? Because you’ve set yourself some big ambitions. You’re, it sounds like you’ve done a lot to implement them. How do you measure it? Yeah,

Chami Dhillon  13:36

so we’ve got a range of measures. The first and arguably most important is to track and reduce sentiment gaps over time. And what I mean by that is the experience of people within majority groups for a particular demographic, versus the experience of people in a minority or marginalised group for that same demographic, and how big is the difference in their individual colleague experiences. So that’s the first thing that we track locally, with the view to reducing over time, having done that for about a year. Now, that’s not always a linear progression, it can be quite difficult to track that progress. And things can go forward in some ways, but back in others and show net no progress. But that’s one of our critical measures, and that we keep talking about regularly. Another piece for us is through penetration of some of our content. So in terms of the way that people are interacting with the new narrative that we’ve created, or interacting with the allyship, hub platform, or even the mandatory learning and you know, mandatory learning doesn’t usually ignite people with a passion is not also the place we would typically start on a culture change campaign. But what’s been interesting to us is people are not reacting to that training, as they would a typical man mandatory training, we’ve seen completion rates be three times faster than they would for any other form of mandatory training. And at the end of the training, we’ve added in an optional pledge. So this is a chance for someone to make an ally ship pledge as to how they will take their learnings about being a better ally and being more inclusive into action. And what’s interesting is, you know, 67% of the people that have completed that elearning. So far, at time of recording, I should probably say, have have opted in to make a pledge around ally ship. And that is vastly more than the number of people that we have previously seen engaged in some of our key inclusion and diversity activity. Beyond that, we have measures around the membership, growth and reach of our colleague networks. And we also have a newly launched network for allies at Kingfisher group. So this is for people to come together and look to share best practice and learn from each other on being a better ally, as well as tracking a number of other metrics. But if I had to pull out just a few of them, those would be the three that that I would start with.

Jacqueline Conway  16:08

You’ve talked a lot about how that’s being inculcated into the overall culture across the group. But I wonder if we can then turn our attention to the leadership and what their journey has been on this and what their role is in, in trying to promote this within the group.

Chami Dhillon  16:31

So the journey with inclusive leadership at Kingfisher started before I even joined the organisation two and a half years ago. So we’ve worked with a range of organisations in the different businesses, we have to name a few they would be greenpark Heidrick and struggles, the likes of radius networks mine, Jim, all of whom have come in and deployed up skills training coaching into our leadership team, what’s been important for us is to also go one deeper one further than that, so understanding how included our own leaders feel. And naturally, the more diverse that group that group becomes, you might not always see that inclusion goes in the same direction, depending on the dominant behaviours and structures. So a real focus on their own sense of feeling included, and then how that shows up in their behaviours. We’ve also changed our leadership behaviours. So all of the people that sit across the Kingfisher leadership team now have six leadership behaviours and all of their leadership, communications, their leadership, set plays, if you will, things like conferences, strategy briefings, and even their own kind of the development that we have for them throughout the year is linked to those leadership behaviours, two of which are related to how they show up in this space, one is being inclusive. I mean, that one’s quite obvious. The other is Be human. So that element of empathy coming in there quite strongly, the leadership behaviours that we have, we asked that team to self rate themselves against it, where do they think they have strength versus weakness, we also look at how colleagues rate when they look upwards. So that’s our opportunity to see are we moving the dial on these things over time, and we address that on a business by business level, to then look at where we have opportunities to improve coaching has been critical for those leaders. And we have a number of different ways that we deploy that either through their inclusion and diversity leads, or their people leads in each of our businesses, all through mutual mentoring. And that’s something we rolled out across the entire Kingfisher group in the last year.

Jacqueline Conway  18:43

There’s so much in what Tammy and her team have accomplished in the last two and a half years. And I know from many leaders who are changemakers, what a personal burden it can be. So I was keen to find out what it’s been like personally for charmy working in the space, what her motivations are, and also how she replenishes her energy.

Chami  19:07

So, we are a number of years on now from the murder of George Floyd which triggered the Black Lives Matter movement. And for many organisations, Kingfisher included, required us to reexamine what what we were asking of dei as a function within our business and how integral that needed to be to our strategy and our culture. I think for people within it, particularly those that have been enrolled for a number of years and I have been doing my role at Kingfisher for two and a half years now. Empathy, fatigue is real. And I think acknowledging and understanding that that is a natural part of this role is an important way of understanding how do you then manage yourself through that? Now for me that looks like building really strong networks with people who get it you know, who are in the circle of trust and thinking the way that you do to that you have safe spaces to to have a personal opinion, as well as the organisational opinion that you need to represent or the coaching mindset you need to produce on certain topics, ensuring you’ve got a chance to have a human and personal reaction and response to things that are happening in the external market or things you personally observe and experience within the organisation. I think there’s also an understanding, and this is particularly true for people who want to get more involved in di roles, is from the outside looking in, you see the wonderful parts, you see the way that we can inspire connection and improve the way that people feel and experience businesses, which is powerful. But those gains are hard fought over many days where you feel like you’re taking steps backwards, right on the days when it feels really tough. And so knowing yourself on those days on what drives you, I think is something that sees you through those moments where the empathy fatigue feels really powerful, and sometimes a bit overwhelming. I think the the other bit is understanding what you can achieve and impact. So, you know, as an individual, I cannot undo in two and a half years, or maybe even 10 years, decades or centuries of historic and systemic inequity. So actually being realistic about what I can achieve, is quite powerful. And I think that humbling message enables you to think about how you empower others to be advocates. And, you know, if I were to meet someone, at a party or at the pub, and people asked me what I do, I say to my work in change, I don’t actually say working Dei, because if we’re not changing things, we’re not performing the function we need to. And part of that is how do you inspire others to be change agents so that you are you know, even if you’re, you work in a global business, like we do, when I put my head on the pillow at night, there’s someone picking up those conversations in some of our Asia markets, for example. And I know that those conversations are rich and powerful, and, and orientated towards change, even if I’m not in them. And that’s where you move away from it being a personal endeavour, or a personal passion project, and it being about systemic change within the organisation.

Jacqueline Conway  22:09

But you talked about having to know, what drives you? So what what does drive you charmy?

Chami  22:16

What a great question how to how to answer that succinctly. You know, my personal background drives me right, so I grew up on a council estate, and was by no means the smartest young person, you know, in my school or anywhere that I went, but, you know, I got out is often how I would describe it to people. And there are a lot of people who are far more talented than myself, who maybe didn’t write who fell into cycles of the lives that people in our where I grew up the lives that they had lead before and continue to lead. So what personally drives me is the power of things like education, the power of opportunity. And I’m at one tiny example of that in my own way. But there are so many others that to show talent is everywhere. But opportunity isn’t and how can we kind of level the playing field on that. Interestingly, I kind of started wanting to work for NGOs, when I left university, that’s where I took my career. And for various different reasons I was working overseas with with charities, and I came back to the UK and decided to go into more of a corporate environment. But I’ve still kept that passion of the value and the social impact that organisations can have. That’s how I got my start in di within organisations because I was pushing on social impact. So that’s my, I guess, personal motivation. But it’s evolved, I would say Jacqueline over time. So when I started, I mean, my my passion is, you know, wear my heart on my sleeve on this sort of stuff. I think where that’s difficult is when you’re personally very impacted by something. And yet, you have to represent the organisation and have that kind of very clear, I’m responsible for this agenda. But I’m also personally impacted by it. And that’s where it’s important to know what motivates you and drives you but also understand how it can sometimes cause some headwind into what you’re doing. And I’ve certainly Faced that in my time in this role.

Jacqueline Conway  24:06

So how then do you? What mechanisms do you have in place to sort of weather those things? How do you So you’ve talked about being part of networks, but what else do you do to keep yourself sort of buoyed when things feel like they would otherwise sort of drag you down?

Chami  24:26

Well, the first thing I would say is I’m I’m not perfect at employing any of the mechanisms I’m about to share. So I’m sure that my family and friends and my partner would you know, reference times when they’ve probably picked up the burden on some of that stuff. But what I tried to do is create time for mindfulness so I choose to meditate as often as I can daily if I can even if only for a short period of time. And actually sometimes if I’m having a really tough day, you know, we’ve got a lovely well being room at at at kingfishers HQ in Paddington, you know, I’m not afraid to go and slip in there for 10 minutes and centre myself right if that’s what I need. to do, and that enables me to show up to colleagues in a way that helps them see that, you know, this is a safe space. And that, you know, if someone catches me in the elevator on the way down, I’ve had a really tough day, but they’ve got something really exciting. They want to talk to me about as an idea. They feel the attention and care that they deserve. Right, as a colleague of the business speaking to someone who has a change agent role within the organisation. Beyond meditation, I think a healthy dose of perspective is really important. You know, I’m very mindful about the media that I’m coming I consume, I’m very careful about the space that I allow that to take in my brain. And it’s a it’s a tightrope, you have to walk between being informed, to be able to do your job effectively. But also thinking about how much headspace and emotional energy you have left at the end of the day. And an example of that would be I used to be an avid 10 O’Clock News watcher. And I realised by the time I get to that point in the day, I’m sometimes feeling quite dejected, you know, I’ve maybe not made as much progress as I wanted to, or, you know, energy wise, I’ve just spent all my emotional energy. So actually, I’ve just changed my routines. You know, I read the news, I read it in the morning. And I’m very specific about how I do that. And I choose not to engage too much on social media apart from specific alerts set up for things that are relevant to my job. And that helps me manage my own noise and my own headspace on thing. And I think lastly is checking in with myself constantly. And being kind to myself, you know, I have a coach externally, I have an amazing network of, of mentors and sponsors internal and external to kingfisher. And actually knowing that I’m not alone in any of this and actually impacting lasting changes, not about me as an individual. I’m here for a period of time to catalyse that as best I can. But acknowledging that it’s also not a personal success or failure, if I’m not making the rate of progress that I want to make, you know, that that kindness is something I’ve had to learn because as a, you know, a high performer or overly ambitious person, when I’ve taken that in other lines of work, and then brought that into Dei, you’re not going to see results in the same way that you would in any other specialism or function. And that is an adjustment. You know, if you’d asked me about 18 months ago, probably have a less healthy answer to that question, but certainly answering it now. That’s my sense of that perspective, that framing is incredibly important.

Jacqueline Conway  27:20

Okay, and you’re in this transitional place, this liminal place where you have, you’re coming out of your role in Dei, at Kingfisher, and moving into an HR strategy role. But of course, on a Venn diagram, you know, there is a, there is a huge overlap there. And I wonder, any initial thoughts you have around how you how your inclusion approach in forums HR strategy, or the way that those things sit together, and I know, it’s early days,

Chami  28:02

I reserve the right to change my mind on anything I’m about to say, Jacqueline. So the two are incredibly linked, as you’ve said, so for me, I’m not running away from inclusion, I’m looking at it from a different end of the telescope is probably how I would describe it. And I will continue to be a critical partner to whomever comes into the head of DNI role at kingfisher. I think my opportunity now looking at it from a broader strategy perspective, is to think about how does this feel more part of the basic plumbing of how we get stuff done within the organisation? And how I would describe it is, I mean, I came in at a point where my, my team, my role hadn’t existed prior. So everything was about building basics, building really strong foundations, I would say in 2023, we’ve moved away from foundational thinking and moved more towards where do we want to have a real impact? What do you want to be known for from a cultural standpoint? And I think our ally ship campaign, which I talked about earlier, is an example of where do we want to lead in our industry on this topic and experiment with something new? Definitely far too early to say that that’s been a massive success, but it’s something we’ll continue to test and learn how that’s landing in our business. And the next standpoint has to be how does how does Equity and Inclusion become everyone’s responsibility, not only in their behaviours, which is the ally ship campaign, essentially what they were trying to do there, but in the accountabilities that they have in their role, and particularly when you look at a group standpoint, so Kingfisher group, pretty much everybody that works at Kingfisher group touches a practice or policy or procedure that impacts colleague or customer experience in some way. And how does that flow through into an equity mindset for each of those individuals at the decision points that they make because the accumulative cumulative impact of that could be seismic, right that is a significant paradigm shift in the organisation. So that’s how I think it moves forward. That being said, I think it’s really important to understand your In blind spots when it comes to di, so even had this opportunity not been coming up within Kingfisher to move into HR strategy, I had been saying to my chief people officer to my director, when I get to about three years, I think it’s the right time for someone else to take this rollover. And that’s about what’s right for the business. So I recognise I had a certain energy or focus a certain set of skills, which I brought in to take us to this point, there will be a different set of skills required to accelerate and challenge us to move again, further forward, and acknowledging that if I were to stay in that role, you know, too long beyond three years, you start to be institutionalised, right, and you’ve built some of what you’re trying to disrupt in terms of moving yourself forward, and how effective can you be in that. So I genuinely think, you know, having having kind of terms, quote, unquote, much like certain leadership roles have is actually quite powerful in this space. And that’s not something to be feared as a specialist within it. It’s something to be embraced as an opportunity to then step into another space into another organisation learn and grow, and then come back to it in a way that enables you to be more informed and more effective in what you’re doing.

Jacqueline Conway  31:11

I have a question then about the role the sponsorship rule or otherwise, that your group executive leaders have in driving your dei agenda. I speak to a number of people about executive leadership and things that are important in the C suite. And without probing for this issue, it invariably comes up as one of the sort of top three things that C suite czar have on their agenda and are really concerned about. So what is the role of the executive leadership at Kingfisher group, in supporting you in the work that you and your colleagues have been doing in this space?

Chami Dhillon  32:01

Executive leaders are the success or failure of any significant change agenda that’s not specific to Dei. I think the added nuance, and this is probably true of most leadership, executive leadership teams, is they reflect majority groups. And what I mean by that is executive leadership, particularly when the within the footsie 100 looks a certain way. And you have organisations such as the parka review, or footsie women leaders trying to target them to be more diverse, but majority groups are particularly true, and at play in executive leadership team. And I think the narrative about that has been quite unhelpful so far, because the narrative has been about what we need to change it. And whilst that may be true, that doesn’t always mean a change in the people in those roles. And actually, if someone thinks my job is at risk here, or I don’t have a place on these boards anymore, you cannot act inclusively from a place of fear that that personal fear will always inhibit what you’re doing. The conversation at Kingfisher has been more about what, what changes do you want to see in the organisation? And how can you role model them first and foremost? So one thing that’s really clear, and this has been oft written about in, in researches, minority and marginalised groups cannot make the systemic changes be that in society or within cultural within an organisation on their own, like no one is willingly allowing themselves to be marginalised or, or excluded in some way. And therefore, we need to recognise and understand the power and importance of majority groups in the dynamics that they promote and engage in. Part of that comes from self awareness and understanding. And that can be really tough to do. So being supported to do that, I think is really important. But once you’ve done that, as an Executive leader, the opportunities become endless for you to impact your team and your culture in a really, really positive way. And I’ll give you an example of how this plays out. I’m really lucky that the executive leaders that I work with at Kingfisher are really great bunch of people. Right. And I know in their core, they are allies. Some of the conversations we’ve had to have is around how do how does that good intention translate into behaviours that people can observe and observe in infrequent moments, because actually executive leaders, their roles mean that the exposure that people have to them can be quite limited sometimes, but they cast an enormous shadow into the organisation. And what does that look? So this is where, what you say in public spaces, how people observe you in meetings, both big and small. The interactions people have, as you know, they walk past you in the corridor or stand with you in the elevator, those things become moments that matter. And how do you drive consistency in that, but also show that you care about the things that matter in an authentic way? So one question I’ve got I often ask Some of our executive leaders is, how does you know the most junior person in your direct team? How do you think they perceive you? Their answer? And then there’s something about right now go and speak to some people, if they were to give you two to three words on that, who you can trust, what would they say? Or is there is there a kind of an overlap between what you think you’re being portrayed as versus what you also there’s an awareness gap that can bridge, I think the second thing is to acknowledge that some people bring historical baggage or emotional baggage into a situation that is nothing to do with you. And this is often where I share and I will share that, you know, I get the train from my home into Paddington every day. And I have been racially abused on the train by someone who looks like a very respectable, kind of senior leader, like someone who obviously was affluent, or the markers of of having status and affluent affluence, but acted in a way that told me they are not a safe space for me, they do not have the same views that I have. And whilst when I then meet someone who looks like that person, a member of a majority group, a member with status, someone who’s who’s affluent, they may not have the same views as that person. But I’m, I have an experience, which means I’m guarded, I’m going to be careful, because I’ve learned I can’t take it for granted that I can be safe. And that’s nothing to do with the other person. That’s everything to do with me. But as a leader, acknowledging that, you know, in the same way that we make stereotypes about people in groups that aren’t like ours, or that people will make stereotypes about groups that they perceive us to be in, I think it’s even more important to be the person that extends a hand and speaks openly speaks vulnerably speaks authentically about what’s important to you. What are you fearful of what’s what do you want to see change? What world do you want for the young people in your life to grow up into those the stories that will meaningfully with the people in your organisation? And part of that is admitting that you don’t have the answers. And I acknowledge that, you know, for many leaders who say things to get to their desk, it’s because other very intelligent people haven’t been able to solve it. They’re the ones that fix things. They’re the ones that find a way through tricky situations. And there are no specific right or wrong answers on some inclusion related topics. And there’s a lot of ambiguity in this space. So much. So I detest calling myself an expert, because I think if you call yourself an expert, you’re not being curious enough to, to maintain the level of knowledge, you need to do this job effectively. And that’s a full time job for me, right? I’m not expecting any of our leaders to be able to invest as much time but simple things such as the media that they choose to consume, the way they choose to show up in meetings. That’s ways that they can demonstrate their ally ship pledge, something that we asked all of our colleagues to make every day.

Jacqueline Conway  37:52

Gosh, that’s amazing. Thank you so much. What a rich and nuanced answer. That was. Thank you, Chami. This has been a delight. And I mean, I think on the basis of the way that you have spoken about your role, both very specifically about the things that you and your team have done in Kingfisher over the past two and a half years, but also sort of philosophically about how you’re coming at it, and personally, how you’re coming at it has, has been, for me really uplifting to listen to and to hear. And so I guess it’s just for me to see, I really wish you well, and your new role, I have nothing but confidence that it will be amazing. And that Kingfisher continues to do really well in the space that you are advocating for HR strategy on the basis of the really strong foundations that you’ve created for that. So I will I will watch with great interest in that. And I’d just like to say, thanks so much for coming on to the podcast. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please hit the Follow button so arrives in your feet as new episodes are released. And if you’re so inclined, it would mean a great deal to me if you could leave a rating and review. And if you’d like to stay up to date with the ideas and offerings that we have for executive leaders, you can sign up to my weekly digest the links in the show notes. This is very much a team effort and more than Croft and I’d like to thank Pippa Barker, Sita Ballantine, and Lauren, the calpain for helping meet the podcast

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What’s required from Executive Leaders has changed. Find out how executive leaders and executive teams can survive and thrive in our disrupted world. Interviews with CEOs and insights from Waldencroft’s Dr Jacqueline Conway.

By Jacqueline Conway…

Dr Jacqueline Conway works with CEOs and executive teams as they fully step into their collective enterprise-wide leadership, helping them transform their impact and effectiveness.

Jacqueline is Waldencroft’s Managing Director. Based in Edinburgh, she works globally with organisations facing disruption in the new world of work.