On October 24, 2019, Open Doors Initiative hosted its third seminar with this one focussing on investor perspectives on sustainability,developing a more inclusive culture, programme examples from a participant company, and individual experiences from people who have overcome barriers in their careers.
Dr Rory Sullivan, Co-Founder and Director, Chronos Sustainability, explained the business case for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) stating that it is perceived by investors to be a test of management quality. Increasingly, investors are concerned with CSR aspects (climate change, diversity, etc.) and expect companies to be similarly aware of the risks and opportunities presented by CSR topics.
It’s also important for companies to link business priorities and needs to CSR. Companies that do this well are more likely to build investor support for strategies that enable long term business growth and improve societal and environmental impact.
Natasha Broomfield-Reid, Senior Adviser,Irish Centre for Diversity spoke about diversity and equality as a basic human right. She classified diversity as more than just physical differences (a common misconception) and described inclusion as recognising the value of difference and creating a culture where everyone feels welcome. She characterised the Business case for diversity as one that can lead to improved service, customer care, and employee retention.
Adaku Ezeudo - Director, PhoenixRize Consulting spoke about her experienc eafter arriving in Ireland from Nigeria,specifically the cultural differences,challenges with having a Masters Level qualification from Nigeria that didn’t transfer in Ireland, and subsequent struggles to get work experience and employment. Time and time again Adaku was told that there were no opportunities for her despite her qualifications and experience, and as a result, over time she lost trust in the process. Even after finding employment Adaku still faced cultural barriers which made work life difficult. Holding true to her belief that everyone should be treated with respect and dignity, Adaku used her experience to found PhoenixRize Consulting, an organisation that helps companies understand cultural diversity and adapt.
Adaku closed her presentation with a final comment:“Progressive organisations do not stand still, they evolve. The biggest impact that can be done is to embed [diversity and inclusion] into our daily lives.”
Sinead Smith, Head of Corporate Responsibility, A&L Goodbody spoke about the company’s employment programmes. Sinead pointed out that sometimes companies can perceive barriers that aren’t actually there so giving people opportunities can break down negative stereotypes and demonstrate that all employees can be equal, regardless of situation.
Sinead then introduced Tomas Murphy, TCPID graduate– working with A&L as a General Service Assistant since 2015. Tomas graduated from Trinity in 2011 and immediately began to look for work but received no replies to the CVs he sent out. Through his network he was interviewed for and then offered a role in Chartered Accountants Ireland where he worked for eight months, but due to economic conditions at the time was let go. Tomasthen sent out CVs, and once again through his network of contacts, got an interview with A&L. They offered him a short term job which eventually became a permanent role.