Sasha Scott and The Inclusion Group

Sasha Scott is one of our speakers for Personal Impact Stories.

SHE Conference

08.03.2021

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In this interview you get to know a little bit more about the woman who founded The Inclusive Group and her thoughts on major drivers for change as well as the challenges.  

Get to know a little bit about Sasha, as well as her thoughts on equality and diversity.  

— I am Sasha Scott, CEO and Founder of The Inclusive Group. I live in London between two houses (It’s complicated -but interesting!) I grew up in London and studied Psychology away at university but then returned to the smoke. When I graduated I was broke and, having grown up in a creative family where my step dad was self-employed and had long periods of no work, I hated the fear and anxiety that came between jobs.

At 20 I made myself a promise to NEVER work for myself! My mum always worked exceptionally hard to pay for our education. She instilled in me the value of learning and maintained it’s the ultimate gift you can give your kids. She was correct, without that I wouldn’t be part of the amazing SHE community.

Could you tell our readers about The Inclusive Group?

— My work is my passion, my drive and I succour huge energy from what I do. I run The Inclusive group having founded it 20 years ago-before diversity became a real issue within the workplace. We are a full service EDI consultancy working in 23 countries access 1,000,000 professionals and our clients span Professional Services, Media, Tech, Pharma, Arts and Sport.

Did you always know that this is what you wanted to do, or was there something that led to these choices in life? Major pivots? 

— I fell into diversity but it took 12 years in investment banking to make the leap; I was always far more interested in people than I was derivatives but one day when I was working in Trading and Sales at UBS I went to NY on a course on telephone sales.

— I was sitting in this room on the 56th floor looking over the Manhattan skyline and I thought “I can do that” I knew I could learn to be good at talking to people and educating. Fast forward a few years and the rest is history. I believe I came full circle to my degree and innate love of digging deeper into human behaviour. Reading Psychology at university ignited an ember, but it took me several years before the fire really lit.

— I avidly read, un-learn and re-think human behaviour and how that intersects with workplace inclusion. As we are a full-service organisation the work we do varies wildly and even in lockdown there is no ‘typical’ day, what’s typical every day is atypical.

— We consult with organisations on EDI strategy, we roadmap where they want to get to and how they get there, we run multiple interventions based on inclusion nudge theory and behavioural sciences and design bespoke programs. I spend a lot of time nurturing new and existing business and get asked to speak on diverse topics within EDI at events around the world. I also run a film and intimacy coordination arm of Inclusive Group which works on set and thus have collaborated on many feature films working with A list Hollywood stars! Never a dull day!

What are the most commercial drivers behind reducing within the workplace?  

  • Ethics and equality

To begin with the most important driver for change and equity is ethics and equality. Social justice as exemplified globally in 2020 by the Black Lives Matter movement that amplified its velocity after the brutal murder of George Floyd and many black people before him.

  • ESG priorities

This is also about the environment and sustainable change – the ESG priorities have become so much more of a business imperative and EDI sits under the ‘S’ so we spend a lot of time with Boards helping them understand what that will look like internally and externally.

  • Talent acquisition

This is also about talent acquisition and optimization. Workplace culture matters more than it ever has and if the culture isn’t inclusive, people leave. With younger generations entering the workplace EDI is a critical factor to where they want to work—get this wrong and you will suffer. We always try to get clients to align EDI to the bottom line, what we call the Diversity Dividend’

  • The Consumer and B2B driver

Given my commercial background it’s just part of who we are and what we do. The consumer and B2B driver is critical. When we work with FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) we see that people won’t buy the product if the brand is inauthentic. I am sure 2021 and beyond will be typified by large scale diversity ‘fails’ when a brand is performative about their diversity commitments but its not the lived experience of the employees or consumer. These fails affect share value and reputation-how do you quantify that?

With experience from investing – what are the most common diversity challenges within the financial industry?

— Basically, a lack of representation from marginalized groups. Much progress has been made around gender but intersectionality is so important and forward thinking organisations are investing in ethnicity, LGBTQ+, Social Mobility, Disability and all of the intersections therein.

  • Organisational Culture

— In my opinion this all starts with organisational culture – it’s imperative to take a long view around strategy and attain the quick wins along the way. Culture is the secret sauce that not only attracts diversity in its broadest sense, but allows diverse people to thrive. Leaders need to understand what inclusive behaviour looks like. Companies need a systemic business led approach to inclusion and diversity, as well as bolder action on inclusion.

What does equality mean to you?

— The difference between equality and equity must be emphasised. Although both promote fairness, equality achieves this through treating everyone the same regardless of need, while equity achieves this through treating people differently dependent on need.

When will we have reached our goal of having gender equality and what are the most important steps we can take on order to create change?

— This is a big question—I see this when there is true gender parity. The most important steps for change are motivation and stakeholder involvement, the Exec understanding the strategic business case, allyship being understood and translated into action, development interventions to allow ramping on and off in the career cycle, effective positive role models, and above all an inclusive culture. Get the processes bias free-it’s a lot easier to debias a process than it is a person!

If you could be a part of making a change – what kind of change do you want to see in the world?

— I believe we are all part of the solution – I sometimes describe myself as ‘CHO – Chief Happiness Officer’ I would like to get to a place where we are obsolete and nowhere needs help with inequality and diversity but I know that we are far off from nirvana.

Sasha’s Favourites:

  • Book:

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette Winterson’s memoir is deeply moving and totally relatable to me. I didn’t come out as gay until my 40s and it speaks to me in terms of conformity and confusion.

  • Podcast:

Ramblings – Clare Balding

The Digital Human – BBC Radio 4

Sideways – Matthew Syed

Unlocking Us – Brene Brown

Work life – Adam Grant

  • Leader:

Kamala Harris
Jacinda Ardern
Simon Sinek
Adam Grant
Matthew Syed
Brene Brown