Leading societal change

It is too easy for business leaders to pay lip service to societal change rather than deliver it – instead, they must demonstrate positive actions, urges Claudia Osei-Nsafoah, Chief People Officer UK&I, Group Talent and D&I, Sky.

Meaningful societal change requires bold actions, real investment and total transparency, according to Osei-Nsafoah. At an industry level, she says, enhancing collaboration between companies, sharing best practices and increasing transparency in reporting D&I metrics are crucial steps to driving impactful progress. For its part, Sky has partnered with a variety of organisations committed to societal change including the Black Equity Organisation to provide connectivity, along with mentorship to address systemic inequalities in the business landscape for black entrepreneurs.

By putting words into action Sky has accelerated its measures against racial injustice with a £30 million commitment, and increased its ethnic diversity within the workforce from 15.4 per cent in January 2021 to 21.2 per cent by February 2024. This reflects a 5.8 per cent increase in representation across the business. “We’ve made a commitment for 20 per cent of employees across Sky in the UK and Ireland to be from an ethnic minority background by 2025, with at least a quarter of these to be black,” stated Osei-Nsafoah.  

We can’t solve systemic issues of injustice and inequality in a day, and we can’t solve them alone. But we’re committed to doing our part over the long-term

She also stressed that organisations need to build diverse and inclusive cultures. Not only internally, but also consider the responsibility and role they play in influencing society. “Creating a more inclusive society is at the heart of our business,” added Osei-Nsafoah. “Having the right culture enables different perspectives and we have a responsibility to create a culture that everyone feels part of. We’re building an organisation where inclusion is actively managed and invites natural curiosity while enabling people to be themselves, express themselves and thrive, no matter who they are or what background they’re from.”
In June 2023 Sky signed up to a pledge alongside Ofcom and a number of industry peers to help more women build a tech career in telecommunications. But having a diverse workforce alone doesn’t necessarily provide the full benefits of diversity, noted Osei-Nsafoah, who also pointed out the critical role of leadership in driving the full potential of inclusion.

Leadership training
“Sky has established  a programme of Inclusive Leadership training for its circa 400 leaders,” added Osei-Nsafoah. “They have a pivotal role to play so it was important that we invested in providing practical guidance on how to model inclusive leadership in their teams and business units. We have bespoke inclusive leadership materials that provide managers at all levels with the practical skills that empower them to play an active role in creating a culture of inclusion and innovation across Sky. “Our Employee Networks are also supported at a leadership level, all being sponsored by a member of Sky’s executive team. This helps our networks raise awareness at the top levels of our organisation of the issues underrepresented communities face.”

Establishing industry benchmarks and holding companies accountable will further push the D&I agenda forward, believes Osei-Nsafoah. To help ensure its own accountability and progress Sky works in partnership with the Diversity Advisory Council, an external body composed of nationally recognised diversity and inclusion leaders. “These leaders advise on the development and implementation of our D&I initiatives and their impact on corporate governance, workforce and supplier diversity,” noted Osei-Nsafoah.

She concedes that while significant strides have been made in driving the D&I agenda there is always more to be done. “One of the initiatives we introduced to catalyse more progress is an Inclusive Hiring Tool to ensure all recruitment managers hire through a diverse lens,” explained Osei-Nsafoah. “Bespoke training is created by Rare Recruitment and centred around inclusive hiring. We’re working closely with talent acquisition to build this into the hiring process.

“We’re also continuing to drive systematic change under our £30 million commitment, focusing on wider intersections of diversity and inclusion including disability, LGBTQ+ and social mobility. Disability is another focus area as we work to improve our accessibility measures.”
It is clear to see that Sky’s aspirations to progress its D&I agenda are treated with the same rigour as any other part of the business, with a demonstrable and robust leadership commitment, clear and measurable targets, an inclusive culture that encourages open dialogue and continuous learning, along with a commitment to addressing key issues and inequalities for under-represented groups in society.

“We can’t solve systemic issues of injustice and inequality in a day, and we can’t solve them alone,” stated Osei-Nsafoah. “But we’re committed to doing our part over the long-term. Sharing success stories such as our investment in new storytelling through the New Focus Fund, supporting black businesses through the Black Equity Organisation, combating racism in football with Kick It Out, and addressing school exclusions with Mission 44, we can help inspire further progress across the industry.”

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