Accelerating diversity key to delivering projects fit for end users

From: Association for Project Management
Published: Tue Oct 18 2022

As Black History Month continues to honour the history of Black communities and champion the achievements made towards greater equality, we speak to Mac Alonge, Chief Executive of The Equal Group, about what more can be done to accelerate Black inclusion in the workplace and why doing so is important to projects.

The key is awareness, says Mac (pictured). It's important to be aware of the gaps we have, both internally and externally who is in the room and who is making the decision, and to what extent your own internal project teams match the end users or the demographic that you are serving.

With the profession delivering ever more complex and far-reaching projects across the globe, the importance of understanding and engaging your stakeholders cannot be overstated.

If there's no diversity within that team, you tend to find yourself talking to the same people or the same types of people.

To stop this from becoming the status quo, Mac calls for greater reflection on levels of diversity across every aspect of a project.

I think challenging yourself in terms of your internal team, challenging yourself in terms of recruitment, retention and progression is absolutely the right starting point.

HS2 is a good example of doing this well They challenge themselves around the diversity of their own team, but definitely [also] from a supply chain perspective; the diversity and inclusion requirements that they place on their Tier 1 suppliers and ensuring that those requirements are cascaded down to Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers. This ensures that they've got full visibility of levels of diversity within their supply chain. It's great to see and it really encourages people to think.

While a drive towards greater diversity and inclusion like this is important, Mac also highlights the importance of long-term, critical thinking when it comes to embedding equality, diversity and inclusion within organisations.

The requirement isn't to tick a box and deliver diversity from day one, but to consistently report, monitor and improve, he says.

In fact, organisations that rush to recruit can find it counterproductive if the groundwork isn't established to create the right environment that meets the needs of a diverse workforce.

[When that happens] we actually find that organisations end up recruiting people into quite toxic environments. If an organisation isn't geared towards the retention and progression of Black people, you go out and you convince a number of Black people to join the organisation. Then they find out that, actually, they're facing microaggressions or they're facing issues on a day-to-day basis. That can be more harmful to your brand and to your organisation over the long term.

With huge numbers of large-scale infrastructure projects well under way - many as part of the Government's Levelling Up agenda - the importance of being aware of the overarching societal context in which projects operate is clear if they are to meet the needs of local communities.

Mac will be joining a panel including APM Chief Executive Prof Adam Boddison to discuss accelerating Black inclusion at an upcoming event in London. APM members can attend for free. If you're interested in joining, you can find out more and book your space here.

Company: Association for Project Management

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