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How data helps Sky reach higher when defining and delivering an inclusive workforce

Sky’s head of inclusion, Catherine Garrod, discusses how the media and communications giant uses employee feedback to shape its approach to diversity and inclusion

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Starting small in 2016 and ramping up in 2018, we’ve been creating a sense of belonging at Sky, for 23,000 people. Our vision is to be admired as the industry leader in the UK and Ireland for inclusion both on-screen and behind the scenes. We want our customers to see themselves authentically portrayed on screen, and our people to celebrate diversity and deliver the best work of their lives. It's pretty bold and it's pretty Sky – we like to set ourselves bold ambitions, and the goal is to achieve that by 2020.

How we started

We began with internal and external research, looking at the landscape to figure out our opportunity and establish what we do first, as we recognise that trying to do everything at once just slows us down.

People see a big black guy in a suit. Sometimes they'll think I'm there to check their security pass

Then we connected all the great things already happening in different areas of the business and found we had a great starting point, with initiatives like our Women in Leadership programme, support of the Rainbow Laces campaign to make sport more lesbian/gay/bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) inclusive and two employee networks.

All are owned by different teams, and the only thing we changed is how we communicate progress happening in different areas – we join it all up under one umbrella.

A key tool in our employee engagement is our Sky Forum, where employees elected by their peers across every single team in Sky UK and Ireland meet throughout the year with our most senior leaders. It’s employee voice in its truest sense, and we worked with the forum to capture front-line perspective on stereotyping and assumptions. What we found was the meaning of inclusion was much broader than gender, race or any other characteristic; it was also important to consider things like what type of job people do.

Employee voice

So, when we launched our vision during National Inclusion Week in 2017, the main message was 'be yourself 'and we opened up the conversation with employees on camera talking about assumptions that have been made about them:

Well, because I'm gay, a lot of people were seeing that I live this wild, hedonistic lifestyle which is actually far from the truth. I like to chill out at home with my husband!

People see a big black guy in a suit. Sometimes they'll think I'm there to check their security pass.

I think sometimes people make assumptions about me in that because I'm an energetic character, because I'm a dance teacher, because I work in procurement across various parts of the business, I'm a really confident person. But actually it's something that I really have to work quite hard at.

I don’t look typically British; people tend to assume I’m not.

I think people tend to assume that because I'm in remission from cancer  I've recovered from my illness.

People assume that because I'm a large guy I'm quite lazy. And I'm not. I'm quite active, actually.

And they also described what they think inclusion should look like in the workplace:

Inclusion means no longer being a minority, but being one of many.

[Inclusion] means embracing people for who they are, not what you assume them to be.

This approach sparked a very natural question from our leaders: how do I know if my team is inclusive? So we worked with Glint, which hosts our people survey, and said: "We don't want to add more questions for diversity and inclusion – what have we already got that speaks to a feeling of being valued, heard and involved?"

Glint helped us identify six questions about authenticity, empowerment, recognition, action, fairness and growth.

We survey twice a year and slice the data from those questions into different comparison groups; men and women, BAME and white, LGB and heterosexual, disability and no disability, under 44 and over 44. The end goal being that there's no difference in scores and everyone has a shared experience of working here.

What we did

The data showed that across Sky overall the experience was fairly consistent, but in some parts of the business we needed to take action. So we support managers with a simple and practical toolkit, containing research of why diversity and inclusion matters and facilitator guides with videos and quizzes, to get the conversation going in their teams. We also have materials specific for our senior leaders to build confidence talking about diversity in the workplace.

The focus on culture has created a movement here at Sky, and we’ve now got five employee networks; parents@sky, LGBT+@sky, women@sky, multiculture@sky and body&mind@sky. Each is run by volunteers with an exec sponsor and light touch guidance from me to build a strategy to support their community. And they’re a fantastic source of insight creating bottom up pressure from their members, keeping us focused on the things that matter most to our people.

And the movement is kept alive with a regular drumbeat – we publish an inclusion newsletter every two weeks, which celebrates progress across teams to inspire further action. It’s quite old school, especially for a media company, but it’s working.

A year after launching our vision we were proud to be the first company to sponsor National Inclusion Week. It was a huge collaboration with every team at Sky bringing to life what we’re doing both on screen and behind the scenes. And through our partnership with Inclusive Employers (who own NIW) we also highlighted progress across industries, to inspire more employers to build more inclusive workplaces, for more people.

And in HR it’s just me dedicated to diversity and inclusion, collaborating with all our teams to disrupt bias in policies, processes, systems, development tools, performance benchmarking and so much more.

With so many people empowered and passionate about diversity and inclusion, I am hoping to do myself out of my own job!

Catherine Garrod, Sky

Published 23 January 2019. Catherine Garrod, pictured above, is head of inclusion at Sky

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