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A year in review: Looking back to move forward

Among all the festivities at this time of year it’s hard not to start thinking ahead to what 2023 might bring. What better way to round off a year than to look back at what’s been? So for this final blog of 2022, I’ve pulled together a list of articles from the blog that I hope will give you insights, strategies and inspiration for 2023.

So without further ado, here’s four New Year’s Resolutions that you might want to add to your Christmas list…

Make diversity and inclusion a priority

It’s a well-documented fact that organisations that put the right Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategy in place perform better overall. They benefit from higher productivity, better employee retention, and an overall boost in morale.

DEI initiatives not only help to attract top talent, they also help an organisation grow and innovate. Perhaps then it’s no surprise that organisations with an inclusive culture are 8 times more likely to achieve better business outcomes.

You can read more from my blog about the importance of a D&I strategy here.

Once you know you’ve got your priorities in order, it’s time to move on to implementation. Along that theme I wrote an article for Accountancy Ireland, sharing five steps on how to implement D&I effectively, on a day-to-day basis.

The steps include defining and developing your definition of inclusion, and championing its uptake by setting the right ‘tone from the top’.

Plan for all forms of diversity

‘Diversity’ is sometimes confined to the most common definitions of the word - often we think of gender, race or religion first. Of course these are all hugely important, but I’d highly recommend adding neurodiversity to your priorities for next year.

Neurodiversity is not visible or well-represented in most workplaces so it often goes under the radar, but it's been proven beyond doubt that a neurodiverse workforce adds another string to the bow of competitive advantage. Given that an estimated 1 in 7 people (more than 15%) in the UK, and 1 in 10 in Ireland, are neurodivergent, you could be missing out on a huge talent opportunity if your hiring practices are unwittingly screening these groups out.

With some accommodations, hiring and promotion approaches can be adjusted to attract and progress a more neuro-diverse range of individuals than they currently do.

Look inwards before looking outwards

Novelist Leo Tolstoy famously wrote:

“everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself”

and that’s a useful place to start when we think about how leaders instigate organisational change.

In this pivotal report released earlier this year, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation studied the national picture of LGBT+ workers’ experiences of inclusion at work, versus their non-LGBT+ colleagues. It was clear that still over half of LGBT+ workers hide who they are at work - at both a personal cost and also to the detriment of an organisation’s culture.

Creating awareness of the role of unearned privilege is therefore a key first step into a truly diverse and inclusive work culture, and it starts by looking in. Read more about understanding privilege here.

Similarly, it’s important to not forget our unconscious biases - the act of making a judgement about someone without changing our approach, no matter the evidence to the contrary. As leaders, this introspection is undoubtedly uncomfortable - but it’s so vital in eradicating biases so that we can achieve true inclusivity.

Find out more about my BRAVE model to drive inclusion and better-balanced representation, and the actionable steps you can start on today.

Be a force for change

Whether leading an organisation or shouldering parental responsibilities at home, there are opportunities all around us to be a force for change.

In particular, when it comes to gender equality in the workplace, male colleagues and leaders can play a pivotal role in accelerating gender parity. Too many organisations still miss the mark on gender balance efforts by focusing gender initiatives solely on what women can do to level the playing field. Instead, a drive towards ‘allyship’ is steadily gaining pace.

The more positive interactions men have with women in professional settings, the less prejudice and exclusion they tend to demonstrate. For men, the message is clear - you must take action and be a force for change.

The responsibilities of all of us don’t just lie at the office door. As parents, I also believe we have an (often weighty!) responsibility to raise future citizens that are inclusive and respect diversity.

We know that every day as a parent includes teachable moments - “share with your sister”, “no hitting”, “get down, you’ll fall”. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we recognised and took advantage of the everyday moments to teach them to include others and value differences too? That would certainly be top of my Christmas list.

As the year draws to a close I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year. See you on the other side!

If you’d like to find out more about the work of Dermody, or you need support in building a comprehensive, impactful, and sustainable D&I strategy, get in touch with Dermody today.

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