In this episode, I talk to Darren DuPorte from the Business Growth Fun about the impact of the work we’ve been doing with the business, from workshops and developing the internal diversity action group, to individual coaching.
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Speaker 1: Welcome to the Inclusive Growth Show, with Toby Mildon. Future-proofing your business by creating a diverse workplace.
Toby Mildon: Hello there. Thank you ever so much for tuning into this episode of the Inclusive Growth Podcast. And I'm really excited because today I'm joined by one of my clients, Darren. So Darren DuPorte works for a company called the Business Growth Fund, he is the talent acquisition, equity, diversity, and inclusion lead. And I've been doing several projects with him over the last few months, so I thought it'd be a great opportunity to bring Darren onto the podcast and for him to just share with us what he does, how the Business Growth Fund or BGF have been advancing in their diversity and inclusion journey, and some of the things that we've been doing together. So Darren, it's lovely to see you and thanks for joining me.
Darren DuPorter: Thank you very much. Yeah, thanks for having me.
Toby Mildon: So Darren, before we get into the thick of what we've been doing together, could you just share a bit more about who you are, your role, and what the Business Growth Fund is all about?
Darren DuPorter: Yeah, totally. So I work in BGF's HR function, which is based out of London. I've been here just over a year and I guess my mandate was to help BGF build high performing teams, cultures, and environments through leveraging equity, diversity, and inclusion. And I guess that's both for us as a business and how we function, but that does transfer into, I guess, us investing into high growth potential businesses, and helping them to be able to reach their potential and growth potentially.
Toby Mildon: Brilliant. So one of the first bits of work that we did together was rolling out our Diversity Includes Everyone Workshop, and we've been doing that as part of your leadership development program, and also part of your diversity and inclusion network that you've got, which we'll talk a bit more about together. Why did you ask us to come in and deliver that workshop for you and what are some of the things that we've been covering?
Darren DuPorter: Yeah, so I guess when you're kind of fresh into a business and you're looking at kind of EDI, holistically, you really kind of trying to understand where the business is, in a business like BGF where you have 15 offices across the UK and Islands, all kind of different sizes, have different functions and obviously the communities they're in are very different. And from what I could see and like with most businesses, I guess they probably start from a point of compliance, so unconscious bias training and things of that sort. And I guess I was keen to really move their level of maturity on a little bit to really understanding that this isn't just a morally right thing to do or a thing that you shouldn't get wrong, I guess in terms of what it's [0:02:58.2] ____ so you get in trouble. But really being able to understand the value add and how this can help us set both commercial goals as well as, I guess, us being more, happy with the environments they're in. So I guess your approach to inclusive growth aligned with a lot of the values of the business and I think embodies that kind of value add approach rather than compliance approach.
Toby Mildon: Yeah. I think it was a perfect alignment because your company's called the Business Growth Fund and you are all about investing in and growing businesses, and then my book is Inclusive Growth. So I think we were on the same page that a more diverse, more inclusive culture can help businesses thrive and perform better and ultimately grow.
Darren DuPorter: Yeah, agreed. I think, kind of very similar is that philosophy aligned with values, but I think also your background that you come from was easier to talk the language of some of the audience, which I guess the people tend to come from kind of account-y type backgrounds, banking, investment banking, corporate finance. So I guess you having a track record in delivering this sort of stuff to similar sorts of audiences and professions, I think this kind of speaks directly to what we're trying to do here and how we can go about doing that.
Toby Mildon: Definitely. I think, yeah, my background in working in companies like Accenture, the BBC, and Deloitte has definitely helped 'cause I understand how corporates work and some of the politics with the big P and the small p, and how to actually affect change in an organization is really important.
Darren DuPorter: Yeah, I can just add it to that, actually, another key point, and I'm pretty open with these sort of conversations, I think is also even my background. So I guess people aren't here on or built in like I see this, but I'm a fairly young mixed heritage person. However, I guess you and your background, I guess obviously you I guess are able to cover some blind spots that perhaps I have, but also I know the rest of the business. So a lot of the lens that we have really looked through traditionally in most businesses said are pretty similar, have been through gender, I guess with my lived experience, maybe from socioeconomic background and ethnicity. But I think you was able to compliment what we kind of already had visibility of and was already thinking about, I guess with your own experiences and perspectives that you could add there. So I thought that was quite powerful to make it a more rounded conversation.
Toby Mildon: Yeah, absolutely. So I think, obviously the Diversity Includes Everyone Workshop that we did was trying to move away from compliance like you were saying, and it's really about helping people understand that diversity really does include everybody. It's not about those people over there at arms length distance which I think can often lead to people feeling like, well, this just isn't a topic for me or it doesn't apply to me. But we really should be focusing on inclusion and how managers create or role model the behaviors that create those kind of inclusive work environments for teams. So once we've had that conversation, we then do a deep dive into what we mean by bias, privilege, and micro incivilities or microaggressions. And then we finish off the conversation about, well, how can actually a more inclusive culture help your organization grow? What's that growth look like? And if you have them, how does it align with and support your values, your stated values? What are some of the early signs or results that you are seeing from us having rolled out that workshop a few times now?
Darren DuPorter: I think one of the early signs is just actually seeing particular sorts of demographics that perhaps felt that it wasn't a space for them to engage with, kind of now leaning in. So being perfectly honest, and I've said, I've seen this across many businesses, BGF is no different. I guess you can get White men that, especially if they're heterosexual or kind of fit in, that they're excluded from the conversation or it's not about them or they don't have a voice. But I guess that understanding of... I guess diverse includes everybody and everybody has their own kind of differences. Them feeling that they are part of it and have an important role to play and their voices do count, I think is helpful. I think also holding up the mirror a little bit as well, so you talk around words like privilege, a lot of people tend to be quite scared of the words because people kind of think, well, my life hasn't been easy and I've worked hard to get where I am and I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth, all of these kind of misconceptions of what privilege is, people get quite defensive. But once you're able to break that down like you was able to, and people actually really understand the context and what it means, and I guess that touched on some key points around equity. It allows for, it's that real discovery and quality conversations and for us to move beyond that initial point of resistance.
Toby Mildon: Yeah, absolutely. I'm really glad to hear that those are some of the conversations that are starting to happen within the company. The other bit of work that we did together, which was really interesting, was working with your relatively new diversity network. Could you just explain a bit about the... I suppose, what that network does and why you got me into... To start working with the network?
Darren DuPorter: Yeah, so I guess it's not so much a network. So BGF has had 15 offices across the UK and Ireland We have around 184 people that work for us. It's that the kind of ERG type model I kind of understood quite quickly, probably wasn't quite appropriate because of, it's that, the size and separation in terms of geographies that we have. There was a lot of passion and interest in moving the dial around all things diversity and inclusion. So we created a diversity action group, which I guess probably acts more like a committee than a network. And I guess from my previous experience, both with networks and committees is that you need to kind of bring people together in terms of a new group. It's that lots of different people and functions represented. So the way it's created is actually through function so that we can kind of build in ED&I by design into our everyday ways of working systems and processes. So when you bring in such a broad group of people, I think bringing you in, I think helped as part of like a bonding. So I guess aligning everybody on their why, in terms of engagement, all of this stuff that you'd expect as a new group, but also focus the mind around what we wanted to achieve and objectives within that group that's still grounded in reality.
Darren DuPorter: 'Cause there's different people that you have to meet where they are, different expectations. You get some people that think that we can solve it in six months, others that perhaps don't think it's something that really can be achieved. So I guess getting everybody aligned to one mission and equipping them with, I guess, some baseline tools and resources to help us go out and actually enact this change. And yeah, happy to talk you through some of the successes we've had already, but it made a big difference those few sessions that you originally ran.
S4: If your company has a great diversity and inclusion strategy, if your organization has an amazing work culture where productivity is peaking, if the best talent in your industry are working for you, if all your employees are happy and feel included, then feel free to skip this message for about 30 seconds to continue listening to the podcast interview with Toby. But if you feel that your company is lacking in any one of these areas, your employer reputation is taking a hit. Toby Mildon is one of the UK's leading diversity and inclusion experts, who has helped top companies like Deloitte, the BBC, Sony Pictures, and Centrica, as well as numerous scale of businesses who want an outstanding inclusive culture. To go further in your diversity and inclusion journey, log on to Toby's webinar. At www.mildon.co.uk/free-webinar to accelerate your company's diversity and inclusion strategy in 40 minutes. Thanks for listening. And now back to the podcast interview with Toby.
Toby Mildon: So just to recap, we got the whole of the action group together and we spent a couple of hours together one morning. I know we did lots of different exercises. So some of it was about envisioning why the group exists so that the purpose of the group... All the way through to some of the practical stuff about actually what does an effective group look like and what does an effective group do, before, or during, and after its meetings as well in order to have the maximum impact that it's had. So, I mean, having run some of these sessions with the diversity action group, what are some of the early success signs that you're seeing?
Darren DuPorter: I think trust is the big key one, right? I think bringing a group together and particularly sorts of topics. Sometimes there's a mistrust that actually do people believe in this stuff or they just align themselves to it because it looks good.
Toby Mildon: Yeah.
Darren DuPorter: But I think those sessions really keep the group together and you could clearly see the kind of personal connection that people have to this stuff and why it's important to them. So I think that trust was built quite early, which I think has helped with the running and chairing of the group. I think the focus around impact and the synergies between actions across the group and businesses 'cause that, this is not just a group that it's just talking about stuff generally. It's not just about HR and recruitment, it is about facilities, marketing, deal cycle, like everything that we do. And therefore, I guess it's been great to actually see advancements across all of those areas. But also moving at slightly different paces and requiring support from different areas to be able to realize that. So we've seen some early signs, although it's probably only been about four months or so, but I think the group is functioning very well. Motivation is high and we're already starting to enact some change, which is slightly quicker than perhaps we anticipated.
Toby Mildon: That's really good to hear and I'm glad that the group are making the impact 'cause when I met them, they are a highly motivated bunch of people who actually want to make a positive difference in the firm. The last bit of work that we have been doing together is one-to-one coaching. So I know this is a bit of a leading question, but how have you found coaching as a HR professional yourself?
Darren DuPorter: It takes a little bit of adjustment, right? Like I said, a lot of roles I've done, you kind of tend to be in these standalone roles, right? Where you have to try to figure it out, I guess, people coming to you as the person that is the sole source of information and guidance and advice. So it's been really quite, I guess, liberating to have somebody else that you can throw ideas around with and you can get their advice and views and sense check the way that you are going about stuff. So it was nice to feel that you have somebody else on your side that can help advise and guide you and I said, sometimes that's confirmation, sometimes that's pulling you back a little bit and giving you time to really think and reflect. So for me it's been really helpful as a great use of support and my own kind of development.
Toby Mildon: Yeah, that's great. I suppose my own coaching style is that, I lead with coaching but then at a point I'm happy to share my own sort of personal experiences and thoughts as well because I can bring that experience having worked in organizations and work with lots of clients across lots of different sectors, there's lots of best practice that I can share with my clients. So obviously coaching is very powerful because the premise of coaching is that you already have the answers somewhere within you, they just need somebody to help kind of pull those solutions out. But then I can share best practice with you afterwards as well.
Darren DuPorter: Yeah, well, also you have a really good manner, Toby, as well in terms of where you do that, I think you've got a good balance between kind of like support and challenging. So again, with this space sometimes where you're seen as the all-knowing source of information, you don't get many people that push back too strongly and it's nice to have somebody that I guess can do that. 'Cause there's times where that's necessary.
Toby Mildon: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, what would've been some of your biggest lessons of us working together so far in the DNI space.
Darren DuPorter: I quite like your reminders actually of kind of meeting people where they are, right? I guess sometimes when you're entrenched in this stuff and you're having similar conversations or challenges over and over again, sometimes you can feel that this stuff is self-explanatory and that like it needs to just be moved on. So I guess almost an element of impatience, whereas I think you've been quite good at actually helping me to step back at times and saying actually, yeah, you have to meet people where they are and it shouldn't be a given that this is obvious and then therefore actually taking a bit more time to reflect or to let these people come on that journey could be beneficial in the long run. So it's been helping to get that perspective. 'Cause sometimes when you're so deep into something, sometimes you lose that at all.
Toby Mildon: Yeah, that's a really good point actually. I think when we're working on diversity and inclusion, we get so ingrained in the detail and I think it's very easy for us to take for granted that we know exactly what we mean when we talk about bias or privilege or anti-racism or you name it. But it's easy to forget that other people in their day-to-day work just don't think about this stuff day-to-day. And so it is important that you meet them where they're at and then hold their hand on that journey going forward. So that's a really good point. What else have you learned from the work that we've done together? So either the diversity includes Everyone Workshop, the work that we've done with the diversity action group or our one-to-one coaching.
Darren DuPorter: Yeah, so it was interesting actually the learnings and feedback from the diversity includes Everyone kind of workshops. 'Cause you kind of deliver that across a number of different levels in different groups and it was interesting to see how each of those interacted with that stuff differently. And I guess some of the polls and stuff that you did around how people felt or their experiences or their engagement, I think was really interesting insightful in terms of how we build a, I guess, a cohesive ED&I strategy for these different groups. 'Cause again, it kind of highlights the need to not have a one size fits all and a tailored approach because it says a lot of these demographics and people, it said have different views and different experiences and have different needs. So it was just interesting to see, especially as somebody externally coming to do this stuff, where naturally that relationship is quite different from us trying to get that information as an internal HR function. So I guess some learnings and lessons taken away from that around some things that perhaps we didn't think was as much of issue or challenge, whether it was knowledge or people's perceptions, that was really helpful.
Toby Mildon: Okay. That's really, that's brilliant. That's really great to hear. Well Darren, thank you ever so much for taking time out of your day today. I know just before we hit the record button on this episode, I know that you said you're basically in hours of back-to-back meetings, so I know you've got a very busy job. So thanks ever so much for taking the time out to have a chat with us and to share your learning journey that you've been on in the diversity and inclusion space with our listeners so that they can learn from you as well. So thank you very much.
Darren DuPorter: Thank you very much, Toby, and said, thanks for your help and support. It's been priceless in our journey and I know we've got a continued relationship with the coaching and other training you're doing with us as a business and I'm sure you'll be able to help us achieve our goal of really being a kind of leading light in the private equity and financial services market around kind of inclusion and diversity. Thank you very much.
Toby Mildon: You're very welcome. Thanks. Cheers. Take care. And thank you for tuning into this episode of the Inclusive Growth Podcast with Darren and myself. If you do need any help on your own diversity and inclusion journey, then please do reach out to us through our website, which is www.mildon.co.uk. Until then, take good care of yourself.
Speaker 1: Thank you for listening to the Inclusive Growth Show. For further information and resources from Toby and his team, head on over to our website at mildon.co.uk.