An open let­ter to York­shire’s busi­ness lead­ers

Yorkshire Post - Business - - BUSINESS / VOICES - Griselda To­gobo For­ward Ladies’ Man­ag­ing Direc­tor

Iwas in­vited to key­note at the In­sti­tute of Di­rec­tors, Direc­tor of the Year Awards for the York­shire & the North East re­gion and I felt emo­tional yet proud to spon­sor and present the In­clu­sive Lead­er­ship Award at the Awards Cer­e­mony on 5th July which was hosted by Danni Hew­son; BBC Ra­dio Five Live’s busi­ness cor­re­spon­dent.

I en­joyed shar­ing my love and pas­sion for York­shire as my home and how in­clu­sive lead­er­ship can im­prove our com­pet­i­tive­ness and growth as a re­gion.

It was only about eight years ago when I moved to York­shire; I was newly mar­ried and my hus­band had just ac­cepted a role as a trainee doc­tor in the NHS. At the time, my idea of York­shire was quaint vil­lages, end­less mead­ows, York­shire pud­ding, lots of beer and re­ally happy peo­ple. I’ve not been dis­ap­pointed.

In the last eight years, I have had two chil­dren, run two busi­nesses, I’ve made friends, found sup­port­ers, spon­sors and peo­ple I now call fam­ily. I think that it is tes­ta­ment to the com­mu­nity, ac­cep­tance and nur­tur­ing spirit that York­shire pro­vides its peo­ple, and I’m eter­nally grateful that this sound foun­da­tion has en­abled me to grow my busi­ness, now hav­ing a na­tional im­pact and also op­er­at­ing out­side the UK.

I can’t say it’s been the same ex­pe­ri­ence for ev­ery im­mi­grant in York­shire. In Brad­ford we have one of the most di­verse cities in the UK. We have tal­ent on our doorstep that we are not tap­ping into. As much as we are an in­clu­sive so­ci­ety, some­times we can also seem ex­clu­sive and closed to peo­ple we con­sider ‘ out­siders’. As you read the news, you will hear the wor­ry­ing sto­ries of Brexit wars in the cabi­net, busi­nesses fac­ing un­cer­tain­ties and tougher trad­ing con­di­tions in­ter­na­tion­ally, a skills short­age in key tech­ni­cal ar­eas staff as the sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, engi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics sec­tors that are vi­tal to our growth as a na­tion. All the signs sug­gest it is go­ing to get tougher be­fore it gets eas­ier. We need to be ready for the chal­lenges ahead, but how are we go­ing to do that if we are not able to build an in­clu­sive so­ci­ety; a so­ci­ety that taps into 100 per cent of the tal­ent on our doorstep. I think now is the time for us to come to­gether; men

and women, black and white, for the love of our re­gion to de­velop cre­ative so­lu­tions for pro­gress­ing the North­ern Pow­er­house agenda.

So as we cel­e­brate the achieve­ment of our di­rec­tors and re­ward them for the strides they have made, I wanted to leave the lead­ers with two ques­tions:

1.: If you were start­ing your busi­ness to­day, if you were build­ing your team from scratch what would you be do­ing dif­fer­ently? What would your teams look like if your sin­gle fo­cus was to at­tract the best.

What re­cruit­ment and re­ten­tion prac­tices and poli­cies would you put in place in or­der to at­tract the best peo­ple ir­re­spec­tive of the dif­fer­ences we some­times see be­tween each other?

2.: My sec­ond ques­tion to all the lead­ers is what would be your lead­er­ship legacy?

The clock is tick­ing as you sit in that cor­ner of­fice and en­joy the trap­pings of your suc­cess. A day will come when you will walk out of that of­fice for one last time. What do you want your legacy to be? You have an op­por­tu­nity to make a real dif­fer­ence as a leader. How are you go­ing to be re­mem­bered by the teams you lead? How will you be re­mem­bered in the com­pany’s his­tory and in your com­mu­nity? Be­ing in lead­er­ship is an op­por­tu­nity to leave a last­ing legacy. What will your lead­er­ship legacy be? How would you like to be re­mem­bered?

Con­grat­u­la­tions to the In­clu­siv­ity Direc­tor of the year, Tracy Wray, direc­tor of HR and com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the Univer­sity of Sh­effield. Con­grat­u­la­tions also to the short­list; Sharon Nee­dle, man­ag­ing direc­tor at Nee­dle Part­ners, and Adeem You­nis, chair­man of the Penny ap­peal for the fan­tas­tic work they are do­ing to pro­mote di­ver­sity and in­clu­sive cul­tures in their or­gan­i­sa­tions, and many thanks to Natalie

Sykes for a stel­lar event and the in­vi­ta­tion to speak.

I’d like to end with my cur­rent favourite quote from a very fa­mous Bri­tish leader, Sir Win­ston Churchill: “Never waste a good cri­sis.” We live in volatile and uncertain times. We need lead­ers that can step up to the chal­lenge and turn th­ese crises into op­por­tu­ni­ties that will en­able the re­gion to thrive. We need to be able to at­tract much needed tal­ent from across the en­tire UK be­cause if we don’t, Lon­don will.

You have an op­por­tu­nity to make a real dif­fer­ence as a leader.



The Gothic Vic­to­rian spire of the Wool Ex­change dom­i­nates the Brad­ford city cen­tre sky­line.

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