An open letter to Yorkshire’s business leaders
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.