My story starts in Malaysia; I have Chinese and Malay heritage. Once I secured my law qualifications, I spent my early career performing pro-bono work for migrant workers in the country. The importance of fairness and equality has remained with me since those early days. Those principles have helped shape my approach to tackling complex, large scale and strategic transformation projects at Liberty Global, which I joined way back in 2002.
I was appointed Liberty’s first Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) Officer last year and am passionate about raising the profile of DE&I issues and placing our new strategy at the core of the company’s purpose.
We have been active in this area previously but now is the time to co-ordinate our efforts and bring more cohesion to our plans. There is momentum for cultural change, and this is being supported by our senior leadership team as well as being influenced by our grassroots organisation. We acknowledge that our organisation is continuously evolving but we are also taking in to account external factors in our thinking and our approach, such as social justice movements.
We know this work is essential for our business success and that cultural change needs to be embedded in the way we work, in our decision-making, our employee experience and our interactions with customers and suppliers – in fact touching everything we do.
Key tasks and focus
One of my first tasks has been to understand and benchmark the make-up of the company. We are making decisions based on data, to have maximum impact. Next, we have created a cross-functional working group to plan what happens next. Working alongside our CEO, Mike Fries, I co-chair the company’s DE&I Council – a group of 18 leaders who are spearheading this work. We have created collective goals for 2021, which will have meaningful KPIs and our plans will include work on five key pillars including:
• Ability and neurodiversity
• Race & ethnicity
We are currently communicating the what, why, how and when to our 28,000-plus employees, to engage them in our DE&I strategy, programmes and approach.
Inspire and lead
For all our employees, our customers and our communities, we want to stand out and inspire as a leader for diversity, equity, and inclusion, specifically equality of opportunity; making a difference and building connections that bring us together. We will continue to do more, to act more, to be straight up in our approach, and to learn and question ourselves to help make our business stronger.
Equity goes above and beyond treating people equally. It recognises that everyone has a different starting point and support needs. Equity ensures everyone has access to the same opportunities. It recognizes that advantages and barriers exist and that we don’t all start from the same place. It ensures we have a workplace where everyone is included, respected, appreciated and listened to.
Research from McKinsey found that ethnically or racially diverse companies are 35% more likely to financially outperform their peers. They also determined that gender-diverse companies are 21% more likely to outperform in the same way.
A workplace of colleagues who see the world in different ways creates a culture of creativity, innovation and problem solving, which will benefit our customers, colleagues and the business.
I want people to play their part in creating a culture where everyone feels welcome, respected and recognized at work, and indeed proud of the type of company they work for.
During the global pandemic, 2020 was for many organisations about being responsive, adapting and understanding the new normal for work. 2021 will continue to be about creating the right environment for behavioural change and improvement, and taking action. It will be a pivotal year. I’m genuinely excited about the promise of what we can achieve.
(Grace is also on the Board of Directors for Women in Cable Telecommunications.)