• September 25, 2023

Diversity and Inclusion

 Diversity and Inclusion
Photo: Malcolm Griffiths

“Diversity is being asked to the party; inclusion is being invited to dance.” As the tobacco and nicotine products industries undergo a period of transition, leadership needs to change too. During the Women in Tobacco meeting at the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum (GTNF) 2021, panelists looked at how diversity and inclusion can contribute to this transformation. “If the industry doesn’t embrace diversity at all levels—not only on the management board—if it doesn’t adapt, then it will sadly shrink and die,” said Nermeen Varawalla, chief medical officer and head of clinical development at pharmaceutical company Atlantic Healthcare. “Within the industry, players who adapt will be the winners and the forerunners.”

Carlista Moore Conde, group head of new sciences at BAT, left Procter and Gamble after 20 years and joined BAT in order to become part of this transformation process. BAT, she confirmed, was quite serious about change. With these vectors of difference, as she called them, she had to learn how to quickly build familiarity with people that perhaps wouldn’t necessarily interact with someone like her, a female scientist with an African-American background in a leadership role. She found she could solve this issue by being proactive in joining with coworkers and sharing her story as a way to connect.

Diversity, behavioral scientist and consultant Lawrence Kutner pointed out, often was defined in too narrow terms, referring mostly to the phenotype. However, diversity was about effectiveness, insight, taking advantage about multiple perspectives. “When we use that word, ‘diversity,’ we tend to oversimplify and lose sight of the goal. So that’s one of the things that I, in running organizations, try to consciously avoid.”

Introducing her new book, Leading with Love—Rehumanizing the Workplace, Karen Blakeley, an independent academic, leadership coach and teacher, said inclusion was about respecting people and caring for them; about seeing people and their motivations; about hearing their perspective and including it into one’s worldview. “If you have tons of diversity and got no inclusion, then nothing is going to change,” she stressed. Organizations should be serving humanity and not the other way around. In the research for her book, Blakeley asked her network to nominate someone who was leading with love. While most people couldn’t think of any example, the few nominees all had “roots, values, mission and purpose.” “It was not about their career and success—they got a ‘why,’ a larger mission.” The trunk, she explained, was character. “Character building is about controlling your own needs. If you have achieved this, leading with love is embodied. You make difficult, brave decisions. You yield power, and everyone who is really interested in creating diverse and inclusive workplaces needs to learn how to use power.”