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Champions for Change Conference 2017

Champions for Change Conference 2017

Enabling innovation through diversity & inclusion.

Rachel Hugo, Partner, Aerospace & Defence, KPMG UK

Partner, Aerospace & Defence

KPMG in the UK


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Champions for Change Conference 2017

Diversity & inclusion: Enabling transformation and innovation in a rapidly changing world

On 9 October 2017, over 100 people from across the public and private sector held a Champions for Change conference to discuss how diversity & inclusion can enable transformation and innovation.

The conference began with a lively panel discussion moderated by Rachel Hugo (Sponsoring Partner for Women in Aerospace, Defence & Security, KPMG UK). Click here for a full list of our panellists.

The keynote was delivered by Edwina Dunn, co-founder of Dunnhumby. 


Key takeaways from the conference:

  • No matter the size and type of organisation, it’s never too early to plan for gender diversity and build this into the hiring process.
  • Applying best practice, such as name-blinding recruitment, can make a meaningful difference to your organisation.
  • Encouraging a diversity of thinking is central to fostering innovative and creative work environments.

A more detailed brief:

There’s no ‘one size fits all’ for diversity

  • Diversity can mean different things to different organisations; Kate O’Neill suggested that ensuring everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their potential could be a unifying principle.
  • Alison Atkinson spoke about the importance of not isolating male colleagues from the diversity & inclusion agenda through careful communication, while Alison Stevenson talked about ensuring the agenda fits everyone’s needs, rather than a particular group.


Diversity of talent enables a diversity of thinking and innovation

  • Melanie Richards spoke of how ‘we are only as good as the people we have in our organisation,’ and how she personally tailors meetings to get the best out of different people.
  • Inclusivity can encourage challenge and new thinking. Hugh Durrant-White spoke of how diverse thinking is central to encouraging innovative environments and the importance of encouraging a ‘mentality of experimentation.’
  • Diversity of thinking was seen as key to minimising the risk of group think, helping to ensure organisations can innovate.
  • Edwina Dunn shared her experience of building a company that was 50% female during its growth phase, employing highly skilled individuals in a competitive, challenging international market. Dunnhumby’s focus on the use of data mining and analysis to improve customer retail experience most famously led to the introduction of Tesco Clubcard.


Improving access for women at every level

  • Encouraging girls to aspire towards STEM careers from an early age was seen as key for tackling gender diversity in STEM industries. Panellists shared personal experiences of how those closet to them had provided the early encouragement they needed.
  • Edwina Dunn spoke about her project ‘The Female Lead’ which has been set up to showcase inspiring female role models to encourage women and girls to think differently about their potential.
  • ‘Golden escalators’ were seen as a challenge in industry, where certain jobs that enable leap frogging to the top might be more accessible to some individuals than others.
  • Smaller business can have greater freedom than large corporations to try new approaches to gender diversity. But there were practical changes everyone can make: Kate O’Neill described how name-blinding recruitment exercises in the civil service have been effective at tackling unconscious bias during the hiring process.  

A ‘Street Fair’ then took clients on a career journey – from making investments in early careers through to Women in Engineering Communities and STEM, via mentoring and career transitions.

Click here to find out more about our Street Fair exhibitors and the programmes that are making a difference to working lives in Aerospace & Defence.

Rachel Hugo, Sponsoring Partner for KPMG’s Women in Aerospace, Defence & Security network said:

“Diversity and Inclusion is a critical agenda in Aerospace, Defence and Security and related sectors such as Technology, both in the private and public sphere. An inclusive and diverse workforce, free to focus on new thinking, is becoming increasingly seen as a key way of ensuring that organisations remain as innovative as possible and are able to transform. The fact that KPMG are facilitating this important discussion in this sector is something the firm can be proud of”.


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