Bianca Tudor, CEO & Founder of Elite Business Women, a 10,000-strong organisation supporting women around the world, has been in an entrepreneur mindset since starting her first job at 19. Today, she is an advocate for women in business, equality, diversity, and inclusion, and a better workplace in the post-Covid-19 world.
1. How do you see the ‘new normal’ in the workplace? What are some of the steps you are taking to prepare employees for this new reality as they are returning to work?
Bianca Tudor: Normal in the workplace is something that in the developed economies was a habit – teleworking, digitalisation for companies, organisational culture, employees benefits, and working with an Action Plan and KPIs.
I think the first step is to reinforce the brand identity – mission, vision, values – and make sure all employees are committed to it. Then create a healthy, people-orientated organisational culture, invest in your people and make sure you give them permission to really make a contribution.
Last, but not least, business means structure, KPIs, performance, and profitability, and all employees should be part of that.
2. As we are rebuilding the workplace now, how can companies put equality, diversity, and inclusion at the core of their HR strategies? What are some of the things employers can do to make the workplace more inclusive?
Bianca Tudor: It is a period of rebirth, rebuilding, and new beginnings. We cannot come after Covid-19 with the same practices in business. I think quotas on diversity/equality would only reinforce the gaps, the positive discrimination feeling, and the segregation between men and women.
What we need to change is the approach, not the goal! Start by training your employees on the benefits that diversity and equality will have on THEM. We are self-centred as human beings. Think about the infusion of talent, knowledge, and skills that diversity and equality will have on your team and company. For every 1% increase in diversity, your company revenues will increase by 3%. We need to make sure we educate before we regulate.
3. How do you create a work culture where people embrace equality, diversity, and inclusion?
Bianca Tudor: It is always difficult to embrace the fact that we are so different, in race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation, in a world in which we crave for the feeling of being accepted and loved. What we need to start doing is to understand that we have some social stereotypes on automatic pilot. For example, a mature woman, of 50+, will sometimes discriminate against a young, beautiful woman on a job interview, unintentionally. Make sure you know that and reinforce your rational thinking.
In a social study in Australia, white people were caught involuntary misjudging people of colour in psychology tests. And when presented with the results, they were amazed by the fact that they may display racist behaviour.
Secondly, people should enjoy basic education/training on the positive results we see when we embrace equality, diversity, and inclusion. We have to present people with even more role models from the discriminated-against categories – people of colour, disabled individuals, young women, elderly people (they have huge challenges in the workplace), and people from the LGBTQ+ community.
For every 1% increase in diversity, your company revenues will increase by 3%. We need to make sure we educate before we regulate.
4. Will flexible working become the norm? How can corporates work around this new reality?
Bianca Tudor: I am a Millennial, therefore have always craved for flexible working hours and to make an impact in the corporations I used to work for. This is how I became an entrepreneur because they were, in the beginning, hiring Millennials but didn’t change fast as a culture to keep up with what my generation was looking for. Now, as an entrepreneur, I have to work with the younger generations and make sure I am able to understand them.
I will advise companies to have a strategy on teleworking, flexible hours, online and offline work, and team buildings; be more clear about their business goals, key target figures, what the company gains by achieving its KPIs, and what they lose when they fail to reach their targets.
5. What can women in business around the world do in order to promote equality in the new workplace?
Bianca Tudor: First, properly educate our girls and boys on equality and make sure we don’t raise our girls to believe in Snow White fairy tales. We need to educate girls to be sharp, determined, to articulate their opinions, and to have a voice. We need to educate boys to treat girls and women as their equals.
We need to involve more men in promoting gender equality and we need to promote more role models in gender equality, the way Canada and the Scandinavian countries have done. We need more women to work together, to be united, and to set a positive example. It all starts with us!
We need to educate girls to be sharp, determined, to articulate their opinions, to have a voice. We need to educate boys to treat girls and women as their equals.