Conduct, Culture and Compliance with Sasha Scott

Since the beginning of 2024, DEI has had its toughest time in the last 15 years, with the topic being scrutinised and weaponised by certain groups. ...

Since the beginning of 2024, DEI has had its toughest time in the last 15 years, with the topic being scrutinised and weaponised by certain groups. Considering this, on the 20th of May 2024, we ran our third Global Webinar, hosted by our CEO & Owner, Stuart Elliott; in partnership with Inclusive Group.

We welcomed Inclusive Group’s Founder and CEO, Sasha Scott to share knowledge from her 24 years of experience in the DEI space and answer questions from our community. Sasha is considered an expert in her field; she has appeared on the BBC and has been published in multiple newspapers. She understands the commercial drivers behind reducing bias within the workplace and the critical need to promote and sustain an inclusive workplace culture.

You can watch the full webinar recording above.


Key Takeaways:

Diversity, a ‘Dirty’ Word

Sasha openly stated that she does not believe diversity to be a ‘dirty’ word, although she explained due to the DEI acronym being weaponised and politicised as a flawed ideology, there is discrepancy around the word. Looking deeper into this phrase if we agree that diversity is a ‘dirty’ word, it could be perceived that we are then tarnishing everyone with the same brush as everyone is diverse in their own way. 

Sasha continued to explain that there should still be a focus on the fundamental purpose of DEI initiatives; addressing structural inequality and recognising that smart people are everywhere, coming from diverse backgrounds with different start points in life. If organisations embrace this idea, they can create environments that allow people to thrive and flourish. 

Prompted by the first question asked by our host an audience member proceeded to query the concept of the woke community and its appropriation of DEI. The term ‘woke’ stems from having an awakening to injustice, although again this term has been politicised and used to extremes, giving it negative connotations. In the business world being ‘woke’ should mean you are doing good work in this space and as an organisation, are committed to looking at talent acquisition, talent optimisation and culture through a justice lens. Looking at talent through a justice lens allows you to hire a diverse team, which brings cognitive diversity into the workplace, meaning there are multiple different perspectives on tasks. 


Reverse Discrimination

The audience continued to participate by asking questions to gain knowledge from Sasha’s expertise. A question was asked regarding discrimination within DEI, the participant stated that as a ‘middle-aged white man’ he has been turned away from roles as organisations want to consider someone that fits a diversity bracket; he then proceeded to ask how we can normalise DEI actions so that diversity does not become another extreme as divisive as the one it wants to eliminate.

Unfortunately, there is a feeling that the pendulum for diverse talent has swung too far in the opposite direction and there is now unintentional discrimination against groups that are not seen to be as diverse. The best advice given around this was to make sure that DEI is embedded into an organisation’s ‘business as usual’ strategy and focus on future-proofing business needs to be inextricably linked with DEI. This will guarantee that strategies that reflect talent acquisition will recognise minority talent and have healthy cultures, meaning the right person for the job secures the role. 

Sasha continued to acknowledge that the situation demonstrated above could be seen as a form of reverse discrimination, but we recognised that there is a responsibility for boards to be more reflective on society and that there is an expectation for them to have more diversity, in which case, the table needs to be bigger. 


Sexism in the City

The Workers Protection Amendment of Equality Act 2012 to 2023 comes into force in October 2024 in the UK. This act marks a significant change of focus in the legislation, from redress to prevention and introduces a new duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent the sexual harassment of their employees. It also gives the Employment Tribunals the power to uplift sexual harassment compensation by up to 25% where an employer is found to have breached the new duty, in serious cases this can be up to £50,000 in compensation. 

The legislation aims to create working cultures that feel safe, where people can call out others’ poor behaviour, by putting more onus on employers to take significant steps. This can help to create an environment where people can use their voices to speak out against unacceptable behaviours, and instances are more likely to be addressed early on rather than being allowed to fester and worsen. 


The Rise in Employee Voice

There has been a trend on social media recently where employees are posting videos of themselves being let go from their roles. This can be unfavourable for an organisation’s brand image; even if the company has taken all of the necessary steps in this situation consumers are more likely to feel empathetic to the ex-employee than the company. 

The social media trend could also be related to intergenerational working and attitudes. This brought questions to Sasha about the motivations of new hires and how this differs between the generations within the workforce. With 5 generations working simultaneously, social media caries enormous voice and weight regarding where people decide to work. According to a survey by Glassdoor, 77% of their new hires will consider the company culture before applying for a job, a huge portion also said that culture is more important to them than compensation, which means companies need to be purposeful about their values, and authenticity.

With multiple generations spanning the current workforce, workplaces are polarised into different generational factions which has induced a lack of attention being placed on inclusion and valuing different perspectives and ideas. Unfortunately, there has been much more emphasis on cancel culture and more ‘you’re wrong, I’m right’ causing a fracturing culture. Employees and employers alike need to work harder at listening to each other more, this is fundamental.

Sasha finished this section of the webinar by saying; if we can achieve more understanding and inclusion between the different generations by listening and recognising employee voice matters, we can start to move into an environment that future-proofs businesses. 


Reporting on DEI

A question was then asked by our audience around reporting of the DEI process. Sasha referenced a Supreme Court ruling in the US ensuring organisations address and account for any initiatives they do to help marginalised, minority or under-represented talent, making sure those are equitable and fair. This highlights that data has to be used as an important tool for a start point and aspirational target. 

Currently, within the DEI space, the focus is on measuring culture. Organisations need to discover what good looks like for them, this could be measured as a score on an inclusion index that operates annually or semi-annually. Dependant on the organisation may depend on what they want to report on. Presently, we are seeing an enormous emphasis on the neuro-divergent community and what we need to do to enable workplaces to be more inclusive in that field, consequently companies may want to stress the importance of reporting for this community. Other companies may look at underrepresented groups looking at race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality, meaning there is representation across the organisation, not just C-suite. When looking at underrepresented groups, many companies are trying to keep a balance in the ratio of men to women, although there needs to be a consideration that there could be a decline in the number of women in an organisation at points due to childcare commitments and maternity leave. 

Sasha stated that organisations should be rigorous about data, know what good looks like to them, be more transparent and use any data collected to form a DEI plan that spans over 5 to 10 years and is consistently re-evaluated for a greater chance at success. 


Inclusive Leadership in a Polarised World

In a polarised world, a leader needs to be open to being fallible and compassionate to understand deeply what empathy is and to create environments where people feel safe around them. A leader needs to be aware of their own biases and recognise where they’re going wrong, apologise, listen, and learn. Too often leaders get caught in a loop where they don’t feel open to hearing feedback about their behaviour and see it as criticism. 

As the conversation flowed, Sasha spoke a lot about listening, and the huge part it can play  in reassuring employees that they can feel psychologically safe in their working environment. To listen, someone must speak and if people aren’t speaking out, could this be because they’re afraid of saying the wrong thing?


Neurodiversity in the Workplace 

Many companies are beginning to look into neurodiversity more; some people have a diagnosis, others don’t want to get diagnosed and many don’t want to tell their employer about it, so it becomes a tricky area to police. Creating a neuro-inclusive work environment starts with management; going back to the listening piece, making sure that managers are comfortable to have questions put to them and are proactively listening so employees feel comfortable to speak about what they need. 

Employers can benefit from creating a neuro-inclusive workplace by welcoming everybody and by recognising that some people are going to have different needs. Small tweaks can be made to a person’s day to make working easier for them, such as not turning cameras on during a video call, or more working from home days. When managers lead with empathy, compassion and low fear, they can ask questions and create environments where people are friendly, inclusive and open, allowing the organisation to optimise environments for effective working.

A huge thank you to Sasha for facilitating such an inciteful discussion around DEI. Sasha is a valued partner of Elliott Scott HR and you can check out previous work we’ve done with Sasha here. If you would like to continue the discussion, please reach out directly to her on LinkedIn or email at

For any further information on the HR market or for any queries about HR roles, connect with Stuart Elliott via LinkedIn or at