Danielle Ofek is the founder and leader of Parliament 51 DEI and is a business strategy expert.

How important is Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) and what are the advantages to a diverse team in the workplace?
This is an excellent question. Nobody in the history of business has ever been asked to make a business case for sameness, yet we are constantly asked to make a case for diversity. We know statistically McKinsey, BCG, and Harvard Business review but also multiple extraordinary successful corporations have demonstrated that having a diverse environment creates a more challenging environment, creates an environment where people will innovate more in order to stay relevant in the market, and be market-competitive you have to innovate. You have to continue to change. Ultimately, the results speak for themselves. I think the latest study demonstrated that organisations in the top quartile for diversity gender, specifically gender diversity presented 21 per cent better revenue statistics than those in the bottom quartile. That is an incredibly valid case for gender diversity and if you add ethnicity into that, even better.

So, ultimately I think the challenge that we have with it is that it is a lot easier to work with people that you know: it is a lot easier to be a team of dudes that all went to the same fraternity. They all like going for beers at the same bar after work. Of course that’s easy. They know each other and they get on their high five after deals, it’s great everyone loves each other but there is nothing different that comes into that environment.

For example, if you introduce a woman into that team, it’s going to be hard for those individuals to interact and she’s probably going to feel a little isolated. Couple of women, OK, all right now we are moving, now if you really dividing the split ultimately all of those individuals are going to start behaving differently, they are going to start thinking differently, they are probably going to start coming up with more debate material, and they are going to be looking at things from different angles. This is what drives a company forward. It’s a very obvious business case. It’s frustrating that anyone still feels like this is like a HR issue. Diversity is something which every business leader, every CEO, and executive suite should be prioritising, if they want to be excellent and profitable.

How does one go about implementing a positive and effective Diversity and Inclusion policy in the workplace?
I believe there are five steps of implementing a positive and effective D&I

1. Start from Day 1 D&I must be embedded in the DNA of your company from Day 1 if you want to build a healthy company where people feel belonging, satisfaction, trust; engage employees, encourage innovation. Diversifying isn’t just about becoming a better employer and customer brand – it offers its own set, especially when it comes to productivity, creativity and ROI (Return of investments).

2. Equal Opportunity Action is required: act for equal opportunities. At P51 we believe you need to start with three pealers – recruitment; retention and promotion – to build an equal company.

3. Data collection is crucial. Companies need to know where they stand with different communities so they can inform what strategies they want to implement in their businesses and then decide how do you tailor the solutions to then create an employee engagement survey and focus group with diverse communities to analyse what they are saying and bring all together to Identifying areas of concerns, creating a picture of how inclusive a business is. Data absolutely is tackling the issue. And then Release a diversity Report.

4. Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion goals. Setting goals with a reachable target is key, short and long term. Google’s parent company Alphabet, Inc. is dedicated to increasing the proportion of “leadership representation of underrepresented groups” overall by 30% at the company by 2025. Setting a time frame keeps companies on track and accountable. Some examples of diversity goals include: working with Black-owned businesses (AT&T); individual employees setting diversity goals (Expedia); increasing diversity in leadership (Facebook); creating an Inclusion & Diversity Advisory Board (GM); Increasing bring from underrepresented communities (Intel).

5. Maintenance of Diversity and Inclusion is a key to success. It is not nice to have, it is a MUST to have. It is a business case. Diversity will help to hire the best talent, increase productivity, and understand your customers because you will be able to market your business to those from different backgrounds that reflect those that are already working. And by having a diverse and inclusive workforce and maintaining it successfully, this ultimately will lead to higher revenues. Keep on going and maintain a diverse and inclusive working environment. Identifying areas of concerns.

You are also Co-Founder and the Leader of Parliament51 (P51). What is P51 and what is its mission?
Parliament 51 is an innovative social impact initiative aiming to achieve equality for all, starting with gender equality and equal opportunities in the workplace. We strive to foster synergy in all fields of action, in order to leverage and maximise social and business activities that will help narrow leadership gender gaps and diversity and inclusion workplace gaps. At P51 we operate in multiple activities to drive equality worldwide. We established an international community of influential top executives in their field. We are working with companies to narrow gender gaps and equal opportunities to minorities.

What guides us is? First of all, working towards one shared united vision, equal opportunities for women and around this constant we want as many different, diverse industries, people, expertise, gender as possible. We’ve developed a unique methodology called “Design Equality” which is applied through different creative tools, such as the creation of working groups across companies and across industries, knowledge and information sharing, etc.

On either a personal or professional level what do you consider to have been your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement is the ability to build P51 which is a social impact initiative from scratch and successfully harness more than 70 diverse corporates and their management globally to join our vision and to increase the number of women in leadership positions by 5% every year in the companies that participate in our decision-makers program). And now I am very satisfied that we are starting a new program DIIP for companies. I believe that my own diverse background is an amplifier for our activities in Parliament51. I had different roles in investment houses with strong finance abilities. I am an expert in Partnership, Business development, Business Strategy, transformation & Innovation and DEI. I’m a tech entrepreneur, I founded startups. I have a disabilities. I called: ‘Allabilities’. I’m a mother of 3 kids (3 Future Changemakers). I’m a lesbian. All of this gave me the ability to understand a wide range of populations. This is exactly the blend I wish to import into the workplace.

It can be argued that LGBTQ+ rights in the workplace have improved in recent years. What more needs to be done?
I agree there is progress but unfortunately, we have so much more to be done. I believe inclusion is the right thing to do!

1. Role models are incredibly important – “You can’t be what you can’t see” Celebrate your inclusive leadership, in order to be visible for others.

2. It’s about inclusion – The ability to bring your whole self to work and if you can bring yourself to the workplace you will be more effective, more productive. Diana Ellsworth, partner at McKinsey said, “Every time we use inclusive language, we give a positive signal: this is a safe environment where LGBTQ+ employees are respected and valued.”

3. There is a lack of inclusive policies to encourage and support LGBTQ+ needs. Companies need to review their policies to ensure they are equal and inclusive for all.