North Highland steps up its diversity and inclusion efforts

07 September 2020 4 min. read

Global consulting firm North Highland has sought to increase its diversity and inclusion efforts throughout 2020. The firm’s networks for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic employees on either side of the Atlantic have been working to address racism in the modern workplace over the course of a number of discussion events.

Global management consulting firm North Highland is known for helping clients solve their most complex challenges related to customer experience, performance improvement, technology and digital, and transformation. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, the US based firm has almost 1,500 consultants worldwide, including a large presence in the UK.

As discussions on racism in society and the workplace continue in both the US and UK, North Highland has looked to use the situation as an opportunity to confront biases present in its workplace, and those of its clients, as well as to promote diversity and inclusion (D&I). In the US, this saw the transformation consultancy strengthen its D&I efforts by promoting Dianne Bernez to Associate Vice President – in order to lead the deployment of a comprehensive strategy spanning multiple internal and external touch-points.

North Highland steps up its diversity and inclusion efforts

Bernez’s global role will have primary responsibility for ensuring the firm achieves its D&I goals, while providing guidance for how North Highland approaches problem-solving for clients through an inclusion and diversity lens, define a formal approach to supplier diversity, and launch a new initiative related to procurement and vendor spend. She will also support employee resource groups like the US’ Black Employee Network; the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) network in the UK; Women in North Highland; Pride Alliance; and Veterans at North Highland.

In the US, North Highland’s Black Employee Network (BEN) works to provide a community within the firm with a network to develop professional and personal connections, while creating an environment of learning and belonging for all the company’s staff. The London BAME community came as a result from conversations between UK colleagues and the BEN group in the US. While the North Highland London office was in the heart of the city, the office soon realised that it did not reflect the diversity of the city itself.

Explaining the origins of the BAME network on North Highland’s website, one member explained, “We wanted to create a community for ethnic minorities to provide support, check in with people and help those individuals starting with North Highland, provide encouragement and more. Last year, we made the decision to change the name to BAME to align with the names of similar ethnic minority groups within other organisations in the UK. Our hope for the BAME community is to create awareness for other colleagues who are interested and want to know more a create a space for people to ask the uncomfortable questions.”

The London wing of North Highland’s diversity drive is currently hosting a number of discussions which hope to address precisely these “uncomfortable questions,” with the BAME network member adding that “change can’t happen if these conversations don’t happen.” This is because of the often unseen and unspoken biases which many staff still hold – possibly not even consciously. By having conversations around these issues, the hope is that North Highland can have a “truly have an inclusive setting.”

Earlier in the year, this saw North Highland’s BAME network in the London office host a discussion event titled ‘Let’s Talk About Racism.’ The event highlighted the importance of talking about racism in the workplace, manifestations of racism, overcoming individual biases, how individuals can get to enact change and more. The network built upon this by hosting a series of similar discussions around discussing privilege, microaggression, unconscious bias and other themes throughout August.

North Highland also features a number of other D&I networks in its offices. The firm’s Pride Alliance provides staff with a network to connect and support our LGBTQ+ community, while Women in North Highland works to drive progress for women in the workplace, helping to establish a strong reputation as a great place to work for women. Veterans at North Highland meanwhile is a support group and advocacy for the military veterans  and families of North Highland.