Let’s not beat around the bush. The inequities in diversity and inclusion are long-standing issues. They’re riddled in just about every institution and industry—but are especially prolific in the workplace.
A recent study by Culture Shift found that 48% of Britain’s workforce think their employer could improve their diversity—with 58% of employees from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds (BAME) agreeing. 41% of employees also said their organisation’s make “token gestures” that feel surface level – Kiltered aims to help businesses dig a little deeper.
So, we were incredibly excited to talk with Morag Ofili, Lawyer and Founder of Kiltered—a diversity and inclusion consultancy that offers strategic advice to balance a company’s external and internal messaging.
Kiltered offers something unique and exciting; bespoke, strategic advice that helps companies break the status quo. Their approach is refreshing in that they don’t just see D&I as a tick-box exercise but a real opportunity for leadership teams to do better.
Morag gave some invaluable insights into how Kiltered empowers companies to create an inclusive environment where everyone feels comfortable participating—and this is where you can really reap the benefits. Take it away, Morag!
Hi, Morag! Thanks for chatting with us. First up, it would be great if you could give us a quick intro about yourself and what Kiltered is all about.
Morag: Sure! I’m a lawyer and Founder of Kiltered—a diversity and inclusion consultancy that strategically helps bring balance and positive internal change to a company’s workplace culture, both internally and externally.
I began my career at the Criminal Bar, and I’m currently an employed barrister at Harbottle and Lewis—a boutique London law firm known for its media, entertainment and private client work.
I’ve always been passionate about diversity and inclusion. I’m a committee member of the Black Barristers’ Network, and I am a director of a woman’s network called Broad Minded—which supports ambitious women. I’ve always been involved in many support and advisory-type initiatives, and Kiltered is the latest one!
So, you started Kiltered last year! What was your reasoning behind that?
Morag: I felt like companies, in particular, were still struggling to have the difficult conversations required to make real progress in respect of diversity and inclusion. I think this struggle manifests in many ways—
whether it’s out of fear of getting it completely wrong, not knowing where to begin or just not understanding what the issues are.
I recognised there were a myriad of different things that are preventing organisations from moving forward. And this sat at odds with the outward messaging of companies who were saying things like, “We’re committed to D&I, and we’re a progressive workplace”, but the internal picture and energy didn’t quite match. It’s off-kilter.
And that’s how ‘Kiltered’ came about—it’s like a play on words. It’s a nod to the word ‘Kilter’, which means “balance” or “the state of working well”. So, we want to help businesses find balance in terms of how they approach these topics so that the internal actions match the external commitment and desire to be better.
And what are some of the services you provide? Can you talk to us a little bit about the D&I Strategic Toolkit?
Morag: Definitely. I fundamentally believe that we should treat diversity and inclusion like every other business problem. If you’re losing employees, customers or not attracting the right talent—then you’re losing money.
So, we want people to feel more comfortable looking at D&I in the same way they’d look at any other business issue—and we do this by providing strategic advice and helping companies build their own bespoke plan. I work with them to identify areas of improvement through data analytics, reviewing information in the public domain and speaking to the business.
Once a plan is in place, it’s over to them to implement it. The whole point of Kiltered is to empower businesses to understand their organisations better—and keep them accountable. So, I’ll organise quarterly catch-ups where we’ll get the plan out and assess the progress they’ve made. We’ll also use this as an opportunity to identify any areas where they need additional support.
What types of companies do you work with?
Morag: The clients come from a wide range of sectors, but the one thing they have in common is that they are forward-thinking. They realise that this is something they want to get a hold of, and they’re excited about the offering Kiltered provides. Real change requires a real commitment; it takes a bit of work.
So, if you’re an innovative, dynamic organisation that really wants to grow in these areas, then Kiltered is for you. It’s an important process—not just for understanding your culture or organisation, but who you are as a leader as well.
I’m finding that most business leaders I work with have the dynamic drive to create modern workspaces, whether through diversity and inclusion or sustainability. They accept that just because something is working, it doesn’t mean it isn’t broken. I think companies come to me when they accept they could be doing better.
What are some of the common mistakes you see companies make when it comes to D&I?
Morag: I think it’s very easy to put an intention out there—but it’s a lot harder to implement that and put it into practice. I think it’s a common occurrence that people will sit down and say, “Inclusion is on our agenda. It’s really important to us. Write that down”, and the conversation stops there.
I think it often gets put into the “too-hard” box, and companies will promise to come back to it later. But once you’ve brushed it to the side, it isn’t easy to bring it back.
Another common, and perhaps the biggest mistake, is not talking to your existing employees. They’re a crucial part of your culture—they’ve lived and breathed your organisation, and there’s value in speaking with them. You could do this through anonymous surveys, focus groups or anything that allows you to find out how you could do better.
You know, I think many companies are afraid of the answer to that question. But it’s invaluable. That very fear that stops companies from actually getting some honest live feedback.
And finally, what are three things companies could do tomorrow to improve their diversity?
Morag: The first thing would be to make a plan. Make a plan that identifies where you are now and where you’d like to be. Next, you’ll want to engage your employees. You’d be surprised at the positivity your existing workforce will have towards wanting to improve things in your organisation! And the final tip would be to not to be afraid of the data. HR holds a lot of information that is often not analysed. You may be surprised that you’re better in certain areas than you first thought or that the problem is somewhere that you didn’t actually realise. You could do so many things, but assessing the current state of play is a great place to start!
Thanks so much, Morag—and best of luck with Kiltered.
Want to learn more? Morag will be speaking at the Legal Geek Conference in October 2021.