The easiest way to connect with people is to be human. Being human opens the door for vulnerability. When you show vulnerability people can relate.
This is exactly the approach that we have taken in our recently launched DEI learning content. The easy option would have been to source an off-the-shelf educational product but that would have been lazy. Our culture is very unique. We needed to help our community understand things from the perspective of others and what better way to do that than through stories told by our own people.
Being brave is important here and we are so grateful to our colleagues who stepped forward and shared stories about the inequality that they have experienced in the workplace. These people set the tone. They are role models and will hopefully inspire others to start having conversations about what they can do to make things better.
I asked Shola Aminu (Head of DEI) and Steve Wood (Head of People Development) for the background behind our DEI learning content. They explained our approach and how it sets us apart from what you might experience at other organisations.
What is the elevator pitch behind the DEI learning content?
Steve: We’ve created a journey where the objective is to provide our people with support, information, and guidance around what diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) actually mean. This is delivered through our Learning Zone which is part of our intranet. There'll be four separate modules covering diversity, equity, inclusion, and then ‘take action’. The modules feature stories from our colleagues to help define diversity, equity and inclusion and set them in a real-life context. We then start to talk about what the expectations should be – from the perspective of individuals, our teams, our leaders and DAZN as an organisation. We want this learning journey to act as a trigger for further action. At the end of the course, we ask people to make a pledge. This is a voluntary thing, and you can do it anonymously. You can also choose to share your pledge with the wider community across the whole of DAZN.
Storytelling is a big part of this – why did you take this approach?
Shola: Storytelling helps us humanise the topics at hand. So many stories have just reached me organically, and I have felt honoured to be able to showcase a handful of these in a compelling and innovative format for our global business. The stories we’ve selected for this first phase of content are incredibly impactful and harness the hearts and minds of our audience in understanding the importance of DEI and the expectations of our people.
The aim here is to harness the community and inspire people – is that right?
Steve: Our efforts are focused on increasing levels of inclusion across the whole business. We have a very unique culture. We wanted the content to be specific to us rather than lift something off the shelf. So we started from scratch – it’s by DAZN and for DAZN. We often talk about leaders when we talk about our business. A leader doesn't have to be something to do with a hierarchy or an org chart. Our volunteers who shared their stories are leaders in their own right – they opened up and were happy to show a level of vulnerability. This is role-modelling and is the kind of behaviour that we want people to show across DAZN.
Shola: Our people are constantly coming up with new ideas and working out ways of improving what we already do. We have made so much progress from a DEI perspective over the last year and we look forward to continually building on this momentum.
Any advice for people who want to share their story but don’t know how?
Shola: The first hurdle most of us face is bringing our voice into the room. The challenge is getting comfortable with hearing your own voice out loud. Don’t be afraid of bringing your opinions and ideas to the table. Speak loudly. Speak confidently. Shake the table!
There might be people out there who think that they’re not the problem here. What would you say to those people and why should they get involved?
Steve: When we first started looking at this content, we knew there would be different reactions. You can have so many different groups – lots of different people at different stages on their DEI learning journey. People will have an emotional reaction to each story. Rather than just giving our position on a story, we have surfaced different versions of the reaction. There will be certain people who are quite far on in their journey. They're open to consuming all sorts of different content, events and information and that's fantastic.
There will also be some people who've started their journey, but still need support. They might say – OK, I get it, I do understand, but what does that really mean? How can you help me more to discover more in this subject area?
Some people may say - what does that mean to me – and we still have a role there to be supportive and brave enough to have those conversations. We want to help people to get on the path towards being more inclusive, equitable and diversity aware, as part of our culture at DAZN.
Thinking about that learning journey – what comes next? What do we want people to do once they have worked their way through the DEI learning content?
Steve: We are ambitious – this is literally the start of the journey in terms of learning content within DAZN. One thing we will do is take stock and listen to people. Once this content is consumed, people will have thoughts and reactions. They'll have ideas, they'll know where they want to go. This is for people who have been in the business from the beginning, right through to people that have just joined us. We also want to make sure that everyone has an environment where they can go and self-discover and learn at their own pace.
Shola: I want to get people thinking differently, and spark their curiosity. We want to facilitate a conversation to a point where people start referencing the stories and the themes that we have raised in their everyday life away from DAZN.
How does this tie in with our employer brand and our team spirit characteristics (ambitious, inventive, brave, passionate and supportive)?
Steve: Our team spirit characteristics apply to what we want in every aspect of life at DAZN. When it came to the learning content, we knew we had to be ambitious. We knew that we're trying to reach a global audience and we had to do it in a clever way. We had to be inventive to ensure that we brought real stories to life and share those in a quick and digestible format. The end point is that we ask our people to make a pledge – it’s a voluntary thing but we had to be inventive about how we get that into people's everyday lives. We wanted the content to live and breathe the passion that people have for their own personal story. We also had to be brave - this is around making sure that we know that reactions aren't always going to be the same. We had to embrace that and share our thoughts around how people can continue their way on this journey. The overall aim here is that we support each other and recognise that different people need different levels of support. If we nail that then hopefully people will want to share their own stories so their voice is heard – empower them to shake the table regardless of the nature of their work.
We’ve talked about the role of leaders in business – how can they help build on this work?
Shola: I strongly believe that all good business leaders need to have strong empathy muscles. It is important to foster a culture of belonging where people aren't afraid to bring ideas to the table and just be themselves. Authentic role modelling and demonstrating the core elements of inclusive leader behaviour will set everyone at DAZN up for success.