Difest Speaker Series

Headshot of Beatrice Ruiz

Need to become culturally competent… – Beatrice Ruiz

Global Human Resources AVP., State Street (EMEA)

What do businesses need to do to become culturally competent?

There are many paths businesses can follow to become culturally competent. Depending on their history, location, or diverse talent pool, their optimal approach would be X or Y. 

In general, I recommend two key action items: 

  • Cross-cultural training. Learning about other cultures is fun. It can be interactive and immediately boosts inclusion levels. 
  • Exposure. Training is as effective as its practice. Exposure goes from traveling when possible to making sure teams are diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, genre, age, socio-economic background, opinions, and more. 

How do you see D&I within the UK evolving through this decade?

Sometimes, we might feel that we are not making progress or that we are, but we are moving so slowly in terms of D&I. Sometimes, it feels like we are still working on the basics. Basic human rights. 

However, when we look back, we see how far we have come. And how far we still have to go. We are in the middle of the journey. 

In the past 20, 30 years, more and more women are leading companies, countries, boards. Today, 33% of FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 board members are women. What about other minority groups, other protective classes? 

We are working on it and will continue to work until we get there. Today, we have more resources, like technology, that help us move faster in our goal to turn this world into the safe, happy place is meant to be for absolutely everyone. 

What is the one big piece of advice to get rid of workplace bias in employee retention?

Self-awareness is the answer to eliminate bias. We are all human and, as such, have unconscious biases. These come from where, how, when, with whom we grew up. Every influence that impacted us since we were born contributed to how we approach life today, including our biases. Working on increasing our awareness will help us minimize our biases. Once we open our eyes to ourselves, we will be in good shape to support others in their self-discovery journey. 

It is not about pointing what other people do wrongly. Oftentimes, they are not aware of it. It is about being candid and progressing together towards eliminating biases from the workplace for everyone’s benefit.  

Could you share a few points on how you have championed a recent DEI program?

I have been involved in supporting or leading DEI programs for many years now. One of our most recent programs is a disability mentoring program, where we pair mentors and mentees, with visible or invisible disabilities, and support them in their career development, making sure they can access the tools and the opportunities that will take them as far as they would like to go. So far, so good.