A special category at this month’s Herald & GenAnalytics Diversity Awards will honour the efforts of a late abrdn employee who truly made a difference.
The winners of this year’s The Herald & GenAnalytics Diversity Awards will be announced on Thursday, 12 October and amongst those being recognised for their efforts in creating an equitable workplace will be one individual or organisation who is making diversity and inclusion central to everything that they do.
The Lynne Connolly Achievement in Diversity Award has been created in recognition of the former abrdn Global Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, who died of cancer in January of this year, aged just 49.
According to colleague, Heather Inglis, who has taken over the same role within abrdn, Lynne’s commitment to equality was the bedrock on which the company’s DEI approach was built.
“The foundations that she created and the inspiration she provided for colleagues and across the business community are immeasurable and permanent. She was a force for good in our business for more than 16 years.”
Lynne drove the importance of embedding DEI through all parts of abrdn’s business, such as advocating for the introduction in 2019 of inclusive policies to support colleagues through life events. These included 40 weeks fully paid equal parental leave in the UK business, an industry-leading move at the time, and one that has been transformational for colleagues. Lynne championed the need to implement these policies to drive better gender balance, support all types of families, and help to influence societal change.
As a global company, managing £496bn of assets for clients, abrdn’s 5000 colleagues operate in 30 locations around the world and the rate of DEI progress in gaining full equality can move at a different speed depending on where staff are based. Lynne was always sensitive to local conditions and never wavered in her belief that a fairer society was possible for everyone, building strong alliances in order to reach her goals.
Heather says: She was a firm believer that achieving significant inclusion outcomes, which stem from societal and industry norms, cannot be achieved by one company alone, therefore she participated in partnerships and established new ways to bring people together to collaborate on DEI globally across the UK and in Scotland.
“She had various diversity board affiliations, including the 2% Club Scotland and GenAnalytics, and she set up and chaired the Scottish chapter of the Diversity Project after being an active contributor to the Project since its inception. Through these forums she brought peers together to share practice, drive collective actions, and provide thought leadership and her impact was recognised when she was named the Director of the Year for Inclusivity by the Institute of Directors (IoD) Scotland. “
Part of Lynne’s legacy is that abrdn has achieved many of its own challenging DEI goals ahead of deadline, including the appointment of four women to its nine-strong Board.
Such achievements matter, says Heather, because diversity within the organisation doesn’t just allow talent to thrive, but it also creates a culture that helps abrdn perform better for clients.
“Diverse teams make better investment decisions and are more likely to spot opportunities, while an inclusive culture delivers innovation, engagement and belonging.”
Heather says the term ‘legacy’ is not one that Lynne herself would have been very comfortable with. “She never liked being the centre of attention or to take personal credit for the progress she drove in DEI, because she always said that it was a collective effort. However, she was always keen to encourage and recognise those putting in the effort, which is why this award is a great way to celebrate what was important to her. It is also a fitting way to recognise what she leaves behind at abrdn, the DEI work she moved forward in our industry and the impact she had across the business community in Scotland.”
The Lynne Connolly Achievement in Diversity Award will recognise exceptional effort in the field of diversity, equity and inclusion and it will be handed out in front of an industry audience at a glittering ceremony at DoubleTree by Hilton Glasgow Central.
The awards evening, also sponsored by Arnold Clark, BAE Systems, Crown Estate Scotland, Diageo and sportscotland, will provide an opportunity to recognise outstanding work towards making the workplace fair and inclusive and it will give professionals working in the sector a chance to network and exchange ideas. A few tickets for the evening are still available. For full details visit https://newsquestscotlandevents.com/events/the-diversity-awards/