In my last column I talked about how businesses need to consider diversity policies. At a time when many businesses are reviewing operations in light of the disruption we have experienced recently, we have a rare opportunity to look deeply at our organisations and decide whether we are truly doing what we can to be inclusive.

With so many competing priorities for business leaders, how do we make sure that inclusion gets the attention it deserves? Much of the current focus is on how to restart operations, and it can be easy to let concerns of diversity and inclusion slip down the list. We simply cannot let that happen.

We cannot just pay lip service to the issue, and we should not be considering diversity solely around ethnicity either; can we claim to be diverse and inclusive if we do not also consider the representation of religion, disabilities (both visible and non), gender, LGBTQ+ and age?

Companies have to be doing more than just ticking a box that says “we don’t discriminate”. Lynne Connolly, global head of diversity and inclusion at Aberdeen Standard Life and member of the IoD Scotland equality, diversity and inclusion group said in a recent article for our member magazine: “Progress in inclusion doesn’t happen overnight – it’s an evolving journey relying on sustained effort and everyone playing their part. It’s a shared journey across every organisation in Scotland – regardless of their size. As part of this, it is important for people to learn from and collaborate with each other. This ... will make the real difference. Change needs to be systemic for it to consistently feel that we are accessible, fair and inclusive.

“For me, inclusion is about the everyday. It’s about the experience our people have inside our companies and whether they want to continue working with us. It’s about being the companies that we want to be. And it’s much more than just another item on the agenda to report progress against. It’s what engages, inspires and drives people every day.”

IoD Scotland must also hold a mirror up to ourselves and examine our own organisational structures.

This includes looking at our events, awards and training to find out how we can better engage with a more inclusive audience, welcoming leaders from those sectors of society that may have felt excluded, however unintended that was.

We know that only around four per cent of the Scottish population is made up of minority ethnic groups, but are we seeing a true representation of this 4% in the boardrooms of our businesses? We must work to probe this data and encourage leaders to invest in addressing inequalities by better reflecting our country’s demography.

There is not enough diversity – of any kind – at the top of organisations, and the IoD is in a prime position to effect real change.

We have a track record in successfully impacting gender balance on boards, but as the central “meeting place” for leaders, we can and should look for ways to ensure the BAME community, for example, is better represented in our membership, and among our award nominees.

So far, we have established a Scottish diversity and inclusion working group to focus solely on the issue of under-representation on boards. Because we know that the broader the representation on our boards, the better our businesses will be.

We are not perfect, and nor do we claim to be.

But now is the time for all of us in the director community to look at our business practices and ask if we are working as hard as we could be to effect real change.

Malcolm Cannon is national director of the Institute of Directors in Scotland