We all perform better when we feel respected and valued for who we are and what we contribute. In other words, we all want to work in an inclusive environment. In these challenging ‘remote times’ it is even more important to practice caring, collaborative and inclusive leadership.
Why is Inclusion so Important?
With globalisation, clients, customers, suppliers and employees are all becoming increasingly diverse. We know that diversity has the potential to produce great results but we also know that diversity can only thrive in an inclusive environment. Numerous studies (from Deloitte, PWC, McKinsey and the World Economic Forum to name a few) report the positive impact of embracing diversity and providing an inclusive environment for all employees. These benefits include higher employee engagement, more creativity and innovation, holistic decision making and problem solving, better products and services, more market penetration, access to a wider talent pool and ultimately overall improved performance.
How to Create Inclusive Organisations? The Roadmap to Inclusive Organisations
We have developed a roadmap consisting of six practical stages to help organisations create an inclusive culture. We believe following a clear roadmap similar to the one suggested here will help keep things on track and guide organisations. The first five roadmap stages are general steps, while the sixth stage is specific to the needs of each area of diversity.
- Assessing current status, building commitment and developing strategy
Inclusion starts with (and is highly dependent on) the commitment of the senior executive team. Making senior leaders aware of the benefits of inclusion is important for gaining this commitment.
- Basics for individuals: Practical “Subconscious Bias”, and “Developing an inclusive leadership style” programs
Once leaders are onboard, subconscious biases need to be addressed both at an individual and organisational level. Ideally all employees go through very practical and action oriented subconscious bias programs followed by programs supporting leaders developing a more inclusive leadership style. These programs need then to be re-enforced through regular follow-up to ensure sustainable behavioural change.
- Basics for organisations: De-biasing organisational policies & practices, considering both internal and external stakeholders
Inclusive organisations continually re-evaluate their policies and practices to ensure they are bias free and provide opportunities for all employees to thrive. In addition to focusing on their employees, truly inclusive organisations also drive inclusion through their products and services as well as their interactions with external stakeholders.
- Involving diverse groups and levels of employees and external stakeholders
Throughout the process, it is essential to involve and consult diverse groups of stakeholders while setting up new, or modifying existing, policies and procedures.
- Flexible work arrangements for all
Introducing and encouraging flexible work arrangements benefits all employees, regardless of their gender, age and/or nationality, as it provides the opportunity for wider participation of the diverse population in the workforce. This could be especially powerful for female executives who may have left the workforce to start and raise a family.
- Specific interventions for diverse groups of employees and external stakeholders: Gender, culture, generations, etc.
(See examples of specific suggestions below)
THE ROADMAP TO INCLUSIVE ORGANISATIONS
Here are some examples of specific actions organisations can take in the areas of gender and cultural diversity.
- Focus on competent and gender-diverse hires and promotions. Set KPIs, targets for recruitment, promotion and succession planning. Use percentage growth goals rather than absolute number goals. This will help measure progress as well as keep leaders accountable.
- Use panels for hiring and promotion decisions to minimise the impact of subconscious biases.
- Provide extra career support for women by mentoring, sponsorship and gender-specific targeted leadership programs.
- Provide basic cultural awareness courses for all.
- Make country- and/or region-specific cultural training mandatory for all employees assigned to a foreign country.
- Provide cultural mentoring and coaching opportunities for high potential talent so that they can match headquarters’ and higher level management’s expectations regarding leadership behaviour.