- Diversity and Inclusion programmes and strategies only work when they are strongly supported
fromthe top. All Exco and senior management must commit to inclusion culture, which must be integrated with the company vision. In all leadership and strategy conversationsthere should be opportunities to challenge decisions or characteristics of the strategies from an Inclusion perspective. The example of empathetic and sensitive leadership must be set by the CEO/COO.
- Care must be taken to ensure company values and character are at all times consistent with the Inclusion message. Management communication may need to be interrogated regularly – for instance, if presenting a drive for “high-performance culture”, to highlight how this might present challenges for people with family responsibilities or how “high performance” might be defined differently by people from different backgrounds.
- Management commitment compels senior leaders to participate in regular sessions, discussions or workshops that encourage them to look deeply at themselves and their unconscious biases or internal prejudices, in every respect. All managers must be measured on their participation in this regard. If any leader is seen to be disengaged with the process this sends the message to staff that Inclusion strategy is not to be taken seriously.
- Inclusion should be a culture adopted by the business and measured in every staff member’s KPAs.
- It must be recognised that diversity awareness and sensitivity is not created through any single event.
Changemanagement strategy should be adopted, with the understanding that change happens through ongoing and continual exposure to values that must be supported. Visibility and reminders should exist in every facet of the business.
- Organisational systems and processes must be regularly examined with regard to potential bias or exclusionary practices.
- Internal “watchdogs” or focus groups such as D&I or EE Committees are essential supports to the Inclusion strategy. These ensure ongoing momentum and action when the initial wave has died down and the business has started to focus on new emerging priorities.
- Attendance by all staff of D&I workshops is
an and should be done annually and not as a once-off event. Managers must be prepared to be inconvenienced when their staff are off work to attend these imperative, sessions,and must be equipped to performance manage team members who don’t participate in these programmes.
- Inclusion and Diversity awareness should be included in briefs to facilitators when planning any leadership or soft skills training interventions.
- Facilitators leading Diversity workshops must be skilled and experienced in methodologies for creating an inclusive culture. These methodologies should include the following:
- Group sessions must consist of large numbers of participants who are as diverse as possible
- Training must consist mostly of group discussions rather than instruction, to ensure personal experiences are shared and exclusionary behaviour is raised and challenged
- Diversity of every kind must be examined – not only culture, religion or gender
- Improving organisational and individual empathy should be the primary objective of all diversity programmes, and if examination of different belief systems or practices in generalised groups is necessary to enhance understanding and respect, it must be made clear that the purpose of this is to enhance empathy and questioning rather than to categorise people or make assumptions.
- The facilitator must be skilled at managing group dynamics and highly flexible in managing conversations to ensure all participants are honest, respectful and feel respected
- Group activities must encourage personal introspection and critical personal interrogation of personal beliefs, and for this reason the facilitator must ensure all individuals feel “comfortable in the space” at all times to reduce defensiveness
- Conversations must be held around team and organisational practices that lead to exclusion, and employees must interrogate organisational culture and values at every level
- Outcomes of D&I workshops must focus on practical actions or changes that will elicit greater respect and sensitivity, and care must be taken that participants don’t leave with re-enforced stereotypes, judgments or validations of behaviour that is not inclusive
- Specific concerns or issues that are raised at workshops must be actioned and feedback given to staff as to how these concerns have been addressed