I’ve spoken with and interviewed hundreds of executives, diversity and inclusion practitioners, executive sponsors and internal diversity champions to understand what really works in enabling workplace inclusion and workforce diversity.
What rapidly became apparent during these discussions is that companies that address these issues from a structured perspective that is based upon company strategy can communicate the what, the why and the how of change far more effectively than those who don’t.
As a result they deliver change more effectively by strategically aligning their D&I initiatives to organisational goals.
This strategic framework consolidates “the best of the best” from those discussions and related research.
Any executive wanting to enable equality, inclusion and diversity should use such a model to enable the corporate strategy.
Those involved in bringing these issues to life and making progress should use such an approach to define and review plans, actions and progress.
Headlines and Contents
- Diversity without inclusion, or inclusion without diversity, doesn’t yield the expected benefits
- Focusing on just one diversity characteristic doesn’t work either
- Strategic diversity and inclusion isn’t just an issue for Human Resources
- Leadership and engagement from the top is needed
- Use a strategic diversity and inclusion framework
Diversity without inclusion, or inclusion without diversity, doesn’t yield the expected benefits
There is much communication and activity in organisations about diversity and inclusion. Most corporates have had equal opportunity and non-discrimination policies in place for many years. However, the lived experience of people who are “different” in some way is often that they are not as included, or as able to succeed, as others.
Whether one takes a workforce diversity perspective, or a workplace inclusion one, it is apparent that diversity without inclusion, or inclusion without diversity, doesn’t yield the expected benefits.
Focusing on just one diversity characteristic doesn’t work either
Equally focusing on one aspect of diversity (e.g. gender) to the exclusion of others can cause more divisions and doesn’t acknowledge that we are all different in a multitude of ways. For example the mother with a physical disability, the millennial worker with dyslexia, a female person of colour.
The reality is that what’s needed in most organisations is a “culture upgrade”. Retain the values and behaviours that have enabled success so far, with some potentially difficult conversations to identify and call out where change is needed. That change will take concerted effort across the whole of the enterprise, and it will take time.
Strategic diversity and inclusion isn’t just an issue for Human Resources
Given that an organisation is wholly dependent upon its people to deliver its stated objectives, this is clearly a strategic issue – a strategic diversity and inclusion approach is needed. Yet all too often workplace inclusion and workforce diversity is seen as a group of projects in HR needed to address specific issues, with the expectation that good news stories will be created to be marketed externally.
Leadership and engagement from the top is needed
To enable real change, and the associated benefits, leaders from the very top of the company need to engage and lead. They can sponsor and activate a structured strategic approach so that all levels and departments within the organisation are engaged in the change programme. Here’s a summary of a strategic inclusion and diversity framework that connects local D&I programming with the organisation’s strategic goals – be that globally, or across divisions.
Using the strategic diversity and inclusion framework
The strategic diversity and inclusion framework has been developed based upon the collected insights from market research and best practice approaches. At its core is the principle that workplace inclusion and workforce diversity is a business issue that is managed by business executives; implementation is by regional leadership, with HR and line management.I’ll be discussing this framework and more, for example how to consider inclusion and diversity from employee and customer perspectives, at the Different Approaches to Creating a Truly Inclusive Workplace module.
CIPD Annual Conference
During the Chartered Institute of Personnel’s (CIPD) Annual Conference in November 2019 I hosted and led a World Cafe event in the Employee Experience, Well-being and People Management stream – Different approaches to creating a truly inclusive workplace.
I discussed and presented this framework and you can see the related article on CIPD’s website here.
Strategic change takes focus, energy and resources. Making such changes in a corporate context requires an approach that embeds the change in the corporate strategy.
No high-level framework to diagnose and connect a business strategy to the programme of work for workplace inclusion and workforce diversity existed to use.
Behind every element of this framework there’s a more detailed breakdown of the analysis and work that you can implement to deliver strategic diversity and inclusion.
Connect with me to find out more about how to enable strategic diversity and inclusion with this framework, and indeed others such as the employee life cycle model, can be used in your organisation to deliver tangible and sustainable change.
Steven has extensive experience in strategic executive leadership having led large business units at Fujitsu. Steven has had full and operational delivery responsibility for $1bn annual revenue business, including sales / growth, of full-service range (consultancy and change programmes, to operational IT services) to multiple clients. Leading business through changes in strategic direction, crisis management, transformational turnarounds especially those delivering business critical services to clients such as Public Sector / National Government. Steven engages well with C-suite executives and senior stakeholders, including in previous roles with UK Government Cabinet Ministers.