Steven AJ Cox

Strategic workforce diversity and workplace inclusion

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.

Conclusion

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.


About Steven

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.

Contact

Feel free to reach out if you’d like to discuss these or related topics. Follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Here are some more blog posts which may be of interest:

Research

Have a look at the research questionnaires / surveys that are currently underway on the Research page.

Follow on social media


Leading after coronavirus lockdowns

Leading after lockdown

Coronavirus has changed how we look at the workplace, probably impacting how we manage our teams for the foreseeable future. Politicians describe the world ahead as “the new normal”. Business leaders of once close-knit teams should find new ways to manage their employees. Many of those employees are working from home in larger numbers than ever before, or even thought about.

Leading after coronavirus lockdowns is a new challenge. Whilst many of us have some experience in dealing with a remote workforce doing so through a crisis of such magnitude is a massive challenge. There are no simple solutions as each situation is unique. Some issues are common across the board however – enabling with technology, focusing on communications, looking after people, and ensuring the strategic value and opportunities of workforce diversity and workplace inclusion are maximised.

Are all the necessary tools in place?

Had the coronavirus crisis happened even only a few years ago, the impact on business would have been much worse than it is today. We now have fast broadband, affordable and efficient video conferencing and work-sharing platforms, virtual private networks, and more. Even before the crisis, many people already worked for at least part of their week at home.  

The first stage is to ensure that everyone has the necessary hardware and software, along with the required training in their use. Executives and managers should pressure test systems, and deploy exceptional security measures to protect both businesses, individuals and importantly customers. (There’s been a massive rise in phishing and other cybercrimes.) Have you discussed with every member of your team if they have the resources they need?

Communication, communication, communication

Communicating effectively in the face of crises is the most vital aspect of strong leadership. Leading after coronavirus lockdowns requires even more exceptional skills than before. Planning is crucial. Leaders must maintain communication with each stakeholder, including employees, customers, suppliers, investors, financial markets and more.  Flexibility is vital. Everything is in flux. As more information and knowledge becomes available, the decisions we make today may not be valid tomorrow.  

Employees must be kept on board. They need to know how you are protecting their health, that their jobs are as secure as can reasonably be expected, that you will not abandon them when the going gets even tougher. Equally, they need to know what is expected of them and to feel their special efforts are making a difference. Use a service such as equativo, the platform to engage, empower and enable employees to allow your teams to confidentially raise opportunities, concerns, and seek support and guidance.

Your suppliers, markets and other stakeholders in your supply chain need to know your needs and abilities to maintain markets. Your banks and financiers need to know about your financial outlook. The list goes on. Honesty and transparency within the bounds of company confidentiality is a practical approach.  Have you done the outreach needed and connected with each stakeholder?

Wellbeing and mental health

Frequent and in-depth communication is a crucial part of maintaining the wellbeing and mental health of remote workers. Leading after coronavirus lockdowns must ensure that individuals feel connected. While many people can embrace remote working effectively, others may have a much harder time.

Leaders must minimise the impact of stress and fear on their employees. Often just talking about the problems can help. For example individuals may welcome daily check-ins by people managers, or see them as intrusive. It is always going to be a delicate balance, but it is essential to find it.  Make sure you have those regular check-in points with each team member, according to what you both agree to and works for the business.  Also consider how mental health in the workplace can be perceived.

Inclusivity and diversity

Crisis management does not mean we can abandon any hard-earned gains in workplace inclusion and workforce diversity. Everyone will be experiencing some of the same challenges as well as unique ones – and under-represented groups may be disproportionately impacted. In leading after coronavirus lockdowns we should take extraordinary measures to provide the additional support they may need.

An increased awareness and cultural acceptance of remote working can create new opportunities. For example, allowing greater flexibility on work hours that can help parents and carers. That the technology deployed for remote working could provide the opportunity to engage more people with disabilities.  Think through all stages of an individual’s employment at the company using a tool such as this useful employee life cycle perspective.

It is also important to realise that many home workers will lack an ideal workspace where they can work effectively free from interruptions from other household members. School closures will likely exacerbate this problem. Having said which, with so many more people having experienced this now, we can expect that there will be greater human acceptance of such dyanmics going forward for those working at home.

Diverse workforces and inclusive workplaces are the best approach to the multiple problems we currently face. Two examples of how different groups are affected differently by the crisis are How Racism And Inequality Have Left Minorities Most At Risk From Covid-19 and the Unique Impact Of Coronavirus On LGBT+ Community ‘Will Disproportionally Affect Us’ . For instance, some groups may be more fearful than others about the possibility of losing their jobs.  Management must encourage open communications and a culture that allows people o speak up and ask questions as in the current climate it is more likely that they will feel hesitant to stand out.

Finally

When leading after coronavirus lockdowns we should, and need to, continue to make progress during the societal and business challenges that remain ahead of us. 

In this article I’ve just scratched the surface of leadership through the coronavirus crisis. Undoubtedly strong leaders are emerging and making a massive impact in many aspects of business.

Yet everyone is struggling to find the best solution in an environment that is constantly changing. The most significant resource available to leaders are the very people they lead; inclusivity and diversity are fundamental to developing the best solutions.

As we exit the crisis and people return to the workplace in phases, as leaders you should take even greater care to ensure previous gains in workplace inclusion and workforce diversity are secured and developed further. It is those with the least power who are most likely to slip through the net as unemployment inevitably rises.

Strong leaders can prevent this from happening.  


About Steven

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.

Contact

Feel free to reach out if you’d like to discuss these or related topics. Follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Here are some more blog posts which may be of interest:

Research

Have a look at the research questionnaires / surveys that are currently underway on the Research page.

Follow on social media


The Importance of Celebrating Progress

Progress of any kind can be slow, it can be fast, and is often inconsistent and has setbacks. That’s why history months of any particular dimension of humanity are so very important. We’ve seen a lot of progress over the course of recent history. Civil rights in the United States, the abolishment of Apartheid in South Africa, the number of countries that have started to recognize same-sex marriage are all examples of progress we’ve seen in a couple of generations. Progress, while monumental when it moves quickly, is often inconsistent and has setbacks and needs constant reminders of why we need to ensure progress is continuous.

History months are an opportunity to reflect on the progress that’s been made and be grateful for the people who have created that progress. Companies can play a role when marking important history months – engaging their employees in the process.

History months allow for company-wide communications and engagement over a sustained period of time. They allow momentum to be created and increased and they allow time for messages to resonate around the company – addressing both direction and consistency.

During LGBT+ history month companies have the opportunity to run internal communications campaigns, to create an energetic push to review and update policies and procedures, and to engage in discussions on the topic with customers and suppliers.

The situation at Starbucks is a good example. They should be thanked and celebrated for their contribution to direction with their powerful “Every Name’s a Story” campaign to support trans identities. What they haven’t done well is that they lack consistency: Trans Starbucks Employees Say The Company Is Letting Them Down.

Encouraging all staff to engage in the process – be that individuals who are uncertain about coming out, team members or team leaders who are uncertain how to handle situations, as well as allies who want to help but don’t know how to – is essential.

It is inevitable that those who feel different will have some sense of caution about whether they are safe to discuss their difference in the workplace. Some workplaces are evidently encouraging, open and supportive – so that time of reflection will be short. Many workplaces are not– only a couple of years ago it was reported that 41% of LGBT+ youth go back in the closet when they go from university to their first jobs. (As an aside I can relate to this personally. I worked for a Japanese technology company for many years, and I was 17 years into my career before I dared come out at work as being gay.

Progress also has another challenge. People will often point to new generations in the workplace naturally bringing in change. That’s only partly true, however. New employees will view existing non-progressive systems in place and wonder “how can I be successful here”. If the organization doesn’t actively seek change it brings about a cycle in which employees suppress their willingness to propose change when they don’t see a culture of change naturally occurring.

It’s also lazy to take that view. Executives who think these issues will address themselves through time “organically” are letting their company’s investors, shareholders and external stakeholders down, and they are also letting down their own people. Action is required. (Have a look at my blog post on making workplace inclusion and workplace diversity strategic.)

Equativo, is a soon to be launched service that provides an inclusive platform for trusted and open communication for employees to be enabled, empowered, valued and engaged at work. It allows employers to demonstrate through action their willingness to change and open up the conversation to progress.

Create the new future for your people and your company – join equativo.

Find out more at www.equativo.com, or follow on social media: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.


About Steven

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.

Contact

Feel free to reach out if you’d like to discuss these or related topics. Follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Here are some more blog posts which may be of interest:

Research

Have a look at the research questionnaires / surveys that are currently underway on the Research page.

Follow on social media


Diversity and Inclusion – the employee life cycle

Addressing the topics of corporate workforce diversity and workplace inclusion requires the involvement of everyone in a company. It’s about intent aligned with action and requires thinking about many factors – use the employee life cycle to enable workplace diversity and workplace inclusion

Starting with leadership and communication and the policies and procedures of a business, as well as its culture. Considering the strategic decision-making process (including every-day decisions). Also the national cultures that one is operating in, and the expectations of national and regional governments, as well as international bodies.

However, the scale and complexity of the challenge, and the very nature of many organizations can lead some to believe it is “somebody else’s” responsibility. It’s for leadership to resolve, or Human Resources departments, or the Diversity and Inclusion lead, or …

The reality is however that no matter where we are in a company we each have the opportunity to have a positive impact on workforce diversity and workplace inclusion.

Consider from different perspectives

What is the customer engagement journey like? Or from a supply chain perspective: How do you exert influence on your suppliers, or your customers, or even your competition?

In this article, I encourage you to think about this from an employee lifecycle perspective. Use the employee life cycle perspective to enable workplace diversity and workplace inclusion. Considering every single interaction a potential member of staff has before they join and all the way through to when they leave. Each of those interactions is owned by different people or parts of the company, so viewing it from the employee’s perspective allows one to see who should be responsible for delivering change.

That could be the line manager, or the brand and marketing team, the social media team, recruitment advisors, participants in a recruitment panel, and so on.  It’s part of the overall theme to consider – as I spoke about at the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development)) annual conference – Workplace Inclusion and Workforce Diversity from a Corporate Strategy perspective.

Here’s the summary, behind each of the segments there are a set of prompts and suggestions to investigate; topics for future blog pieces.

Consider each of these eight elements to use the employee life cycle for diversity and inclusion:

1. Strategy. Having a strategic workforce plan designed to deliver the corporate strategy

Any people strategy should have its foundation in the corporates overall strategy. A company’s people are the ones who deliver the corporate strategy – knowing what types of people and with what skills you need for the future, and where they are needed, is the core of a people strategy.

2. Attract. Being an appealing inclusive employer

Attracting people to join the company is about corporate reputation, the information that potential candidates hear about you, and can find out about you.

3. Recruit. Enabling all talent to successfully apply

Your recruitment process should be free of bias, clearly signal your interest in diverse candidates, support applications from diverse candidates, and place expectations on your recruiting managers, and your recruitment agencies.

4. Onboard. Ensuring all talent is understood and all staff trained

Onboarding is an opportunity for new joiners to understand your expectations as well as to be aware of the support and opportunities available to them. So that they feel comfortable to be completely themselves at work.

5. Learning and Development. All talent represented and included 

Every learning and development / training intervention is a D&I opportunity. All development and training programmes should have diverse candidates, and specific learning and development opportunities should be provided for all talent where appropriate.

6. Reward, Recognition, & Benefits. All talent’s needs catered for

All staff is to be treated equitably. Staff benefits should be inclusive for all diversity aspects. Some specific additional company services may need to be provided for specific groups.

7. Progression & Performance. All talent performance management consistent

Work allocation and performance management of all staff should be consistent irrespective of diversity aspects.  Monitoring of succession planning, pay and performance should be undertaken.

8. Retain / Exit. Talent that wants to stay. Learn from & manage exits 

Talent of all types should want to stay with the company. You should act upon feedback and use workplace inclusion programmes. You should learn from diverse staff exits, and avoid exits due to lack of inclusion.

Conclusion

So, when faced with “where should I start”, or “what should I do next” – why not step into the shoes of your own people, and working with them see what insights you can identify for action.

For a few easy reminders of workplace diversity and workplace inclusion see the acrostic definitions of inclusion and diversity – inclusion starts with I and diversity – it’s all about YOU – both of which are reminders of the role we each have in making these successful.


About Steven

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.

Contact

Feel free to reach out if you’d like to discuss these or related topics. Follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Here are some more blog posts which may be of interest:

Research

Have a look at the research questionnaires / surveys that are currently underway on the Research page.

Follow on social media


We need to talk: Mental ill-health, and covering in the workplace – the business impacts

I published a piece on Fujitsu’s global blog site on the business impacts of mental ill-health and covering in the workplace, and thought I’d share it here as well.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend Changeboard’s Future Talent Conference 2018 with the headline “’Skills’ to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution” courtesy of the team at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) at the end of March. It was most definitely one of the best such conferences I’ve been to in this area with an engaging agenda, and knowledgeable speakers.

One of the points that was made that really resonated was the stigma that is attached to discussions on mental health – and how that stigma is carried so simply in the language that’s used.

Alastair Campbell, who has personal insights into this topic and is an advocate for positive change in this area, made that point really clearly. For example, in a discussion about “physical health” the images that are typically conjured up are invariably positive – Olympics athletes say, or those achieving significant physical accomplishments such as mountaineering.  When discussing “mental health” however, typically the sentiment is around mental health conditions and those who are evidently suffering, it’s the negative that’s thought about, not the positive.

Alastair was advocating that we should use the term “mental ill-health” if that’s what we actually mean; I’ve been seeking to take that approach ever since.

It’s a reminder of the way that every-day language can cause stigma and stereotypes to be perpetuated, and how harmful that can be. Creating workplace and social environments where we can discuss mental health, as well as mental ill-health, openly and pragmatically has to be a good thing.

A definition may help. Mindful Employer use the following: “The definition of mental ill-health covers a very wide spectrum, from the worries and grief we all experience as part of everyday life to the most bleak, suicidal depression or complete loss of touch with everyday reality. The cause may not necessarily be work-related.” and “Everybody responds differently to the stresses and strains of modern life and it is common to describe ourselves as ‘depressed’, ‘stressed’ or ‘anxious’ at times. For some, these feelings can become serious enough to make it difficult to carry on with normal daily activities”.

Of course a big part of mental ill-health is that there remains the option for many to not discuss it, to not raise concerns, to not ask for help and understanding. The emergence of mental-health first aiders in the workplace is a great intervention.

That ability to hide the truth is one that corporates really should worry about as the impacts are significant, and not just from the obvious employee wellbeing perspective.

Mental ill-health is a significant cost for corporates and national economies. One estimate places this cost at £35bn per year for employers in the UK alone, and in USA an estimated $193bn in lost earnings, and approximately 1 in 5 adults experiencing mental illness in a given year.

Mercer and Business in the Community (BITC) recently reported that a third of employees (31%) in the UK were formally diagnosed with a common mental health disorder, such as stress, anxiety or depression. With the Britain’s Healthiest Workplace survey showing depressed employees lose an average of 33 productive days per year to moderate to severe depression by the 5.6% of employees who suffer from it. This is about people’s lives, and real corporate money too.

That ability to hide of course extends to many other areas. LGBT+ people who do not feel safe coming out in the workplace, those who hold religious beliefs who are not sure how their colleagues will respond, or someone with a non-visible disability. I’ve even heard of an expectant mother who didn’t tell her employer that she was pregnant until as late as possible for fear of how she would be negatively treated, and another mother who avoids talking about her children at work in case people decide on her behalf what types of projects and jobs she could work on.

Deloitte released their “Uncovering talent – a new model of inclusion” paper in 2013 which showed the alarming number of people who cover parts of their identity when at work. And that covering takes energy, it causes people to be less connected with their colleagues, and it inevitably impacts on performance and the sense of belonging.

It is undoubtedly in an employer’s interest to ensure that the corporate culture is one that allows these conversations to be had in a context of psychological safety. And, of course, this touches on different aspects of people’s lives, in many cultures for example, emotional wellbeing is closely associated with religious or spiritual life.

Importantly this isn’t just about having non-discrimination policies in place, though they are undoubtedly an important foundation. It’s about the way that people within the company talk about these topics, and the way that they respond as individuals and when representing the company when they are being discussed.

So, here are a few questions for you: Does your company hide behind “we have policies for these topics so this isn’t a problem”, or does it seriously consider how the right values and behaviors are exemplified and recognized by leaders? Does it work on how inappropriate language should be challenged, and how stereotypes and stigma are eradicated so that the corporate culture is one that is authentically inclusive? What images come to mind in your company when people talk about mental health, or religion, or being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender? Are they positive?


About Steven

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.

Contact

Feel free to reach out if you’d like to discuss these or related topics. Follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Here are some more blog posts which may be of interest:

Research

Have a look at the research questionnaires / surveys that are currently underway on the Research page.

Follow on social media


On the gender pay gap.

I published a piece on Fujitsu’s global blog site on the gender pay gap, and thought I’d share it here as well. 

The underrepresentation of women at all levels within corporations is a global issue and the UK Government’s approach is focusing minds, as well as setting some examples for the ways in which companies around the world should consider this issue.

With the deadline last week for companies in the UK with more than 250 employees to publish the mandated gender pay gap information, there’s been a lot of discussion about the implications for corporates, and on what should be done by the 78% of companies in the UK that on average pay men more than women.

First off, let’s be clear of the definition used by the UK Government, as understandings vary between regions. As described in Fujitsu’s announcement here,

“The gender pay gap gives a snapshot of the gender balance within an organisation. It measures the difference between the average earnings of all male and female employees, irrespective of their role or seniority.”

As described in Sarah Kaiser’s blog post, this is different to equal pay; which means that men and women must be paid the same for carrying out work of equal value for the same employer.

Fujitsu was in the first 1% of companies in the UK to publish its results; at the same time, it defined a set of metric-based targets, and an accompanying action plan. Indeed Fujitsu has sought to enable others in the tech industry along this journey by organizing a briefing to techUK’s Council for Women in Tech, instigating a lessons-learned briefing at the ICT HR Directors’ Forum (attended by many well-known tech industry giants), and has been commended by the Government Equalities Office for its work.

The Government’s action in this area has created a national dialogue

Rightly so. And it’s a dialogue that global corporations should be preparing for, and more importantly pre-empting with meaningful action, elsewhere around the world.

There are many reasons for the situation as it is within the tech sector – broadly, they relate both to the context that companies dependent upon tech skills operate in, and what the company does itself.

The external context is the under-representation of girls with STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) qualifications in many places around the world. Interestingly, studies show that achievement levels between girls and boys are basically the same, it’s the participation rate that is not balanced – and needs to be addressed urgently. There’s a lot here about the perception of technology and science being a boy’s subject, which they evidently aren’t.

For many companies, the internal context is that fewer women than men are recruited, and the representation of women drops the higher up the organization one goes. Proportionally fewer women come up through the ranks than men; based on the numbers, it’s very difficult to believe that this is defendable. At best, it could be argued that systemic bias in the design of workplaces and job roles is creating a barrier to the progression of women.

There’s no easy fix to such systemic issues, so here are some thoughts on how to break it down, with a few examples of the changes that Fujitsu has been working on to bring about change.

Bringing about the necessary change can be grouped into three areas – a corporate programmatic approach, a dynamic approach of interventions and nudges, and employee engagement.

First off, like any business change, you’ll need to define the vision and objectives, a set of interim measures, and then a programme of changes. An obvious candidate here is to ensure that the attraction and recruitment process is bias free, for example Fujitsu has deployed focused unconscious bias training for its recruiting managers and shared its diversity expectations with recruiters. There should be an end-to-end review of the employee lifecycle – for example, are candidates for learning and development interventions gender-balanced, and if not what should be done to address that?

Also consider what works well in other countries that could be deployed elsewhere. For example Fujitsu in Sweden has an approach of no meetings before 09:00 or after 16:00. This allows parents to drop off or collect children, as well as for those with other responsibilities.

Improvements in the gender balance can also be realized indirectly of course. I was struck by research by Avenir, which found that when men were able to work flexibly and played an equal or main caregiver role in childcare, 47% of female partners had progressed their career since having had children. When men played very little or a moderate role in childcare activities, only 26% of female partners had progressed their career. That’s a 21% difference in female career progression. This is also an interesting perspective for men who may consider that achieving a gender balanced workforce brings them no benefits.

Secondly, be prepared to intervene with agile nudges. For a recent internal recruitment campaign into EMEIA-wide positions, it was noted that there were fewer women applying than had been expected. So one of the company’s most senior women wrote personal notes to over 80 women at the target level being recruited from to raise awareness and encourage participation – the number of applications from women quadrupled.

As part of reviewing women’s participation in the company’s programmes it was noted that women were underrepresented in the population of Fujitsu Distinguished Engineers. Recognizing this, it was determined that one of the reasons was that those who were nominating were insufficiently aware of the successful and talented women in the community. Creating that awareness led to change.

Finally, ensure that the voice of women in the business is heard, and that all those in the company can hear what changes need to be made – it will vary from company to company. Fujitsu has a very engaged Women’s Business Network which meets regularly, along with many male allies, to celebrate success, share in mentoring and coaching opportunities, and to advise executive sponsors and HR where the company needs to change. They raise challenges and spotlight opportunities for improvement – that can then be rolled into the business change programme, or addressed in an agile way through a nudge intervention.

There’s no simple answer, however improvements are required

The United Nations estimates that if women fully participated in formal labor markets, global GDP would increase by US $28 trillion by 2025. The European Institute for Gender Equality has concluded that improvements in gender equality would lead to up to an additional 10.5m jobs by 2050. This would benefit both men & women, since (only) about 70% of these jobs would be taken by women.

Attention on this area will rightfully increase. Corporates need to act.

The original piece is at this link.


About Steven

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.

Contact

Feel free to reach out if you’d like to discuss these or related topics. Follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Here are some more blog posts which may be of interest:

Research

Have a look at the research questionnaires / surveys that are currently underway on the Research page.

Follow on social media


Diversity: It’s all about YOU

What does DIVERSITY mean and what is it all about? It is after all quite a wide topic.

Following on from the acrostic I developed for inclusion here’s my take on how I think of DIVERSITY.

 
 



D



Difference

We are all different in different ways and Diversity is about recognizing and valuing what makes each of us unique human beings. That might be our gender, our ethnicity, our social background, our sexual orientation and gender identity, whether we have a disability, and many more attributes




I


Intersectional

We are not defined by any one or other particular difference – Intersectionality describes how we belong to different groups at any one time. For example a white single parent father, a black married woman, an Asian person with a disability, a lesbian (a gay woman), and so on.




V


Variety


We often define diversity groupings such as BAME* or LGBT+ and then consider members of them in the same way. Variety is about recognizing the differences within any group. E.g.: the experience of a lesbian is different to that of a gay man which is different to that of transgender man or an intersex person, even though they’re all in the LGBT+ definition.



E


Everything and Everyone


Everything matters and all diversity attributes deserve attention. Whilst we may prioritize a few aspects (e.g. women in the workplace) we have to work on every other type of difference too. A waterfall plan dealing with one topic and then the next and so on takes too long, and will exclude along the way. It also affects Everyone: we all benefit from diversity.



R


Role models


People with diverse backgrounds and identities value seeing diverse role models. Being a role model doesn’t mean you’re perfect – it means you can be a beacon of hope for the future of those like you. This is for people in the company, as well as those in the industry, or society, or even family.



S


Society / Societal


The societal aspect is about having a workforce that reflects the societies that we operate in as well as the ones we serve. It is also about recognizing the expectations of those societies and the role that corporates can have in enabling positive social change through their behaviors and actions.


I


Innovation

It has been shown that diverse teams enable creativity and innovation so it absolutely has to feature in this definition! There’s a gotcha however, as more diverse teams can be less equipped to enable implementation so one needs to create and foster an innovation culture that enables delivery too.


T


Timeless


A little like the never-ending ‘n’ in Inclusion, the timeless factor is that there will always be more to be done. Our understanding of difference changes with time, and with different generations joining the workforce, and the labor market continually flexing with migration, there will always be fresh diversity to welcome.



Y


You


The You in Diversity is the role that your difference can play at work. It’s about having the confidence to recognize the value that your unique ways of thinking and experiences have value in the workplace and bringing them forward.

 

About Steven

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.

Contact

Feel free to reach out if you’d like to discuss these or related topics. Follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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Inclusion: It starts with I

Inclusion.  We can all say the word but how often do you stop and consider exactly what we mean when we talk about inclusion?

I’ve been spending time thinking about what it means for me, in my work and in my daily life. 

I’ve developed this acrostic to help us all reflect on what we mean when we talk about inclusion. (Look out for my acrostic for DIVERSITY too!)

 

 

 

 
I
 
What can and should be doing?
 
Every day each of us has the opportunity to create an inclusive environment through our thinking, behaviors and attitudes. To adapt John F Kennedy’s famous quote. Think not what “they” or “the company” will do to create an inclusive workplace, think what can I do to create one.
 
 
N
 
 
No bystanders
 
Being inclusive means that we have to eradicate behaviors that are exclusionary. Let there be no bystanders, if you see something that isn’t inclusive – call it out. If we all do it, it gets easier to do!

 
C
 
 
 
Consistent 
 
Inclusion requires a consistency, a harmony if you will, of the values and the ways the company operates. The policies, procedures, measures and so on all need to be consistent with the objective of inclusivity. It also means achieving an inclusive environment for all, not just some groups.

 
L
 
 
Leadership
Leadership from the top is necessary for progressing inclusion and diversity. As elsewhere in business leadership happens at all levels, so don’t just leave it to the senior management teams, what’s your inclusive leadership opportunity today?
 
 
U
 
 
Uncompromising
 
An inclusive workplace doesn’t allow for a bit of discrimination, or for policies that are a bit exclusive, it’s uncompromising. And yes, that means it can be hard.

 
S
 
Systematic
 
Real inclusion is unlikely to happen by chance. It will require a systematic approach – objectives, plans, resources, measures – a comprehensive plan. Which makes it just like any other business or culture change program.
 
 
I
 
 
 
Informed
 
To be effective you need to be informed. Internally have data on one’s own business area and do something with it. Externally be informed of the expectations and requirements of customers, Governments, recruits, and the societies that you operate in as well as serve. Stay informed about what others in the market are doing that you can learn from.
 
 
O
 
 
 
Opinionated
 
Internally be clear and overt that the diversity of thinking and attributes that make us unique human beings is welcomed and valued. Silent acceptance is not good enough. Externally recognize the opportunity to influence suppliers, customers, even Governments. An organization can’t be passively inclusive, it’s an activity; think of it as a verb!
 
 
N
 
 
 
Never ending
 
Achieving an inclusive culture could be considered a programme that lasts a number of years. Realistically such change takes time; it’s about embedded attitudes, behaviors and norms. In most corporates, with quarterly results required and 5-year strategic planning horizons, it effectively means that this should be thought of as a never ending activity!

 

About Steven

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.

Contact

Feel free to reach out if you’d like to discuss these or related topics. Follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Here are some more blog posts which may be of interest:

Research

Have a look at the research questionnaires / surveys that are currently underway on the Research page.

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Demystifying the language: Race & Ethnicity

One of the biggest hurdles for all aspects of diversity and inclusion is the language that can be appropriately, respectfully and sensitively used.

I recently came across a great glossary of words to aid with understanding the language around race and ethnicity developed by Square Peg Media.

As with all aspects of diversity the most appropriate way to refer to a person is invariably the way that they would prefer to be referred to as. If in doubt one can always, respectfully, ask.

With a few minor tweaks here it is:

BAME abbreviation for Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic: used to refer to members of non-white communities in the UK This has become a key catch-all term for workplaces and used mainly in the UK. The US tends to use BME. As with all such wide-ranging groupings care should be taken to recognise that the lived experiences of those within this grouping may be markedly different.  

Multicultural including people who have many different customs and beliefs Often this is used in workplaces in conjunction with networks. The cultural term often refers to behaviours and customs of people from different societies.  

Race a group, especially of people, with particular similar physical characteristics, who are considered as belonging to the same type, or the fact of belonging to such a group Race has been viewed as a slightly dated term, but it is necessary and good to use in conjunction with physical attributes, such as a person’s colour.  

Ethnicity a large group of people who have the same national, racial, or cultural origins, or the state  of belonging to such a group

Nationality the official right to belong to a particular country, often through birth although some people have dual nationality

Visible Minority a person or group visibly not one of the majority race in a given population

Intersectionality Where a person may be part of more than one minority group, not just in the context of race and ethnicity For example, a black woman may face different challenges to a black man or a white woman  

Indigenous Background people or things belong to the country in which they are found, rather than coming there or being brought there from another country

Bi-Racial Background for, representing, or including members of two races, such as White and Black

Culture the symbolic and expressive aspects of human behaviour

Xenophobia an irrational fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers or of their politics or culture

NOTEMinority Ethnic is different across the world. For example, a white woman in Japan would be considered minority ethnic.  

Here’s a link to the original guide


About Steven

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.

Contact

Feel free to reach out if you’d like to discuss these or related topics. Follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Here are some more blog posts which may be of interest:

Research

Have a look at the research questionnaires / surveys that are currently underway on the Research page.

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Demystifying the language: LGBTQ Definitions

I recently read a great article in USA Today which helps to explain the range of terms used within the LGBTQ community.  It’s a great guide for allies  but be aware that many have been used in a derogatory way by straight, white, cisgender (defined below!) people, and were reclaimed over time by the LGBTQ community.

Here’s the transcript of Sara Snyder’s article in full:

This list is by no means exhaustive, and some of these terms — because they are so personal — likely mean slightly different things to different people. If you’re puzzled by a term and feel like you can ask someone you love in the LGBTQ community to help you make sense of it, do it. But also be careful not to put the burden of your education on other people when there’s a whole wide world of resources out there.

LGBTQ: The acronym for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer.” Some people also use the Q to stand for “questioning,” meaning people who are figuring out their sexual orientation or gender identity. You may also see LGBT+, LGBT*, LGBTx, or LGBTQIA.    I stands for intersex and A for asexual/aromantic/agender. The “A” has also been used by some to refer to “ally.”   Speaking of intersex: Born with sex characteristics such as genitals or chromosomes that do not fit the typical definitions of male or female. About 1.7% of the population is intersex, according to the United Nations.   Sex: The biological differences between male and female.  

Gender: The societal constructions we assign to male and female. When you hear someone say “gender stereotypes,” they’re referring to the ways we expect men/boys and women/girls to act and behave.  

Queer: Originally used as a pejorative slur, queer has now become an umbrella term to describe the myriad ways people reject binary categories of gender and sexual orientation to express who they are. People who identify as queer embrace identities and sexual orientations outside of mainstream heterosexual and gender norms.  

Sexual orientation: How a person characterizes their sexuality. “There are three distinct components of sexual orientation,” said Ryan Watson, a professor of Human Development & Family Studies at the University of Connecticut. “It’s comprised of identity (I’m gay), behavior (I have sex with the same gender) and attraction (I’m sexually attracted to the same gender), and all three might not line up for all people.” (Don’t say “sexual preference,” which implies it’s a choice and easily changed.)  

Gay: A sexual orientation that describes a person who is emotionally or sexually attracted to people of their own gender; commonly used to describe men.  

Lesbian: A woman who is emotionally or sexually attracted to other women.  

Bisexual: A person who is emotionally or sexually attracted to more than one sex or gender.  

Pansexual: A person who can be attracted to all different kinds of people, regardless of their biological sex or gender identity. Miley Cyrus opened up last year about identifying as pansexual.  

Asexual: A person who experiences no sexual attraction to other people.

Demisexual: Someone who doesn’t develop sexual attraction to anyone until they have a strong emotional connection.

Same-gender loving: A term some in the African-American community use instead of lesbian, gay or bisexual to express sexual attraction to people of the same gender.  

Aromantic: A person who experiences little or no romantic attraction to others.  

Gender identity: One’s concept of self as male, female or neither (see “genderqueer”). A person’s gender identity may not align with their sex at birth; not the same as sexual orientation.  

Gender role: The social behaviors that culture assigns to each sex. Examples: Girls play with dolls, boys play with trucks; women are nurturing, men are stoic.  

Gender expression: How we express ourgender identity. It can refer to our hair, the clothes we wear, the way we speak. It’s all the ways we do and don’t conform to the socially defined behaviors of masculine or feminine.​  

Transgender: A person whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.  

Cisgender: A person whose gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth.  

Binary: The concept of dividing sex or gender into two clear categories. Sex is male or female, gender is masculine or feminine.  

Non-binary: Someone who doesn’t identify exclusively as female/male.  

Genderqueer: People who reject static, conventional categories of gender and embrace fluid ideas of gender (and often sexual orientation). They are people whose gender identity can be both male and female, neither male nor female, or a combination of male and female.


About Steven

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.

Contact

Feel free to reach out if you’d like to discuss these or related topics. Follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Here are some more blog posts which may be of interest:

Research

Have a look at the research questionnaires / surveys that are currently underway on the Research page.

Follow on social media