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Strategic workforce diversity and workplace inclusion

It is apparent that companies that address workplace inclusion and workforce diversity from a structured perspective, based upon company strategy, can communicate the what, the why and the how of change far more effectively than those who don’t.

This comes from interviewing 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

As a result they deliver change more effectively by strategically aligning their EDI 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 this 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. The lived experience of people who are “different” in some way is often that they are not as included, or able to succeed, as others.

It is apparent that diversity without inclusion, or inclusion without diversity, doesn’t yield the expected benefits. This applies whether one takes a workforce diversity perspective, or a workplace inclusion one on these issues.

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.

Many if not most organisations need 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

A strategic diversity and inclusion approach is needed. Given that an organisation is dependent upon its people to deliver its stated objectives, this is clearly a strategic issue. Workplace inclusion and workforce diversity is often seen as a project for HR to address. Often also 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. Leaders should sponsor and activate a structured strategic approach to engage all levels and departments 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

This framework has been developed based upon the collected insights from market research and best practice approaches. At its core is the principle that inclusion and diversity is a business issue that is managed by business executives. Implementation is by regional leadership, with HR and line management.  

CIPD Annual Conference

At the Chartered Institute of Personnel’s (CIPD) Annual Conference in 2019 I led an event on this – 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 previously existed. Now it does.

Behind every element of this framework is a breakdown of the analysis and work that you can implement to deliver change.

Connect with me to find out more about how to enable strategic diversity and inclusion with this framework. Executive coaching can also enable it. Other models such as the employee life cycle model, can also be used 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.

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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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