January 2011 Diversity & Inclusion Best Practice
Diversity and inclusion hot tips for delivering big performance gains in 2011
A year ago I offered my hot tips for 2010 and IDC undertook a lot of work on two of them: ‘Profit generation and, or, efficiency gains, i.e. ROI diversity’ and ‘Addressing unconscious bias and leading and managing inclusively’. Other important work areas in 2010 included:
- Marketplace diversity and, in particular, developing the ability of customer and client facing teams to do so inclusively and without unconscious bias;
- Advising and presenting on gender design preference differences;
- Working with Glowinkowski International (GIL), an IDC strategic partner, to develop its Engagement Styles Indicator (ESI) to measure the extent to which workplaces are inclusive;
- As ever, D&I diagnostics and strategy formulation, including Equality Impact Assessments, and implementation using global best practices.
In 2011, I think that the evidence is that clients will see the following areas as important:
1. ROI diversity interventions for profit generation and, or, efficiency gains
The need to find means of generating profit, or in the Public Sector finding efficiency gains, is going to continue to be paramount in 2011. Diversity ‘blindspots’ offer a mostly untapped and big opportunity. These are missed business opportunities linked to diverse employees, suppliers, community, marketing, business development, or capital investment. Our experience is that any sizeable organisation can find millions of pounds in profit or savings from identifying and addressing diversity blindspots. We offer a three step profit generating/efficiency gains process:
a. Blindspots Audit: identification, and prioritisation, of diversity business opportunities and quantification.
b. Blindspots Training: middle management training and online e-learning to enable middle managers and front-line staff to deliver on the opportunities.
c. Blindspots Profit Generation and /or Efficiency Gains Scorecard: measurement of progress.
2. Addressing unconscious bias to build truly meritocratic cultures
Senior managers often believe that their organisations have meritocratic cultures. However, IDC’s experience is that this is often only the case if viewed through the lens of the group that historically has held the power, usually white, middle aged, physically able, heterosexual men. For individuals in any other group this results in barriers to recognising their true performance contribution and promotion potential. A director once described to me how he had been on a panel which favoured the appointment of a white man in preference to a minority ethnic woman. He was able to persuade the panel to consider the 2 candidates through different lenses. It was only when they did this that they realised that the woman possessed superior qualities in relation to the job’s requirements.
There are big gains to be had from fostering a truly meritocratic culture: retention of diverse talent; a bigger and more diverse promotion pool; performance and innovation gains from diverse individuals feeling more fully included in helping the organisation succeed. This is achieved by raising manager’s awareness of the existence of unconscious bias and interactive theatre is highly effective in achieving this. They then need help to address it through training in bias free performance management and selection interviewing. This all needs to be reinforced by the organisation’s leaders being exemplars of a few, critical, inclusive behaviours targeted on strategic priorities.
3. Building engaging, inclusive workplaces.
Research work carried out by GIL indicates that a 10% improvement in the ESI score of managers, i.e. essentially the extent to which their leadership behaviour engages the workforce, leads to a 20% increase in the workplace climate for engagement and a performance improvement of up to 40%. Hence, there are big bottom line returns, or efficiency gains, available from managers practising engaging behaviours and doing this inclusively. As has been stated in these blogs many times leadership behaviour is the primary influence on workforce behaviour (Prof Ed Schein, Harvard & INSEAD). This requires transformational leadership involving managers offering clarity of long-term direction, i.e. a clear vision, and engaging everyone inclusively in its delivery. Many managers have good skills in transactional leadership, i.e. defining short-term targets and applying performance management processes to deliver them, as opposed to transformational leadership. IDC, because of its deep experience of inclusion, engagement and developing strategically aligned leadership behaviour, is uniquely placed to help clients develop the transformational leadership capability of their managers and obtain the resulting performance gains from an engaging and inclusive workplace. Furthermore, our partnership with GIL means that we now have a powerful tool in the ESI for measuring progress in inclusive engagement.
4. Developing externally focused teams’ capabilities in relating inclusively to their customers, clients, or service users
Clients have been contacting us in recent months to ask for IDC’s help in improving the capability of their sales, client advisor, or service delivery teams to practise inclusive behaviour. In particular, these teams are often unaware of the impact of cultural differences on the sales, advising, or service delivery processes, e.g. the need to relate and converse differently with people from high and low context cultures. Furthermore, GIL’s research has demonstrated clear gender disposition differences between men and women which need to be taken into account. IDC has developed excellent interventions, involving interactive theatre, to drive the development of these capabilities. Finally, another important angle is the design preference differences between men and women, based on the ground breaking research of Gloria Moss. Gloria and I presented on this topic recently at an In-store Marketing Conference and carried out some online research in advance. This asked respondents to rate photos product packaging and store layout designs. The outcome was amazing in that the male and female respondents preferred the designs in the differentiated way we had anticipated to a statistically significant extent. This matters as around 80% of designers are men and are likely to design in line with male preferences and around 80% of purchases are made by women. We have a training intervention which powerfully sensitises the male designers to the female preferences.
IDC has deep experience in its team of these four hot tips for 2011 and will be pleased to discuss any of them with potentially interested organisations.
Dr Ian Dodds,
30 Dec 2010