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Ian Dodds Consulting’s (IDC) Monthly Best Practice: September 2017

By Ian Dodds – Lotus Award 2017 for Lifetime Achievement in Pioneering Inclusive Cultures

A highly effective means of determining the extent to which your organisation has an inclusive culture

It is often the case that organisations, which are primarily led by white men, believe that they have an inclusive culture. However, inclusion is often not what people from other diverse groups experience in it. This was brought home to me many years ago when I was asked to do a diversity and inclusion diagnostic for a well-known investment bank. When I presented the findings from the diagnostic to its Diversity and Inclusion Task Force its leader declared that he had thought that the firm was a meritocracy; but the quotes from the women and ethnic minorities showed it was a white male meritocracy and this had to change. It was the quotes that caused him, and his colleagues, to have an emotional reaction which created the will to act. This resulted in the development of a strategy to build an inclusive culture for which Ian Dodds Consulting (IDC) gave guidance and implementation support. Five years later I carried out a second diagnostic and even I was surprised at the success that had occurred in building an inclusive culture. If I hadn’t offered quotes and generated an emotional response at the Task Force presentation I am confident that the Task Force leader would have said ‘thank you very much’, when I finished the presentation, and very little action would have been taken.

I have seen this effect many times. For example, it occurred when I carried out a diagnostic for a leading technology firm at the HR Director’s insistence; even though the CEO had said they were inclusive. When the presentation was made to the Executive Leadership Team, this time using actors to do short scenarios that were informed by stories that we had collected, the CEO declared that he had believed they were inclusive; but clearly they weren’t. This resulted in 3 years of intensive work in which we trained 40 Inclusion Ambassadors to drive the inclusion strategy. Again, this was a huge success with the firm becoming a market leader in recruiting graduate women. It also increased its Innovation Index score, which was vital to it since it knew that inclusion is a key driver of innovation and that was vital to their success.

IDC has always emphasised the value of carrying out a diagnostic at the start of an intervention to leverage Diversity and Inclusion. This enables our clients to understand what is helping and hindering inclusion for people in their organisation. We have done this with interviews or affinity focus groups, e.g. focus groups for women, white men, minority ethnic people, etc. These have usually been accompanied by senior management interviews to obtain a picture of their perceptions of how inclusion plays out in their organisations by comparison with the interview findings. The purpose of these diagnostics has been to establish the issues that need to be addressed to leverage the Power of Inclusion through Inclusive Leadership. However, we always collect quotes in these diagnostics and it is the emotional impact of these that creates the senior management will to act. Our diagnostic involves asking respondents about their experiences of inclusion and exclusion within their organisation. The focus of questions is on how well conditions, practices and behaviours ensure that people, no matter what their diversity or background, feel: valued and respected; their voices are heard; they are given the support they need to perform at their best. We also have an online version of this diagnostic.

If you want more information about our powerful Inclusion Diagnostic please contact me.

Dr Ian Dodds FRSA, The Inclusion Builder


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29 August 2017

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