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Ian Dodds Consulting’s (IDC) Monthly Best Practice: February 2016

By Ian Dodds – The Inclusion Builder

Creating a culture of openness, empathy and inclusion

Recently I attended a launch of a new book ‘Rewire’ by Chris Yates and Pooja Sachdev. It describes itself as offering “a radical approach to tackling diversity and difference”. It makes the case that little progress has been made with diversity and inclusion (D&I) because approaches have focussed too much on: specific contexts; short-term results and commercial returns. It argues that “in order to achieve sustainable positive change we need to focus on how to create a culture of openness, empathy and inclusion”.

Of course, regular readers of my posts will know that this is something I have been advocating for a very long time. More recently, in a post I wrote entitled ‘Delivering Equality for Black Minority Ethnic (BME) Employees’, I argued that the disappointing progress on BME equality was caused by a focus on transactional approaches rather on transformational ones which change mindsets and behaviours. I learned this in my career in ICI, then the largest chemicals company in the world, when I helped factories and businesses up their performance gains by taking a whole systems, transformational approach to building inclusive cultures. This involves:

  1. Offering a vision of future organisational success through developing a workplace, which is inclusive to everyone, whatever their differences, and communicating it to everyone and seeking their feedback on what will help and hinder the delivery of the vision.

  2. Using this feedback to construct a strategy for delivering this vision covering quick wins and longer term strategic actions. Once again this is communicated to everyone and each team is asked to determine its contribution to the strategy.

  3. Setting up a Change Steering Group to drive and monitor the strategy and ensure blockages to it are addressed. This is often called a Diversity and Inclusion Council.

  4. The leaders of the organisation becoming role model exemplars of inclusive behaviour. In my experience this is best effected by their having feedback and coaching on their practice of inclusive behaviour.

  5. Training all of the managers in:

    • unconscious bias;

    • listening skills, including: seeking information; checking understanding; acknowledging feelings and positive contributions; summarising; etc;

    • how to empower people;

    • how to give effective feedback and in-the-moment coaching.

  6. Measuring progress and addressing barriers and sharing success stories and the lessons on good practices from them

This is a process that I have used for many years and always with success. In more recent times I have used it successfully with many clients, including Goldman Sachs, Wates Construction, Cisco Systems and Sodexo, all of which are recognised as champions of Diversity and Inclusion. If you want more information on this please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Dr Ian Dodds, 29 Jan 2016





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