IDC’s Monthly Best Practice: May 2012
Bottom line benefits come from drawing on the power of inclusion
I’ve spoken at two conferences this week on the power of inclusion. In particular, I was asked to describe how to go about building inclusive cultures and this best practice summarises the key aspects of the experience I offered.
Firstly, it is critical to establish a business case to build the senior management commitment needed for the long term strategic effort required. There is, of course, well researched evidence that inclusive workplaces: are more productive; have higher talent retention rates; understand and serve the needs of diverse marketplaces better; generate more innovative solutions to business problems. Compelling though these are, it is my experience that internal evidence is required to really press the senior management start button. IDC does this through carrying out an inclusion diagnostic and we have developed several tools for doing this to suit different client circumstances. We even have an online inclusion diagnostic which we have administered worldwide for our global clients. It is the evidence that emerges from the diagnostic demonstrating that people from different diverse backgrounds are routinely experiencing exclusion that is the real business driver for most senior managers. In change management terminology it is the diagnostic results which ‘unfreeze’ the organisation.
The diagnostic also generates information about the priority issues that need to be addressed, e.g. ‘minority’ groups routinely experiencing exclusion; performance and promotion judgements in relation to minority group individuals being affected by unconscious bias; the flexible working scheme not being managed effectively, etc. This enables the ‘mobilising’ stage of change in which an inclusion steering group is formed and sets up task groups to benchmark good practices and formulate recommendations to address the issues highlighted by the diagnostic. The inclusion steering group also develops a vision of what the organisation will look like in, say, 5 years as a successful and inclusive high performing operation.
The outputs from the task groups enable the ‘realising’ stage of change whereby the steering group develops and incorporates an inclusion change plan into the organisation’s business plan and has this endorsed by the board together with its vision of success in 5 years time. The plan is then rolled out and cascaded down the organisation. Each manager is required to include their own change plan in their business plan. Inclusion change agents are often trained at this stage to help local managers devise and implement their own inclusion change plans.
The final stages are to ‘reinforce’ and ‘sustain’ the delivery of the inclusion change plan. A key reinforcement driver is the behavioural example of the senior management. They need to be exemplars of the new behaviours needed to drive the change to a truly inclusive culture. It is also critical that the steering group monitors progress and measures the extent of the behavioural change. IDC has developed tools for doing this and for developing senior management capability in being inclusive role models. They also need to introduce a means of identifying inclusion success stories from anywhere in the organisation that have brought real bottom line benefits and to ensure that these are publicised. These reinforce the business benefits of inclusion and offer insights to others of actions that they might take. Finally, management performance bonuses need to take into account managers’ progress and success in delivering their inclusion plans.
IDC has considerable experience of helping organisations derive significant bottom line returns from successfully building inclusive cultures. As ever, if you want to know more about our approach to doing this please do not hesitate to contact me.
Dr Ian Dodds, 29 Apr 2012, firstname.lastname@example.org
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