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

By Ian Dodds – The Inclusion Builder

How to succeed in enabling more women to achieve senior positions

Recently, I led a workshop in Warsaw for a global client’s Central European operation. It was hugely successful from the feedback I received. The focus of the workshop was succeeding with enabling more high potential women to reach the senior levels of the organisation.

Firstly, we discussed unconscious bias and, in particular, how it plays out in relation to some key gender difference tendencies, e.g. women tending to be more modest, detailed, conscientious, perfectionist and transformational than men. In my view it is key, when helping clients learn about unconscious bias, that you cover how it plays out in relation to gender difference tendencies, cross-cultural difference tendencies and generational ones. In this instance we focussed on the gender difference tendencies as the focus was on women.

We then looked at how gender difference tendencies and unconscious bias needed to be addressed in relation to talent management practices. This included training managers in these topics and also interactive effectiveness. This latter training enables interviewers and performance reviewers to be more skilled in listening to respondents and in seeking information, checking understanding and helping them develop ideas.

Finally, the most critical part of the workshop was helping the participants understand how to build an inclusive culture. The importance of this in advancing women was demonstrated to me some 10 years ago when IDC was invited to partner with the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to help them build an inclusive culture worldwide. A sample of these Posts were selected in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas for an IDC consultant and/or its theatre producer to visit to interview key individuals and opinion formers to understand how inclusion and exclusion played out in these Posts. This resulted in a 1 day workshop 'Making the Most of Difference' (MMoD) being designed involving: a quiz to cover the factual information, e.g. Equality Laws and FCO Equality and Diversity policies; scenarios and case studies to build understanding of exclusion and inclusion, including for the different diversity strands; the skills for harnessing difference inclusively to meet stakeholder needs more efficiently and effectively; action planning to generate individual actions and Post specific Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan recommendations. MMoD was delivered by IDC across the FCO’s over 200 Missions and Embassies worldwide. The intervention's methodology was based on transformational change concepts involving: the need to make both an emotional impact, via the interactive theatre scenarios, and an intellectual one by making the business case for inclusion; generating dissatisfaction with how things are now and offering a vision of an inclusive FCO; engaging staff in informing and delivering their Post's Diversity and Inclusion Action Plans; IDC's knowledge of Equality and Diversity issues for the different affinity group strands. It resulted 2 years later in the FCO being a finalist in the Opportunity Now Awards for the progress it had achieved in advancing women.

If you would like to discuss how to build an inclusive culture to successfully enable the advancement of women, or other underrepresented groups, into senior levels please get in touch with me.

Dr Ian Dodds FRSA,



29 Aug 2016

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