Our Head of Innovation & Growth, Taylor Hawkins, was invited to Gartner Sydney for their International Women’s Day panel to discuss how diversity and inclusion initiatives can be effectively implemented into organisational culture.
Gartner is an international leading research and advisory company that aims to provide senior leaders with insights, advice and tools to succeed in the future of business. The session fleshed out a number of great insights, providing practical examples of how to effectively incorporate diversity and inclusion practises from the individual to company-wide level.
You can make a difference
A common misconception around diversity and inclusion is that “it’s an HR issue”. The result of this is that individuals shirk responsibility for their own behaviour and the impact that it has. At the end of the day, an organisation is made up of its people, so consider the difference between an organisation who’s employees act in an inclusive way, compared to one who’s don’t. For organisations to truly be ahead of the curve, it is not enough for policies to be implemented at a HR level, they need to be implemented & adopted on the individual level too.
On a day-to-day basis, it is our own small actions that make others feel included. Consider the language that you use both in casual conversations and meetings; inclusive language acknowledges diversity and is sensitive to people’s differences, is respectful and promotes equitable opportunities. Be mindful of the way you respond to others, particularly when they share feedback or utilise flexibility.
Inclusion is two-way
Inclusion is circular and runs both ways – if we want to be included we need to be inclusive ourselves. If your workplace is not stepping up to inclusion, you should step up and stand out to make yourself heard. More and more we are seeing real change and progress with diversity and inclusion initiatives coming from the ground-up in organisations.
Feedback is essential for inclusive cultures but being empathetic in your feedback does not mean failing to be direct – to be clear is to be kind. Growth requires constructive feedback, it is how we develop and improve, so we need to nurture organisational cultures which encourage effective feedback to be given and received. When providing feedback, ensure you are as specific as possible and try to suggest an alternative or recommendation, rather than just making a general statement.
A great way of making progress within a singular team is the creation of social contracts, being an explicit agreement laying out the ground rules for team members’ behaviour. It provides the opportunity to have a conversation and agree on what team members stand for, while consecutively creating a tool to hold each other accountable.
The whole conversation
Increasingly, we are seeing that the effectiveness of inclusion initiatives are undeniably enhanced when the conversation is (mind the irony) inclusive. This means that if the conversation is about gender diversity, men need to be involved, not just women. Further, senior leader buy-in to the conversation is essential. For any initiative to be effective, it needs to have company-wide support, without this, what we refer to as artificial harmony is created – a state of dissonance in an organization where harmony appears to exist on the surface, but underlying disagreement around key cultural pillars pervades.
While the effectiveness of diversity and inclusion practises requires adoption and commitment from the entire organisation, the practical application begins at an individual level. It is crucial for organisations to consider early on the potential challenges and resistance that may arise through the implementation of new practises so that they are equipped to effectively respond to and overcome them.