Leading practise for D&I in 2020

Over the last 8 years, The Dream Collective has made a habit of stepping ahead of the ‘comfortable curve’ on our approach to creating inclusive cultures and advancing more women into leadership. And, it appears that 2020 is no exception to that. 

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking at an event full of recruitment professionals looking to improve their approach to D&I. At this event, I shared a few key insights that leading practice for D&I must be built on in 2020 and given the overwhelmingly positive response I received, I wanted to share them with our wider community. With that in mind, here are three key principles that are underpinning our approach in 2020 and you might pick up that they have a bit of a theme. 

Everyone has unconscious bias

As our wonderful Head of Programs, Brooke Taylor, often says: ‘if you have a brain, you have unconscious bias’. This is because it is a primitive survival instinct that we cannot eradicate. Despite this, we too often create a narrative that unconscious bias is an ailment only suffered by men, and this is woefully incorrect. We all bring our own bias to the table and it affects both ourselves and those around us. We must keep this in mind with how we approach discussions around unconscious bias to ensure that we don’t vilify those who admit to having it, but instead help equip them to mitigate it. 

Everyone needs to bring respect, curiosity & empathy to the table

Genuine progress is often hindered by a lack of respect, curiosity & empathy. I truly believe that we must maintain our passionate commitment to agitating for change in the gender equality landscape, but too often the sentiment stops here, and that is our downfall. We need to be sure to temper this with an understanding that the majority of the population does not want to actively resist progress and rather, simply need to be given the space and grace to understand what they might be missing and given the opportunity to learn. 

Any teacher in the world will tell you that an environment in which you feel defensive or attacked is not a good environment for learning, and it certainly won’t lead to someone wanting to open up about the things they don’t understand.

Therefore, to create the best possible environment to have conversations about diversity and inclusion, we need to bring the same respect, curiosity & empathy that we wish to see in others

Everyone needs to be brought on the journey with us

I have heard it said (and said it myself) many times that ‘it’s ridiculous to ignore half of the human populace!’. This has often been in reference to organisations with little to no female representation in their leadership, or the dreaded all male panel. 

Now, if we apply this same rationale to the work of organisations such as The Dream Collective, who are working to see more women advance into leadership, the same question should be posed. This is why we have decided to tackle this challenge head-on, taking our years of knowledge and leading practice expertise, and channeling it into investing in advancing men’s inclusive leadership capabilities. By doing this, we are able to address both sides of the capability building that is needed to resolve the rift in our leadership pipeline. 

The true success of diversity and inclusion initiatives hinges on the active involvement of everyone, not just segments of the population or organisation. Bringing everyone along on the journey toward more equal and inclusive workplace cultures is the key to driving real progress.

Written by Taylor Hawkins, Head of Innovation & Growth, The Dream Collective