Inclusion is more than the business case

by Nov 16, 2023

Why inclusion is more than the business case

Inclusion is more than a business case, it is a combination of changes and successes that transform workplaces on an ongoing basis.

 

Whenever I do any presentation on gender balance, attracting female talent, diversity and inclusion, or sexism and harassment I always have two requests.

  • Request 1  – Make it short like a Ted Talk. Ted Talks are typically 18 minutes long.
  • Request 2  – Focus on the business case.

The reality is they shouldn’t pursue this strategy solely because it makes money, they should do it because it’s the right thing to do. Inclusion is more than the business case and definitely can’t be covered in 18 minutes.

It’s ongoing.

 

Organisations need a WIIFM

Over the years the stats I use have increased to meet the growing need of organisations to understand exactly why they should hire and promote women and people from diverse backgrounds. It’s their “what’s in it for me” angle.” The reason for me being asked to do this is generally because they tened to fall into the following categories: older males, engineers, lawyers, tech, or some other potentially non-diverse demographic. They are basically comfortable where they are and are afraid of change and above all of losing out.

When you look at the makeup of any organisation the lack of diversity should be statistically improbable. As recently as 2015 there were more CEOs called John than women CEOs. Women CEOs now outnumber any single male name!

Wow! Is that really an achievement?

The business world is not mirroring the wider culture of today where a growing number of people don’t accept the status quo and want change.

Gender balance or gender parity has morphed from equal opportunity in the 1980s through diversity to today’s inclusion. These inclusion programmes seem to be more palatable to a wider audience, but the reality is that they can skip gender balance and diversity. Homogeneous organisations can be inclusive, but not necessarily diverse or gender balanced. Think of the pally bro’ boiler room cultures of some financial services organisations.

Tails wagging dogs

Frequently organisations fail to make effective strategies or they implement them inconsistently because that involves both leadership commitment and systemic change.  Instead, they rely heavily on individual behavioral change. They don’t factor in that if the rank and file change its behaviour and thinking at a different pace to the leadership, that is going to produce employee engagement issues. You will have a situation where the tail is wagging the dog.

The reasons that these initiatives fail are a lack of serious commitment at a leadership level and fear of middle management. Mid-level supervisors and managers are at the sharp end of any change management and receive the greatest pushback. It’s hard for them to grasp the importance of the change because they are rarely incentivised and rewarded for results.

Worth a read: 6 fixes to help get women into leadership roles – 3 Plus International

Groundwork to inclusion policies

Organisations can make inclusion part of an employee’s KPIs but that has some downsides. It’s important before embarking on any D & I programme to do some basic groundwork.

1. Carry out an audit

Know exactly what your company’s change management plans are and how ready they are for change. Identify areas of vulnerability and pinpoint systems and protocols that require modification or complete elimination Identifying KPIs should be included in this activity.

2. Antipcipate Reactions and Resistance

Many organisations plan significant changes without having a good understanding of how they will be received and the level of readiness and resistance. This means that plans have to be tailor-made around the specific culture and one size won’t suit all.

3. Show Commitment

Organisations need to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to carrying out this culture shift initiative. It’s essential that all involved in the process stay focused and don’t allow themselves to be derailed especially if they experience pushback. Nay-sayers are quick to find a chink in the leadership front or a flaw in the system.

3Plus offers professional unconscious bias training programmes. Find out more HERE.

4. Measure results

After rolling out initiatives, organisations have to measure the effectiveness of their initiatives.  This will include collecting data, noting the impact, what needs to be tweaked, what requires additional resources (energy or budget) and what needs to be stopped. They should reassess their strategy based on these results.

5. Refine and repeat

The results help organisations set KPIs and individual objectives. There will always be a need to readjust wider strategies to meet any changes in the market, and within the organisation and to meet unforeseen challenges the leaders encounter.

It is not easy to implement DE& I, nor is it fast. But inclusion is more than a business case and it’s most definitely not a Ted Talk. It’s a combination of small, medium, and large changes and successes that transform workplaces on an ongoing basis.

 

Does your workplace lack diversity? 3Plus can help you with our specialist services for Executive Search and Diversity Recruitment.

 

Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
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