Inclusive Leadership Part Two: Cultural Change

d&i strategies inclusive leadership managing working parents Jan 24, 2017

This is the final article in a two part series on inclusive leadership (click here to read part one). In this piece we talk about systemic and cultural change: what approaches to process can one introduce to make the system more inclusive?


Firstly, we must understand that diversity is not just a talent management issue. In order to achieve diversity and inclusion within an organization, it must exist within the whole work environment. This includes everything from day-to-day processes to organizational structure, from the supply chain to the marketing strategy.  


It is the role of leaders and teams to take a ‘whole of business perspective,’ and create and maintain appropriate frameworks, processes and structures for an inclusive environment across the board. By doing this, new inclusive behaviours are reinforced and supported with structures that can be sustained.  


This may be an easy concept to grasp, but in the real world it’s not so simple. Ideally, you start by reviewing all the processes and policies that impact upon individual, team and business performance.  


The Deloitte diversity and inclusion business integration wheel provides a useful framework with a sample of ideas about where and how energy can be directed for maximum impact, to ensure that organisational practices are aligned with the intent to be inclusive of diversity. The key word here is integration, and the key indicator is when diversity and inclusion are considered to be ‘business as usual’.


For example, how do you currently provide flexibility in work arrangements? This is important to consider particularly in terms of gender. Bear in mind that work flexibility usually leads to better performance. You can get some ideas from this article, ‘The Pioneering Companies Paving The Way In Parental Support.’


Do you reference diversity and inclusion in your corporate values? Do you even have corporate values? Make sure they support and do not undermine the diversity and inclusion policies within your organisation. Take a look at Coca Cola’s Workplace Culture Values for inspiration:  


“Our inclusive culture is defined by our seven core values: leadership, passion, integrity, collaboration, diversity, quality, and accountability. Our central promise at The Coca-Cola Company is to refresh the world in mind, body, and spirit, and inspire moments of optimism; to create value and make a difference.

Two assets give us the opportunity to keep this promise – our people and our brand.

The Coca-Cola Company leverages a worldwide team that is rich in diverse people, talent and ideas.

As a global business, our ability to understand, embrace and operate in a multicultural world -- both in the marketplace and in the workplace -- is critical to our sustainability.

Our diversity workplace strategy includes programs to attract, retain, and develop diverse talent; provide support systems for groups with diverse backgrounds; and educate all associates so that we master the skills to achieve sustainable growth.”


Are your talent management systems vulnerable to interpretation and bias, or do they advantage a narrow view of talent? Is there a gender pay gap and are women advancing at the same rate of men? Another thing to consider is whether you are effectively reaching your customers and markets, or missing out on diverse market insights. How about building an inclusive environment for your employees?


Chemistry giant BASF employs a talent dashboard that allows leaders to gauge diversity and inclusion progress by asking comprehensive questions about their thoughts on the hiring process and retention trends. This ensures that multiple voices are heard and encourages employees to voice their opinions. Strategies like this give a voice to employees who might not otherwise express their opinions.


Healthcare provider Johnson & Johnson realized that to be successful in global diversity, it needed culturally appropriate efforts launched for every region. The company was struggling to combine its diversity efforts in the United States and Europe, so it conducted its first-ever live video conference on mutual perceptions, diversity and respect. Clients and employees reported increased productivity, and overā€Æ100 survey participantsā€Æreported the conference was the most valuable training they had ever experienced.


Remember that culture is established at the top. We covered this in Part One, but it can’t be overstated. In the article “What Does it Take to Create an Inclusive Workplace?,” Paul Hogendoorn, President of OES Inc. located in the UK, discusses two of the ways he sets the tone from the top to encourage an inclusive culture:


“When I make the rounds in the morning, I often say good morning in ten different languages. Of course ‘good morning’ is just about the extent of what I am able to say in many of those languages, but it does put a few smiles on faces. Sometimes it takes intentionally role-modeling examples to illustrate the point that no one person is above any specific task, including myself. Although specific roles may have different values in an organization, as individuals, we are still equal.”


To maximise the value of diversity, activities must be aligned with the aspiration to be inclusive. To be truly inclusive, your workplace culture and daily practices must support diverse people.  

This three part series has brought together the value of diversity in the workplace with the importance of inclusive leaders, inclusive teams and inclusive organisations. It is the combination of diversity and inclusion and how they are integrating into ‘business as usual’ that really changesā€Æthe game.


Thrive is the go-to Talent Management consultancy specialising in helping forward thinking employers to support working parents to thrive in career and family life, to retain top talent and build an inclusive culture . If you need help promoting inclusivity and wellbeing for your employees, please contact us.  

Want to know what are the top 5 characteristics of Exec's who inspire workplace inclusion? Access here.  

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