Time and again I am asked for all of the answers and to solve all the challenges facing organisations – that is, how to build and maintain a culture, and develop a diverse and inclusive workforce.
There is no magic bullet, no simple off-the-peg solution. It require some rolling up of the sleeves and hard work over a sustained period. Senior leadership and board members need to track this, just like any other metric in their business.
What business can do is focus on polarity – that is, the direction and speed of travel. It is unrealistic to evolve overnight and not everything will be apparent or even a right-now priority. This is about taking your organisation forward, thinking about your people, brand, customers and service users.
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This is where communication is key – understanding the needs of individuals, asking people how they really feel and then actioning with “you said, we did”.
Employee engagement surveys can work, but even better is an external review. Examine the responses, and almost importantly, look at who isn’t responding.
When analysing the responses it is important to understand “who says”. We want to know who the 15per cent are, who isn’t engaged or satisfied, and we want to know their background so we can understand if our organisation has systemic problem with racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, and so forth.
Only with this level granularity can sound business judgements be made. It’s not the 85% we are most concerned about at this stage, but we do need to understand why some feel a sense of belonging, and learn from our own best practise.
People data can tell us a lot, however sometimes we just need to sit down face-to-face and ask the questions.
It is about polarity – moving from an organisation that isn’t diverse and isn’t inclusive to one that is. In an organisation where we find low inclusion and diversity, we also find low levels of employee satisfaction, loyalty, creativity and innovation.
Looking at organisations that focus purely on diversity, we see high levels of frustration and conflict, unhealthy levels of employee turnover, and continued low levels of work satisfaction and loyalty. On the other hand, when organisation focus simply on inclusion we see low adaptability and agility, group think, with stagnation in employee turnover.
It is only when organisations focus on both diversity and inclusion that we see high loyalty, adaptable and agile teams, healthy levels of staff turnover, and high levels of job satisfaction, creativity and innovation. It’s about setting the direction and pace of change and moving from the negatives to the positives hand-in-hand to ensure a balance of inclusion and diversity with an organisation.
Joanne Lockwood (she/her) is an inclusion and belonging specialist with SEE Change Happen