Are you heroic? The five-point plan to embed diversity
13 November 2013
A hero in mythology often has close but challenging relationships with the gods. In order to embed diversity, we need to be heroic by being close to the business and challenge any behaviour that gets in the way.
So how do we do it? Here are the five key areas in which we need business to be heroic
1. It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it
Training is not enough. We need to embed equality into as many relevant courses as possible. It’s possible to embed it into presentation skills, communication skills, emotional intelligence courses, interviewing skills, career management, dealing with difficult people and many more. Just like the need to embed the company values into ways of work, we need to embed equality, not keep it separate. We need to align training with appraisals, key performance indicators and bonuses. Lip service doesn’t work, costs money and doesn’t get results.
2. Discuss bias and unconscious bias to reduce it’s impact
Senior leaders need to understand we are all biased. They need to take the Implicit Association tests to understand their unconscious biases more honestly. If we accept it we can change it.
3. Get leadership buy-in to model best behaviour in the business
Leaders need to show and demonstrate their buy-in to diversity by talking about it and demonstrating it. Each leader will do this in different ways. They need to know about the scientific evidence. For example, we are more likely to make stereotypical judgements when under pressure; if we actively tell ourselves not to be biased before making decisions, we are likely to act accordingly.
Leaders need to mentor and act as an advocate for more women. They need to seek out opportunities to do this. They need to be heroic in how they lead the equality agenda and their networking strategy.
4. Know your equality numbers
Businesses are quite reluctant to share their equality numbers. Why is this? It is only with transparency that we can get clarity. Only with clarity can we measure change. There are many companies and academics keen to help crunch the numbers confidentially. Only by identifying the business blockages are can we clear them!
5. Support the home agenda.
Flexible working has a bad name with our male colleagues. It is synonymous with being side-lined. Some are trying to change it by putting forward the business case for flexibility. For example, the shift towards a 24-hour business culture which needs ‘agile’ working.
The next generation wants a culture they can flourish in, where they can have a family or pursue other interests outside of work. If businesses don’t offer it, the next generation will search elsewhere. And women and men will keep leaving their senior roles until this is addressed.
In business we need to be heroic because:
We need to embed the policy not just write it
We need to show behaviour not just talk about it
We need to know the numbers not guess them
We need to own our bias not ignore it
We need to understand flexibility not side-line flexibility
Why do this? Because more women at the top mean an increase in financial return, organisational health and innovative leadership decisions. That’s a quest worth fighting for.
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