Magazine article Management Today

Getting the Best from Everyone

Magazine article Management Today

Getting the Best from Everyone

Article excerpt

While most companies are now aware of the benefits of diversity in the workforce, they are less clear about what inclusion is, why it's important and what they should be doing about it.

MT in association with KPMG put together a panel of experts, drawn from consulting to the army, to debate the steps leaders can take to fully harness the potential of their people.

Ian Wylie, special projects editor, MT: Are most organisations moving on from increasing the diversity of their workforces to policies and actions that are more inclusion-based?

Helen Tucker, HR global diversity and inclusion director at Procter & Gamble: Different organisations are at very different stages in their maturity on this issue. Understanding what we might mean by inclusive leadership is important because I think there are a lot of organisations still in diversity mode. Inclusive leadership is about embedding diversity and inclusiveness into our organisational cultures, rather than talking about it as a topic on the side.

Dr Doyin Atewologun, lecturer in organisational leadership and learning, Queen Mary University: I agree, but it raises the question about whether organisations can skip a stage. Do they have to go through diversity to get to inclusion?

Brigadier Mark Abraham OBE, chief of staff support command, British Army: Diversity is quite obvious: it's measurable. Your organisation might not be very diverse and yet could be quite inclusive. Equally, your workplace might not be an inclusive one even though your workforce is very diverse.

Melanie Richards, vice chairman, KPMG UK: I don't think you can do inclusion without diversity. It's possible to have lots of different points of view around the table and people don't need to look different for that to happen. But if you've got to the point of true inclusive leadership then by definition you should have a diverse-looking workforce.

Zaid Al-Zaidy, chief executive, McCann London: In my industry, I don't believe the diversity agenda has even been properly raised, quite frankly. However, I think that inclusion as a behaviour has always existed in my industry because our product is creative ideas. We run a very democratic organisation in which ideas can come from anywhere Inclusivity in my industry has always been at the heart of getting the best ideas to clients fast. So for me the challenge is, are those ideas fresh enough, relevant enough, competitive enough? And that raises the question of how diverse is your workforce.

Sue Whalley, chief operations officer, Royal Mail: Oftentimes, organisations can think that they've accomplished something by simply ticking the diversity box. What we're finding is that greater diversity gives you the opportunity to have greater ideas and to work in a different way. But unless you harness that in a different leadership style, you can't get the benefits of the more diverse workforce. One of our posties recently suggested a great idea of circulating missing person alerts to all our posties. Part of inclusive leadership is to say yes, that's a good idea, let's embrace it rather than pretend good ideas can only come from the leaders of the organisation.

Richards: I think inclusion is about harnessing what you understand and what you need to change. If you don't understand what you have, which is the starting point, you don't know where you might want to move it to, or indeed what you're missing out on in terms of opportunity.

Tucker: Andres Tapia (head of US think-tank Diversity Best Practices) has a really neat phrase: diversity is the mix, and inclusion is making the mix work.

Abraham: Another way of explaining it is that diversity is inviting people to the party, inclusion is getting them to dance. You can invite a lot of people to your party, but if you don't understand how they want to dance and they don't know why you want to dance with them, you can end up with great diversity but not a lot of inclusion. …

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