Brexit knocked us for six. And the kick hurt. We have a new Prime Minister and a political landscape in disarray. In time, we will be presented with a new set of rules governing our relationship with Europe.
We are only just beginning to feel the repercussions; socially, economically, politically and culturally. Article by Freddie Alves, Managing Director, Talking Talent. But we must not let our ‘exit’ from the EU encourage ‘exclusion’. There is a real danger that events like Brexit drive attitudes which are inward-looking and excluding. Talent is everywhere. We must ensure opportunity is too. We need to sustain the sense of inclusion that is so vital in maintaining our stable and productive society. All kinds of diverse talent, both inside and outside the UK, will be needed to take on the jobs that must be done, and done well.
The urge to defend ourselves and to diminish or exclude others is not only triggered by huge political events. It comes up again and again in organisations. For example, in a meeting if someone challenges our thinking or suggests a solution we haven’t considered before, or when a colleague offers us honest feedback about a behaviour or a decision they found troubling. For many people, these moments trigger a need to tell that person why they’re wrong and to exclude or ignore their views. This fight or flight reaction shuts us off from a lot of potentially great opportunities to improve the outcomes we achieve.
As individuals we can unlock some of that value, simply by taking the time to: Pause before instinctively rejecting people who are different or ideas that are different from our own. Reflect on what we want to achieve and openly considering how this diversity might help and how best to integrate it into our plans. Only then should we decide and Act – in a better informed and more inclusive way. For me, adopting an Inclusion with Purpose approach is good for organisations as well as individuals. It’s not enough to think about inclusion in terms of creating warm, polite business cultures where we tolerate people’s differences and say good morning to everyone.
Far from it. Inclusion has purpose, an outcome-focused approach and is achieved through an active set of behaviours. Study after study has shown that companies that value and practice inclusion have higher returns on investment. Opportunity Now found that more than 80% of individuals were clear that inclusive leadership made them feel more motivated, loyal and willing to go the extra mile. Similarly, a Catalyst study of inclusive leadership demonstrated that people who felt more included were more innovative and supportive of other team members. Feelings of inclusion tied to a more than 40% difference in these crucial areas of performance.
Whatever we need to get done, whatever our purpose – we can do better when we value different perspectives and experiences and apply them. Understanding both the benefits and challenges diversity will create is a natural part of running a good business. If organisations are genuinely adopting inclusion with purpose then the kinds of questions they should be able to answer include: What potential opportunities do diversity and inclusive practices create for this organisation? For example, can we attract talent from demographic groups others are not yet considering?
Do our leaders manage the impact of diversity skilfully and confidently? For example, are they achieving equally high levels of engagement from everyone in their team, regardless of their differences? What types of diversity might affect the outcomes we are trying to achieve, like consistency of service across a diversity of customers? Do we understand how much our organisation is being affected by diversity today? Do we have the data we need e.g. net promoter scores by demographic group?
Have we designed ways to do things in our business which take diversity into account? For example, do we use a multicultural team to ensure our marketing and branding activities are equally effective across all markets? Inclusion with purpose helps make an organisation resilient during change. Considering how diversity will impact the delivery of results should simply be part of “the way we do business”. Companies must act with intention, not just aspiration. If organisations fully embrace inclusion, they can fuse great talent and diversity and help to make a bit of sense in this unsettled world. By doing so, leaders can make sure that inclusion creates a richer business mix. Talent is everywhere. Let’s ensure opportunity is too.