Updated: Feb 18
Re-framing organisational culture to achieve greater diversity and build an inclusive environment, requires precise executive action.
It is within the boardroom of the executive that diversity and inclusion is given priority, shaped, and brought to life.
The benefits of D&I within strategic developmental activities, is steadily being recognised as important to business success. As such, it is increasingly becoming a focus point within the C-Suite agenda.
As businesses strive for more competitiveness, and seek to attract global talent, corporate organisations are steadily moving to build a diverse and inclusive culture into business planning, and other strategic functions.
Corporate diversity is important for attracting, retaining and developing top global talent.
Corporate recognition of D&I is encouraging. It supports a commitment to develop businesses that are inclusive, and cognisant of diversity and its inherent value.
This demonstrates that corporations are beginning to understand the benefits of diversity, at both business and community levels. They are increasingly willing to aspire, to resetting traditional business cultures, to achieve integration and innovation.
The business case for diversity is becoming a key focus for business. It is increasingly being used as a metric within employee engagement strategies and business performance.
Creating a diverse and inclusive business culture, is a strategic objective of organisations, that seek to increase relevance and competitiveness.
Building diversity into business is a practice is a clear measure of success within operational and productivity frameworks.
Whilst the signs are encouraging, there still remain challenges for corporate leaders.
How do leaders transfer knowledge and understanding of D&I into the real world, rapidly changing, business environment?
How can an organisation ensure that organisational culture is such that, it supports learning and development and behaviours that cultivate inclusive business behaviours?
Re-framing organisational culture.
Organisational culture drives employee behaviour and can be both written and unwritten. It constitutes the values of the organisation and drives employee behaviour.
In order to embed diversity and inclusion, a process of re-framing organisational culture must take place.
This process will ensure that company values, behaviours and attitudes, are reflective of diversity and inclusion, and empower staff, to think and act in new ways.
Essentially, re-framing culture is about creating a 'new personality' for the workplace. The strategic modernisation of thinking, feeling, behaviours and values. This will develop a new 'company character', that will actively support diversity and inclusion.
Re-framing organisational culture, in full or in part, will support diversity and inclusive practice.
Re-framing culture to achieve diversity requires a analysis of the systems, processes and behaviours that govern the operation of a business. This will inevitably include an analysis of organisational culture.
Successful actions to promote D&I are usually preceded by an understanding that diversity is good for business.
Thinking and operating with diversity in mind, will promote actions that supersede outdated organisational / operational cultures, and build more inclusive workplaces.
There are several actions that businesses can take to promote inclusive workplaces and drive innovation and successful outcomes.
Formulate a clear change strategy.
Understanding that diversity is a critical component of building effective business, is the key component of embedding diversity.
It must be considered across all aspects of the business, not just across demography. Diversity is not a numbers game. It’s all about inclusion.
In order to achieve better, more enhanced business outcomes, D&I must be embedded across business, policies, functions and operations.
A shared understanding of diversity must be secured to enable the process of adapting organisational culture.
This understanding must be developed, and supported by, corporate actions that demonstrate commitment to the business benefits of diversity.
Model culture change.
Once a plan has been agreed that incorporates supportive actions, C-Suite leaders and corporate managers, must be made accountable for driving the process forward.
Leaders must ensure that they embed diversity into both business actions, and group and individual behaviours.
This includes through the management of staff under their area of control, and staff and team development. It also includes any communication with external colleagues and customers.
Develop staff sensitivity.
Middle-managers play a critical role in translating corporate directives around D&I. This layer of management is at the interface of relations executive and work and project teams.
The management role is crucially used to drive D&I across strategy and showcase behaviours that help support practice and behaviours within staff teams.
Modify systems to support culture change.
Any attempt to build D&I through an organisational culture change process, must be supported by actions to remove systemic barriers to inclusion.
These may be conscious or unconscious, and serve only to hinder the process of embedding diversity. D&I training cannot be successful in isolation and must be supported by systemic change.
It is important to set realistic goals to support organisational change. Making sure that SMART goals are set, which include realistic targets, will help to build progress over time.
Strategic change programme elements must be communicated, and reinforced with regular messages, activities and supporting events.
This will establish commitment towards corporate D&I goals. It will ensure that diversity becomes a part of everyday workplace behaviours and operations, over time.
Promoting diversity and Inclusion.
Promotion of organisational diversity must be as much a part of internal operations, as it is of external relations. Communicating corporate D&I initiatives widely to customers and external partners will help to build confidence and trust.
It also helps with the development of an engaged customer base who can develop a positive association with the corporate brand.
By reinforcing an authentic commitment to diversity, with outward facing communications, diverse talent and customers will be attracted to the business brand.
Steering away from initiatives that do not actively support real and authentic D&I. Building diversity is a process of enhancing both organisational behaviours and processes to achieve better business outcomes.
It is important that your external messaging reflects an authentic commitment towards this overall aim.
A modern, progressive organisation thrives on diversity, but inclusion will support the optimal level of success. Actions to re-frame organisational culture are critical to achieving successful D&I outcomes.
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Kenroi Consulting is a bespoke diversity consultancy providing tailor made solutions across the UK.
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