Inclusion Agenda

Whilst acknowledging the pressure that Covid-19 is putting on the inclusion agenda – this piece argues why it is more important than ever. DEI (Diversity, Equity and inclusion) is likened to a muscle that needs to be exercised frequently for it to grow stronger, or progress will be lost.

In this blog from the LSE, there is a 3 step plan to help businesses think about how to survive the lockdown and prepare for the new normal. At the heart of this plan is a call for organisations to deliver on their stated values – in particular by treating their teams ‘right’. Effectively including people is seen as integral both from an ethical and economic perspective.

Kevin Dolan, Vivian Hunt, Sara Prince, and Sandra Sancier-Sultan, McKinsey

McKinsey makes no bones about it – not only does inclusion still matter, but the best companies are doubling down on their efforts in the light of Covid-19. It describes the kind of systematic, disciplined, long-term approach that makes a difference. It clearly connects inclusion with having a demonstrable impact on culture and performance. If you are trying to convince leaders in your organisation to take inclusion seriously, this is great source material.

Inclusive Leadership

Clarity about one’s role and responsibilities coupled with standards and ownership is the key to accountability. We all need this but in leaders it is critical, as they hold their teams and themselves absolutely accountable.

Concise article on the importance of choosing the right words in a crisis. Outlines how using short sentences, analogies, storytelling and the Rule of 3 can help ensure people understand the message you’re trying to convey.

Rich Lesser and Martin Reeves, BCG

An article from the Boston Consulting Group arguing that resilience is no longer a theoretical concern. C19 has pulled it front and centre along with a need for firms and governments to demonstrate their values and purpose. There will be no ‘return to normal’ – leaders will have to adapt to the cultural shift that C19 has generated.

HR and D&I

This article looks at the errors organisations make in executing on D&I strategies. It is the final summary statement that gives a key view: Infusing accountability at the organizational and individual level is key to building diverse organizations with inclusive cultures.

Ensuring there was joint accountability for inclusion was a key strategy for Microsoft. In 2016, they tied components of executive compensation to internal diversity and inclusion goals. More recently, the company incorporated inclusion into its performance review process for every employee.

This resource list from the ICF, one of the leading coaching bodies, is a helpful collation of materials and guidance. It provides a useful reference point for coaches, as well as helpful information for HR professionals when considering how to adapt their use of coaches in the light of Covid-19.

Ways of Working

A challenge to leaders to identify ways they need to develop to lead effectively in a virtual setting. The article acknowledges the factors that make working together virtually so challenging, and then outlines the questions leaders can ask to help themselves adapt effectively.

A call for business leaders to take the opportunity to learn from what has worked well during the crisis and to question the efficiency of pre-C19 ways of working, with a particular emphasis on navigating a better work-life balance.

The “IBM Work From Home Pledge” is interesting because it moves beyond general principles into explicitly outlining what it means in practice to work well from home. The pledge gets really specific about the ‘how’ – for example when describing working flexibly, being family sensitive and checking in on one another.

Wellbeing

How leaders can help to reduce stress for their teams during the coronavirus crisis. A useful description of how our brains typically respond to different levels of threat, alongside three ways that leaders can help teams to manage the stress this causes.

This article makes explicit the costs of failing to pay attention to the mental health of your people. It outlines the potential consequences of uncertainty and identifies some clear, specific steps that leaders and managers can take to mitigate the impacts of stress, anxiety and isolation.

The unrelenting series of events Black Americans have witnessed before and after the killing of George Floyd is racial trauma and the author outlines how organisations can support the mental health and wellbeing of Black employees by providing them with a safe place to talk and bringing in a skilled expert in racial trauma to help them process what they are experiencing and feeling.

Anti-Racism

Compelling essay on “what it is like to be born a black person, born a long way from the hallowed Board rooms of UK PLC.” It uses the metaphor of ‘kinks in the hosepipe’ to illustrate how black people experience multiple obstacles leading to lives of under-realised potential. The article deconstructs the excuses leaders hide behind and provides specific actions necessary to make progress.

A call for more white people to be active allies, by becoming aware of white privilege and challenging passivity and denial. It takes effort, active listening and is a constant process but is essential if we are to see meaningful and sustainable change.

Kira Hudson Banks and Richard Harvey, Harvard Business Review

An article that explores how leaders can respond to Black Lives Matter and listen to Black experience inside their workplaces. Connecting corporate rhetoric with the daily, lived experience of Black colleagues is crucial if racism within organisations is to be addressed.

Open Mind

Writer and entrepreneur Margaret Heffernan’s TED talk focuses on the value of ‘messy’ human skills like imagination, humility and bravery and how invaluable these are in helping us to cope with an unpredictable future.

Author Rutger Bregman uncovered a real “Lord of the Flies” story of boys stranded on an island – but they did not harm or bully each other, quite the opposite. The boys established a society that focused on co-operation, friendship and loyalty. In the light of the many stories of kindness emerging from our experiences of Covid-19, perhaps we need to challenge our views on human nature and what it is capable of. 

Kira Hudson Banks’ Tedtalk applies the lessons of #MeToo to #BlackLivesMatter. Neither are about ‘bad apples’ or isolated incidences, instead the ‘barrel is rotten’ and we need to tackle the systemic sexism and racism that leads many of us to turn a blind eye. There is a call to stop victim blaming, to humanise the people experiencing discrimination and to take action to dismantle structural racism.