Several thousand high-end professional employees in blue chip financial services business. Overall demographics more or less matching those of South Africa, and generally positive relationships in the firm. And top leadership is concerned about inclusion:
- People work together, yet go home to divided communities where inequalities are stark
- The higher in the organisation you go, the more “pale and male” it looks
- Few senior women believe it is possible to have a family and still be successful in the business
- Clients ask questions about “how well are you really embracing diversity and inclusion”?
Each functional team works with coaches on what maximising inclusiveness will mean for them, what actions and behaviours will support that, and then goes into action. A month or two later, they meet their coaches to take stock of progress, develop new insights, and revise their action plans. A third session completes the accountability cycle and sets them up for long term sustainable action as well as integration with other teams.
This is not about high-sounding PR statements, it is about the nitty gritty of how to collaborate across a multitude of differences. Each dialogue is different. What is common is that
- All voices are heard
- The team work together to design the culture and atmosphere they want to create
- Rich insight is drawn from experiential learning
Strong support from top management is driven through an interdepartmental Design Team that steers the project. Each team is surveyed before and after the journey – both to shape the conversation and to measure impact.
- Deep new connections forged. Humanity affirmed. Engagement increased.
- Client-facing teams more effectively integrated
- Integration with other initiatives, including leadership development, transformation committee, and line management priorities
- Mentorship and business exposure addressed to change the race and gender and educational background “shape” of the leadership pipeline.