The key to inclusion in the gender diversity & inclusion game ....

We've all heard of the terms diversity and inclusion. But what do they really mean? Let me put it into context. 

Remember back to when you were a kid in school. Specifically when you were out on the oval suffering through being picked by the cool and sporty spice kids to be on the team (unless you were the cool and sporty kid yourself of course!).

I hear you!  I wasn't into team sports as a kid so that made me a lousy pick despite being relatively athletic and highly coordinated.  And it meant that I regularly had to suffer the indignity of wondering if this was the week when I'd face the humiliation of missing out or being last.

Diversity in this context would be the sporting captain picking a team of people with different strengths and weaknesses so that the team played better overall.  Not just going with those he or she liked, but understanding that this was for the benefit of the team's longer term performance so selecting for skills and attributes that were different to bolster the team overall..

Inclusion would have been to ensure that each of the skill sets and attributes selected for were equally valued  (the goal shooter no more or less valued than the centre or the wing defence). That even the kid chosen last felt as though they were part of the cool brigade, a valued contributor and equally able to participate in the direction of the team as anyone else. Late to the party didn't mean valued less.

In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.
— Sheryl Sandberg

In a business environment?

Diversity and inclusion in a business setting are not really different in my mind, except that the cool kids are still ruling the roost and the inclusion piece is still a long way off.

Yet there is mounting evidence purely for the business benefits of the cause including recent research demonstrating that companies with at least 30% female leadership adding as much as 6% to net margins. (Peterson Institute for International Economics 2017)

Diversity - where you have different types of people working in an organisation. In the gender diversity movement it means organisations who have an even spread of men and women throughout, at all levels. Equal numbers of women and men in support type functions. Equal numbers women and men in leadership and management type functions.

Inclusion is where the organisation adapts and changes to embrace and value the different thinking, different approaches and different ideas that will result from having more women in senior roles and more men in more enablement/optimisation functions. 

You can invite women to management roles, to the C-suite and to the Board room table. But unless you also create and drive a culture that treats women, their leadership style and their opinions with respect, until womens' contribution is welcomed and valued, and the incumbent is prepared to adapt and relish the opportunity to change and grow - you are quite simply missing the point.

  • Quotas and targets will drive gender diversity.
  • Inclusion is the key that unlocks the benefits (social, cultural, economic & business) that gender diversity brings. 

Both require self awareness, direct links to strategy and future focused leadership, along with role modelling from the top down. And none of us will reap the rewards until the inclusion piece is solved.

And as women are still 'leaning out' at the rate of knots, business, corporate and government are obviously still not getting the formula right.

There is one company in Australia who is doing this extremely well. Aurecon headed by Giam Swiegers is winning hands down in reaping the innovation benefits that diversity AND inclusion bring.  I'd love to see far more.

Feminine leadership superpowers  + inclusion = priceless

Vive la révolution!  #talentrevolution #ambitionrevolution

So has your organisation really embraced the whole 'inclusion' piece?  Or is there still a layer of 'permafrost' in upper middle and lower senior management who haven't got the memo yet? Drop me a line and let me know. 

And reach out if you want help with this.


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