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The nine 'levers' you need to pull if you're serious about inclusion

At the current rate of progress with inclusion, it won't be our daughters who stand the same chance as our sons of being the next CEOs. It won't even be our granddaughters. It will be our great-granddaughters who finally stand the same chance as our great-grandsons – but, even then, only if they are caucasian and heterosexual, otherwise it'll knock it back another generation

It's time for organisations to stop talking about creating inclusive workplaces and start making it happen. And those inclusive workplaces have to be populated with a diverse group of people.

It's only when these two things are combined that they start to drive better business results. Here are nine 'levers' you need to pull to speed things up if you're serious about inclusion.

1. Watch your language

It's important to be clear about what the terms diversity and inclusion actually mean and what they do – and look at the separate effects of each of them on your business. Diversity is something you can measure. Inclusion is about creating an environment where everyone with the capability to excel can do so.

2. Articulate the business case

A lot has been said about the business benefits of diversity and inclusion, but people are still not buying into it. We have given people the illusion that things like enhanced creativity and innovation happen as if by magic when we create an inclusive environment. It's time to clearly articulate the business case for inclusion.

3. Measure wisely

Measuring inclusion is critical – if you are not measuring it, you cannot prove it. Employment engagement surveys are a useful tool and hiring numbers are important. But it's also crucial to measure talent velocity – the speed at which diverse talent permeates through your organisation.

4. Make the procurement director your friend

Procurement directors have successfully held their organisations to account over things like modern slavery and sustainability. It's now time for them to do the same for diversity and inclusion. We need to get to a situation where companies look down through their supply chains and insist that they all meet a certain standard.

5. Make training and embedding mandatory

Research suggests that mandatory training in things like unconscious bias does not work on its own. Embedding the training is crucial. The way to get results is to make it compulsory for managers to discuss with their teams afterwards what they’re going to do to drive things forward.

6. Drive through performance management

It is one thing to put quotas in and expect managers to hit them. But it's more effective to encourage inclusive behaviour by driving it forward in your organisation – you then find individuals going out of their way to attend employee resource group (ERG) meetings or mentor someone of a different gender group.

7. Ensure D&I and HR are empowered

Councils, committees and ERG groups can play a valuable role in driving inclusion but it's important to make them accountable. Ensure there is a direct line between their activities and business outcomes – and get them to draw up a comprehensive business plan, including specific impacts they can have on the organisation.

8. Get rid of the bias from your processes

Identify the 'pinch points' of bias in your processes. Look at your criteria for hiring, for example, as keeping them to a minimum will attract the most diverse group of candidates. And think about how interviews are conducted. Build in a set of criteria you are interviewing for and score them independently.

9. Make sure the C-suite means it

You can't create diversity on a shoestring. If your D&I leader is starved of resources in terms of people or finances, then all the good intentions in the world will not make a difference. Think about who your D&I leader reports into. If it is not directly into your CEO, you have to ask whether it is seen as strategic or just a 'nice to have'.

Angela Peacock is CEO of diversity and inclusion training consultancy PDT Global

Further reading:

Pushing for progress: the workplace's role in political and social movements

Diversity and inclusion key to agility post-pandemic

Glassdoor introduces diversity and inclusion rating