Future Proofing Value: Fostering a Culture of Inclusion
Before planting a seed, we tend to the soil first; only then will the seed grow. The same can be said for inclusion and diversity; without tending to the culture and fostering an inclusive organisation, diversity will not be able to flourish. We want organisations in our portfolio to be inclusive places to work for all employees and for those businesses to benefit from the creative problem-solving and innovation that arises when diversity is championed, and people are valued.
Since the introduction of the 2010 Equality Act, the way society talks about inclusion and diversity has changed. When the legislation was introduced, the focus was on compliance, equal opportunities and eliminating discrimination. While this was a noble start, we came unstuck because this doesn’t take into account that people aren’t starting from an equal position. So, to address the intersectional differences individuals face, we started talking about equity. Out of these conversations came actions tailored to individual circumstances to achieve a more equal outcome. While this has begun to address some inequalities, this approach does not get to the route of the problem: that structural barriers cause systemic inequity. This is why our words have changed again, and the emphasis is now on inclusion.
Inclusion is about removing structural barriers that prevent people from bringing their whole selves to work and, in effect, prevent them from thriving. Inclusion is not just ‘being welcoming’ but enabling people to belong, learn and grow in the workplace and have the psychological safety to challenge their peers. Yet, inclusion is also intangible; it is a culture that permeates the entire organisation, or it doesn’t exist at all and fostering an inclusive culture is hard. This is why we engaged inclusion experts, Inclusive Employers, to support our portfolio companies in this journey.
On Tuesday the 26th of September 2023, we invited People Leads from across our portfolio to engage in a day of knowledge sharing focused on action. Addison Barnett, Director of Impact and Major Programmes, started the day with the ‘why’ because the only way to achieve engagement in the inclusion journey is to understand why inclusion and diversity are important personally and for the wider business.
Each delegate was asked to think about why inclusion is important:
- To them personally
- To their organisation
- To Palatine
The ‘why’ should form the foundation of any inclusion strategy; therefore, once attendees were able to identify why it was important, they had the bones of an inclusion statement for their organisations. Some of the why’s included:
- Best service for customers
- Inclusion = innovation
- A culturewhere everyone can thrive and can succeed
- Workforce supports clients better
- Inclusion = performance
- Make a difference to our sector/industry
- Have a positive impact on everyone
Next was the how. One of the challenges of inclusion and diversity is how overwhelming it can be; therefore, we need to think about what we can control now and what is doable to enable influence in the future.
“The way that we shift the world is by lots of individuals stepping in the same direction.” – Addie.
Our actions need to start somewhere, and The Deloitte diversity and inclusion maturity model is a great tool to identify the necessary steps to foster an inclusive culture. Delegates were asked to assess their current practices and determine where on the model they believed their organisation to be, and in doing so, consider the business’ key stakeholders: employees, leadership and customers. We used this as a starting point to discuss how to progress internally.
Next came the actions, and each person in the room identified what they needed to do to move further along the inclusion maturity model. As a minimum, we asked our People Leads to develop and implement an I&D policy (if not already) to set the foundations of their I&D strategy. Some of the measures pledged by attendees can be found below, and we expect to see these actioned in the coming months:
- Speak to the leadership team to understand their aspirations and understand what is feasible
- Train the leadership team in I&D
- Ensure the ‘why’ of inclusion is aligned to the business plan
- Baseline current position and collect diversity data
- Assess recruitment practices and ad content
- Train line managers in I&D
- Develop an inclusion toolkit for line managers
- Review People policies to ensure they are inclusive
- Revisit onboarding forms
Nicola Lewis, Senior HR Advisor at Easyfundraising said: “It was good to meet up with other HR Leaders to at the forum. I had tangible actions rather than abstract ideas at the end of the day!”
The day also included a CPD session on neurodiversity, a panel discussion on pro-neurodiversity actions at Cyberfort with Sustainability Director Steph Wall and Head of People at Cyberfort Vicky Walker, and a discussion on Palatine’s I&D strategy with Sustainability Executive Nikhita Mistry.