How do you anchor diversity and inclusion in your organization's leadership? KPMG recently organized a reflective session around this theme, which is – justifiably – high on the agenda for many businesses and organization.
Dozens of representatives from the Dutch commercial world met at the KPMG headquarters one afternoon in November for the second event in the series about diversity and inclusion (D&I). After author and anthropologist Joris Luyendijk had unveiled his theory about the dominance of straight white men ('the seven ticks') last time, the focus was on strategic inclusion this time. How do you anchor D&I in your organization's leadership? This is of great importance, because organizations that have D&I in their genes perform demonstrably better on all fronts.
Experiential specialist turned expert
A first-class keynote speaker Raisa Ghazi was invited again this year. Ghazi calls herself the 'Robin Hood of Leadership' and is invited to speak all over the world on topics close to her heart: inclusive leadership and female leadership. Her own life story serves as the point of departure for that.
Ghazi has a migration background and grew up in Amsterdam-West. She attended what she refers to as a 'black school', where she performed badly. But that changed when she moved to Aalsmeer. There she was one of the few children with a migration background at an otherwise 'white school'. The quality of education was far better and it was not long before Ghazi was second best in her class. That experience changed her perspective on life and she decided to make diversity and inclusion her mission.
Strategy is key
Ghazi emphasized the importance of inclusive leadership in her keynote speech. Because, she said, a company might have plenty of diversity within, but without inclusive leadership, the organization does not know how to deal with it. A strategy is required to make inclusive leadership a core value and standard practice within your organization. Because strategy accounts for 80 percent of success, while skills account for only 20 percent.
A good strategy is underpinned by five pillars, Ghazi asserts: a vision (how do you see yourself as an inclusive leader?), assessment (where are we now?), the setting of objectives, the monitoring of progress, and an action plan. Do not confuse your action plan with the objectives, Ghazi warns. The action plan consists of small steps; the objectives you want to achieve are far greater.
It all starts with listening
In small groups during short break-out-sessions, the participants discussed what objectives they wanted to achieve and how they could achieve them. A frequently heard objective was that everyone in the organization should feel that they belong. There was a great deal of agreement about how that objective could be achieved: it all starts with listening to one another. Other action points that were named included: broach the subject in a light-hearted way, make a personal commitment for which you as a leader are accountable, and specify KPIs that you include in your annual plan.
Many ideas flew across the table and one of the attendees noted that this session "had an activating effect. You hear ideas from your peers in other organizations. That motivates you to start working on them in your own organization."