Why a joined up approach to creating inclusion pays off…
The recent headlines about the backlash against Unconscious bias training have not been helpful in advancing the creation of diverse and Inclusive workplaces.
It is not the concept of unconscious bias or inclusion training that is the issue… more the execution of it and ensuring it isn’t an isolated event.
We have worked over the last 3 years with Northampton Partnership Homes helping to embed their behaviour “Respecting Each other” and what has made it so successful is the organisation’s understanding that workshops on their own won’t make a difference. There has to be a sustained focus with different angles of support – and this is what NPH have done so well.
Initially all staff including the Senior Leadership Team took part in a programme of interactive workshops helping everyone understand the importance of behaving with respect and inclusion, as an essential foundation in the workplace
Having created a shared understanding of the importance of respectful and inclusive working they have since
- Encouraged all managers to hold discussions with their teams on behaviour and keep this on team meeting agendas
- Set up a group of “Respect Champions” The 5 champions have been proactive in promoting a respectful culture as well as being there in an informal capacity for anyone to talk through concerns or how to address situations where people may have felt uncomfortable
- Identified a “Champion of champions”.. a senior manager who is a visible sponsor for the “Respecting each other” behaviour and a support to the Respect Champions
- Run a dedicated session for the Board to ensure the right behaviours are being led from the very top
- Piloted Speak Up sessions – highly practical sessions to give everyone the confidence to speak up on behalf of themselves or others, if they feel uncomfortable
- Made links to other initiatives such as health and wellbeing and highlighted how the quality of our relationships at work has a direct impact on our mental health
- Incorporated the behaviours, including Respecting Each Other, into their performance appraisal process
- Established regular Respecting Each other workshops as part of Induction for new employees
The last point is where we have seen visible differences. The new people coming into the organisation on these workshops talk, almost without exception, about how welcoming the culture is and critically how much this is role modelled from the top. They know how important inclusion is and are able to talk about what contributes to it and have a language to discuss it.
The issues being raised now are far more about “what happens if…” and understanding others points of view and how to support others, than “I had this example of where behaviour crossed the line… what do I do about it”
NPH have understood from the start that creating and maintaining an inclusive culture doesn’t happen overnight – it takes ongoing commitment and focus – and they are seeing the positive results of this.
For more information about how we work with clients to create inclusive cultures and manage behaviour that gets in the way see our case studies page.