Reflections in D&I

By Rina Goldenberg Lynch and Inge Woudstra

It’s hard to believe, but we’re approaching the end of yet another year.  Who was it that said time flies when you’re having fun? And we certainly have had fun this year.  But also challenges and learnings.  So Inge and I thought we would share with you what we’ve come across this year and what’s made an impact, in the form of answers to five questions.  Here they are:

  1. What was the most requested type of D&I intervention this year?

Rina: The theme this year was definitely Inclusion.  From identifying a company’s Inclusion Statement to creating Inclusive Behaviour Frameworks to delivering training for Inclusive Leadership, most of our work this year has been supporting our clients in developing a more inclusive place to work.

Inge: What I’ve noticed is that organisations have realised that diversity and inclusion issues can’t all be solved within their own organisation. They are joining forces, and membership organisations and industry associations have been asking us for support in increasing diversity in their industries.

  1. What was the most unusual request for support you had this year?

Rina: One company asked us to work with their employees to remind them what working together in the office is like.  Working remotely for a prolonged period had many challenges for companies, including onboarding new employees who had never seen the office, as well as remembering what it means to work in close proximity with others, sharing communal spaces and respecting everyone’s personal values.  Although this was not strictly-speaking a diversity-related engagement, reminding people what their organisation’s purpose is and why they value working there does make it easier for people to be more mindful of each other’s individuality – and what is that if not inclusion?

Inge: That definitely was the client who requested our presence face-to-face abroad during a very uncertain, Covid-laden time. Covid regulations with regards to the requirements to self-isolate changed twice in the 2 weeks leading up to the session. This meant  our travel dates changed 3 times, and we felt like a small miracle had taken place when we actually crossed the border, successfully delivered the workshop and returned on schedule.

  1. What was the biggest trend that you observed this year?

Rina: For me it was more conversations around how to be an ally to others.  What it looks like and what it actually means in actions, not just words and intentions.  There are many more talks and training on this subject taking place, so much so that we have started rolling this out to our clients, as well.

Inge: The biggest trend I observed is one that is continuing from previous years. We have seen Diversity and Inclusion move up the top team agenda. So we are increasingly working with top teams. We help them decide whether and how D&I can be a strategic strength and help achieve their business aims. Once acknowledged, we show them what inclusion looks like, and how leaders can be visible in their support.

  1. What initiatives made the biggest impact?

Rina: Without a doubt, inclusive leadership training was the game changer in 2021.  Given we’re talking about culture change when we’re talking about becoming more inclusive, it’s incredibly important for the leadership to be 100% on board. Talking the talk and walking the walk.  This means not just committing resources and having someone else project-manage it.  This means taking a closer look in the mirror and starting the change with oneself – that’s when culture truly does begin to change.  And that’s what inclusive leadership training is all about.

Inge: We published a D&I Best Practice Guide for the Offshore Wind Industry late last year. This year we have seen that it has been downloaded many times, and has changed conversations in the industry from ‘What can we do?’ to ‘How can we make this happen?’.

  1. What do you think will be the biggest game changer in 2022?

Rina: Diversity and Inclusion is big business these days.  It’s on everyone’s business agenda and there are more and more D&I positions being created in-house.  That’s great to see.  What will make the biggest impact is if those who lead D&I in-house, work closely with C-suite (or equivalent) to ensure that companies are embracing D&I not only because it’s socially and morally the right thing to do, but primarily because they genuinely see it as a business advantage.  I can see that happening with some of our clients already, and I think that will be more and more the case in 2022.

Inge: Millennials and Gen Z now comprise a significant part of the UK’s workforce, and they bring high expectations with regards to diversity and inclusion. At the same time, talent is in short supply, so organisations will increasingly feel the pressure to take inclusion seriously.

What about you?  What have you observed about your organisation’s D&I efforts?  Wherever you are on that journey, if you would like to make serious progress, consider arranging a short call with us.