Inspirational… Practical… Informative… are just three of the words participants used to describe our recent TMS Forums on Diversity, Inclusion and Performance. We have been delighted by the positive feedback from members who joined us in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
Our approach to these forums was simple: we focused on a topic of your choosing, invited some exemplary practitioners to share their stories, and came together as a group to listen and exchange insights and tips.
So, how did the forums go and what did we learn?
How does TMS fit in to the Diversity and Inclusion conversation?
The Team Management Wheel provides a simple, constructive and strengths-based approach to difference through the lens of work preference. Although we may be skilled at acknowledging differences, it is a further step to actively foster inclusion.
Within the TMS framework, the Linking Skills Model offers a key competency set to help maximise the inclusion of, and contribution from, diverse team members.
Following on from this and recognising that organisations need to identify a potential performance gain from the collaboration between diverse individuals, the Types of Work Wheel provides insight into how team performance can be achieved.
Seven Major Themes of Diversity and Inclusion
Listening to stories from the presenters and audience members, a number of key themes emerged from our Diversity and Inclusion Forums.
Organisations must understand and work with differences.
Diverse thinking and different perspectives are needed if organisations are to solve complex problems of the future. Establishing common ground is a key factor in this process – once achieved, lateral connections can be improved exponentially. We can build our understanding of and better adopt diversity by using different lenses and tools, such as TMS.
A focus on the individual is essential.
Every individual needs to feel included and valued, which means acknowledging the whole person and all that they bring.
A top-down approach is needed if these initiatives are to succeed.
Senior leaders should personify diversity. This means doing more than just endorsing a policy: all levels of the organisation need to be involved, with passionate advocates devising and implementing the plans across the wider organisation.
Raised self-awareness is central to addressing unconscious bias.
Organisations develop a plethora of initiatives to improve performance, all of which require dedication and resources. Nevertheless, self-awareness and emotional intelligence training is critical to helping people understand each other and communicate more effectively. A key insight is that leaders’ competencies need to be developed to create greater self-awareness, so that conflict can be addressed productively. The TMP has already been used to reduce the risks associated with unconscious bias.
Notions like intersectionality also need to be considered.
When we look at multiple elements of diversity in combination – e.g. ethnicity, gender and age – we need to be mindful of the compounding impact on an individual’s experience and identity. Our programmes work best when we consider how complicated attitudes towards diversity can affect all areas of an employee’s life.
D&I programmes need to foster compassion in corporate life.
We have to think about the human effects beyond policy and initiative, by encouraging a culture of compassion to develop within organisations. There is no place in any corporate culture for ignorance or discrimination. At the same time, we need to be sensitive to lifestyle factors and how can they impact on some of our more significant initiatives.
D&I initiatives cannot be tokenistic and must deliver a performance gain
Inclusion programmes should work at the grass-roots level and be designed to genuinely empower people. Skills training or hosting effective meetings can encourage people to call out non-inclusive language and behaviour, which helps to create safe, supportive workspaces.
Impressive returns have been recorded by organisations with diverse leadership and, without assuming causality, we have to ask, ‘why wouldn’t you foster diversity?’ It’s possible to see a change in the bottom line when people are hired who look, think and make decisions like your customer base.
Diversity and Inclusion – Moving Forwards
This topic clearly resonates strongly with the TMS Network, and we are looking forward to continuing the discussion. If you have questions or if you would like to know more, please get in touch.
If you attended our forums, we would love to hear any reflections you have had, or actions you have taken since the events. For those of you who were unable to join us, we would love to hear your diversity and inclusion stories. Use the hastags #TMSForum2019 #DiversityInclusionPerformance