A Better Way To Be Inclusive In Business
Consider the employees and/or volunteers in your organization, or those with whom you work. How do they view each other? Do they work well together? Does the culture and reward and recognition programs encourage them to be inclusive – or competitive?
If a company claims to be inclusive, what do most people think it means?
Many organizations that claim to be inclusive limit the power of this value. They treat it more like the popular view of diversity, which is simply saying they do not discriminate on race, ethnicity, gender, religious beliefs, or disability in their hiring practice. Some companies broaden this value to include respect for diverse thought, skills, knowledge, and background.
But few look at inclusiveness from the perspective of having a diverse team that fosters collaboration and engages in finding solutions to meaningful problems. This is where the real power of inclusiveness can be transformational.
The Power of DiSC
I was being trained in the use of the DiSC profile, a personal assessment tool used to improve work productivity, teamwork and communication. The DiSC model provides a common language that people can use to better understand themselves and adapt their behaviors when working with others.
Consider the four major components of DiSC:
- Dominance: places emphasis on accomplishing results, the bottom line, confidence
- Influence: places emphasis on influencing or persuading others, openness, relationships
- Steadiness: places emphasis on cooperation, sincerity, dependability
- Conscientiousness: places emphasis on quality and accuracy, expertise, competency
Not surprisingly, each of us has a portion of all four components. But our natural behavior is to lean more in one of these four areas, and sometimes in two or in rare cases even three areas.
So here’s the rub: if you want to just socialize and have fun, then connect with other’s who share the same DiSC behavior as yourself. But if you want to create an effective team, then it’s best to draw people together with strengths in different DiSC behaviors.
This was an important lesson for me:
To create an effective team, bring together people with different DiSC profiles.
For example, consider the power of a team that includes the following individuals:
- (D) Someone with strong confidence that is focused on delivering results.
- (I) Someone gifted in building relationships and persuading others in a specific direction.
- (S) Someone who values systems and processes and can engage others to follow them.
- (C) Someone who is detailed-oriented and focused on delivering quality.
If these four individuals can work well together, imagine their effectiveness and the overall impact they could make together?
This is where the value of inclusiveness can make a significant difference.
Understanding HOW to empower and engage different dominant behaviors is like finding the key that opens a treasure chest. And some companies claim to have found it.
- Allstate – Inclusive Diversity
- Cardinal Health – We are inclusive and work together with confidence and trust.
- Coca-Cola – defines its value of Diversity, “As inclusive as our brands.”
- L Brands – Inclusion Makes Us Stronger
- Marathon Petroleum – Inclusive Culture
- Mondel?z International – Open and Inclusive
- Target – Celebrating diversity & inclusion
To dig a little deeper into this value, let’s look at how one specific company defines it.
Assessment of Inclusion at L Brands
L Brands (formerly The Limited) is the parent company that manages a powerhouse of retail brands, including Victoria Secret and Bath & Body Works. At L Brands, they define their value Inclusion Makes Us Stronger as follows:
The brands. The supermodels. The fashion shows. They all speak for themselves. But, behind the glitz and the glamour is a team of dedicated associates from a variety of backgrounds that bring a diverse set of skills, talent and abilities together to ensure that the products we make and customer service we provide fulfill customer expectations. At L Brands, our commitment to creating a diverse organization and an inclusive culture permeates everything we do.
By encouraging a workplace environment where diversity and inclusion are valued, we believe we can attain highly talented associates, suppliers and vendors of different backgrounds and experiences. We also believe that our efforts will reach beyond the walls of our organization and into the communities where we live and work.
Take note of a few important elements here:
- Inclusion is linked to diversity. Personally, I think the value of inclusion can stand on its own.
- The company’s focus is on bringing people together with different skills, talent and abilities. This is good. Based on this definition, it doesn’t appear the leaders are trying to just satisfy quotas on race, ethnicity, gender, religious beliefs, and/or disability requirements.
- The leaders include suppliers and vendors (and even the community) under this value. This shows how this value can be extended beyond internal teams, making it a powerful brand-builder.
Most importantly, there are NO references to the type of models they employ. There are NO requirements that they must hire models to satisfy all race, ethnicity, gender, religious beliefs, and/or disability requirements.
One look at the ads of Victoria Secret and it’s clear that the supermodels represent the brand – sexy, thin, beautiful women. They are marketing a unified look, a deep emotion, and an influential story.
Yet, behind such powerful brands is a large group of individuals representing a wide array of talent, personalities, experience, and ideas. And it’s the value of Inclusiveness that enables them to work well together.
This is how big powerful brands are built.
Bottom line: Inclusiveness is not about meeting diversity requirements. It’s about creating a positive environment for a group of people with a diverse set of skills AND behavioral styles to contribute their best self towards the fulfillment of a common goal. When working well, this creates a strong competitive advantage.
How else would your recommend companies leverage inclusiveness as a differentiating value?