Blog by Laura Swiszczowski- Researcher, Opportunity Now
“We need more inclusive leadership – it’s important to understand how people work and what motivates them. Managing a diverse group of people is challenging but there are ways to equip managers through training and involvement in discussion groups.”
Inga Beale, CEO, Lloyds of London
This quote gets to the crux of an essential finding from Project 28-40 – that policy is not translating into practice and managers are vital in getting the best out an of organisation’s employees. This is what inclusive leadership is all about - getting the best out of all their people, helping organisations to succeed in today’s complex, diverse national and global environment.
What the findings of Project 28-40 showed us is that workplaces are not working for women. Whilst there was a perceptions gap identified between men and women perceptions of opportunities for career development, there was also a clear gap between organisational policies and the reality of the workplace as experienced by women. A stark example of this is the fact that 52% of female respondents said they experienced some form of bullying and harassment in the last three years, and 12% said they had experienced sexual harassment in the same time frame. These figures jump up for women with disabilities (71%) and Black women (69%).
It’s a challenging area definitely, it’s important to have a very open culture where these things can be discussed and addressed. But this is difficult when you have a very large organisation, as a leader or CEO you can’t be everywhere all the time. You have to rely on your line managers in a large organisation to ensure this is not going on and that you have an open culture which encourages reporting.
“ It’s a challenging area definitely, it’s important to have a very open culture where these things can be discussed and addressed. But this is difficult when you have a very large organisation, as a leader or CEO you can’t be everywhere all the time. You have to rely on your line managers in a large organisation to ensure this is not going on and that you have an open culture which encourages reporting. ”
Thus the importance of inclusive leaders and managers who speak up against discriminatory or inappropriate behaviour and language within their teams and in the work environment, cannot be underestimated. But it’s not just about protecting staff from negative behaviours, through Project 28-40 we learnt women want their line managers to actively seek opportunities to develop their teams.
Women respondents also wanted to see more support for their line managers in how to manage teams with diverse needs and aspirations. This is what the Inclusive Leadership Excellence Club aims to do, by working with 5 organisations to equip and enable their leaders to manage across difference. Opportunity Now and Shapiro Consulting’s research on Inclusive leadership in 2011 found that despite the positive impact inclusive leadership capabilities have on employee performance, engagement and the ability of organisations to build a diverse talent pipeline, they remain rare in UK organisations today.
We have developed a tool for ensuring effective recruitment for Opportunity Now members and for the promotion and assessment of managers within your organisation to ensure they motivate and develop their team to the best of their abilities. Business needs to support its managers as the lynchpin narrowing the gap between policy and reality, ensuring all of their employees have access to the same opportunities and career development.
Opportunity Now members can log in and view the resource kit: Developing and Engaging Leaders.