I know exactly what I want to share with you this week but, as I sit here trying to write, I am really struggling to get my “head in the game” and my keyboard going. What is happening to thousands of Ukrainians – and the Russian forces’ families – weighs so heavily on my heart. Not to mention the Saudi bombing of Yemen, Israel’s new attack on Syria or the US bombing of Somalia, which should be mentioned and receiving media attention! We live in such a broken world, with too many low EQ bully power-hungry leaders. So, more than ever, we need to take the Key Steps I had in mind for us this week. The timing couldn’t be more apt, in fact. Action couldn’t be more needed. We might not be able to do anything to directly stop the Russian invasion, but we can sweep our own doorstep and take Goethe’s advice when he said, “If every man would sweep his own doorstep, the whole world would be clean.”
The sweeping clean I am talking about is continually becoming more and more aware of our unconscious bias and actively working to truly be more inclusive and holistic in the way we work, the way we love, the way we live and the way we lead. As we head into March – with 8 March being International Women’s Day – we have the opportunity to deeply reflect on what it means to #breakthebias, practise inclusion and take Key Steps together to really…
‘be the difference that makes the difference.’
What Key Steps can we take?
- Understand what inclusion really is. I hear lots of confusion about inclusion. Many people think that aiming to employ 9% more women in leadership roles by [enter corporate goal, e.g. 2030], means they are being inclusive. Eeehh, no! This is how you reach an equity quota – and I am pleased it is being enforced – but not how you practise inclusivity. A nice metaphor for understanding the difference is that while diversity is inviting different genders, races, religions, etc. to the party, inclusion means asking them to dance, choose the venue, music, food and so on. We are currently seeing many women – skilled, talented and an asset to the organisations they work for – leaving employ because while they’ve been invited, the microaggressions that they faced two years ago haven’t lessened and they are no more included. To illustrate this point, Pixar’s Purls clip is worth watching.
- Realise that practising diversity and inclusion pays. A study reported by BCG showed that increasing diversity has a direct effect on the bottom line. A big one! A whopping 19% higher revenue due to innovation. This finding is huge for tech companies, start-ups and industries where innovation is the key to growth. It shows that diversity is not just a metric to be strived for, it is actually an integral part of a successful revenue generating business. This makes sense because diversity means diversity of minds, ideas, approaches and, ultimately, solutions.
- Find out what doesn’t work. For decades, organisations have been investing in diversity and inclusion training programmes, which have largely been an epic failure. Taking a top-down approach does not work, most typical training interventions do not work and many mentoring programmes do not work. So, you are probably asking what does work and can we actually #breakthebias? It’s a good question and the answer has seemed pretty dismal but there’s some good news… We can #breakthebias and we are happy to work with you to…
- Implement what does work. Leading research shows that if you are going to spend money on training, let it be on developing the emotional intelligence of your leaders. High EQ leadership is how we can #beatthebias. There are also many other interesting strategies like reverse mentoring (which a low EQ leader is unlikely to be interested in) that are showing a significant positive impact. In part, just because of the mere exposure to someone who is diverse and who thinks so differently to you. Allyship is another simple yet powerful principle that can help you create a more inclusive workplace in which women can thrive.
To learn more about what works and how you can take Key Steps to make a difference, click here to view the talks we are offering this week: 2 March and 3 March @15:30 CAT.
Book now and let’s…
‘be the difference that makes the difference.’
NOTE: The information in my blog may be freely shared and re-used in any online or offline publication, provided it is accompanied by the following credit line: This was written by Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, and originally appeared in her free weekly ‘Key Steps Food for Thought Blog’ available on the Key Steps website.
About Dr Sharon King Gabrielides
Sharon is a dynamic facilitator, speaker and executive coach with over 20 years’ experience in leadership and organisational development and transformation. She is a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner. She is also one of only three women in South Africa to hold the title of Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – it’s the Oscar of the speaking business.
Sharon’s PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that has been published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of Henley Business School and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. Sharon has become known for her practical approach, useful tools and genuinely caring manner. She is really looking forward to working with you and taking Key Steps to ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’