elephant in the boardroom

Addressing The Elephant In The (Board) Room

According to McKinsey, the business case for diversity in corporate leadership is clear.

And they’re not alone, with research showing that companies that nurture diverse thinking are now more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on profitability.

“Our 2019 analysis finds that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile—up from 21% in 2017 and 15% in 2014”.

Source: McKinsey, Diversity wins: How inclusion matters.

With a focus on building innovation capability and people-based innovation, Tess Julian has been studying the research and links between diversity and innovation for many years. We’ve found that ‘diverse thinking’ – having a wide range of people from different genders, backgrounds, beliefs etc. – enables organisations to embrace the wide range of experience, viewpoints, and ideas critical to innovation.

Diversity enhances creativity, innovation mindset, decision-making and problem-solving.

Right now, Covid has transformed the way we work and live, and in the process, has broken down many existing structures. We are in a moment where real change is possible – we have the chance to rebuild systems and practices to create workplaces where individuals, teams and organisations can thrive.

The elephant in the room

While we are all responsible for inclusion, a top-down approach benefits both the corporate culture and the bottom line. However, even in 2020, the evidence shows that the boardroom is a traditionally male-dominated area. And for both male and female leaders, raising the topic of diversity involves a delicate balance that can at times be misinterpreted.

“Companies are most successful when they embrace diversity in gender, race, perspective and personalities. Businesses that go from an all-male or all-female leadership team to an even mix of gender could see an increase in revenue of around 41%, according to a study co-authored by an MIT researcher. Having a healthy mix of leaders has been proven to lead to more creative ideas, more efficient problem-solving and better financial achievements.”

Source: Forbes, The Meaning Of Leadership Is Evolving

While many organisations have HR and diversity processes in place:

  • Organisations are still developing their collective innovation mindsets through which they can embrace change and real inclusion.
  • Women themselves often lack the confidence or skills to speak up or put themselves forward.
  • Successful senior-level women have a vast and meaningful impact on a company’s culture, which if nurtured is a win-win.

How can individuals lead change and create opportunities and pathways for themselves and others?

Build innovation and change

Our experience confirms that innovation can come from unexpected places—from your day-to-day work, from a routine project or an informal chat. Because it is not confined to specialist “innovation” projects, any number of tools and techniques might work. It’s not the tools you use; it’s how you use them, i.e., your Innovation Mindset.

Our definition of being innovative is “helping innovation happen”. Use an innovation mindset framework to explore your own experience and discover your mindset strengths and areas for improvement.

Build inclusive and diverse teams

Thriving teams drive change, but how do you build a thriving team? The secret is collaborative people. More collaborative people build better collaborative teams. And better collaborative teams deliver complex outcomes.

Healthy collaboration starts with high levels of individual confidence and connectedness. Learn how to assess your confidence and connectedness for healthy collaboration at work and uncover and address the barriers to team collaboration.

Strategies for overcoming barriers to career progression

Studies show that diverse organisations are both more innovative and profitable, with above-average revenue. In a time when the need for businesses to prioritise growth has never been more critical, diversity can be the differentiator that sets them apart.

The Diversity & Inclusion Deep-Dive Canvas includes questions designed to help individuals examine structural barriers to diversity and inclusion.

To confidently create change in the workplace and individual careers, we need to learn how to apply strategies to build confidence and visibility, advocate for change at work, and explore options to implement personal change.

Women@Work

Introducing Women@Work, a highly interactive, evidence-based program where participants explore the latest research, their own experience and the stories of others to understand how to lead changes in their career and workplace.

Why have we focussed on ‘women’?

Diversity is a challenging topic. However, it’s also intrinsically linked to innovation, culture and growth, and a focus on gender diversity aligns with Tess’s research and Hargraves’ expertise with innovation mindset as a process for leading change.

Co-created by women for women, with both online and face-to-face (in-house delivery), this program is designed for:

  • Women who want to progress their careers and build confidence and visibility at work.
  • Women who want to effect change in the workplace and bring others along with them.
  • Organisations who want to lead change and build a culture of innovation and inclusion.

This program is about fixing the systems, not fixing women.

Women@Work December 2020

Details & Registration for W@W online

Elephant credit: Vineet Nangia on Unsplash

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