According to recent research from CEB (now Gartner), in order to create an inclusive climate for teams, organizations need to focus not only on climate quality (the average level of inclusion that employees feel) but also on climate strength (the variation between how different employees perceive the inclusivity of their team). In a session on building inclusive leaders at our ReimagineHR conference in London on Thursday, we heard from Tyra Malzy, Chief Learning Officer at Mazars, about her experience integrating inclusion into her company’s business practices and engaging its younger workforce in decision-making. Here are some of the strategies she shared:
Normalize Inclusion in Leadership
As Malzy explained, Mazars needed to reach out to its millennial employees and help senior leadership see the business value of including these employees in its decisions. To meet these goals, the company made several key choices.
- Start with saying “yes”: Mazars found that when leaders were concerned with the impact of change, they often responded in a risk-averse manner, usually resulting in saying “no” to ideas that deviated from the organization’s typical decision-making process. By making a habit of saying “yes” more often, this helped generate a more open environment for co-developing solutions.
- Crowdsource ideas from employees: An important component of making leadership more inclusive is empowering employees to lead from the ground up. Mazars created an app for individuals to share their ideas with others within the company, vote on those which they like the best, and then have the top five presented to senior leaders. Finally, the executive team picks which business ideas to implement. Mazars also surveyed employees to understand their thoughts on management preferences and organizational culture. They then used this information to create specific projects associated with the interests of the employees.
- Bring visibility to functions and individuals that are doing this well: By sharing examples of diverse groups that are outperforming other teams or functions, Mazars challenges teams with limited diversity to step up their diversity of thought and improve their outcomes.
Create a Culture of Inclusivity in Decision-Making
One of the ways Mazars does this is by creating opportunities for diverse groups of employees, specifically in terms of age diversity, to network outside the organization and bring insights back to the company. HR then presents these insights to their executives. This allows those not in leadership to have a voice in the organization’s decision-making process. The company now has a formal process for engaging employees across different levels of the organization in strategic planning through executive task forces.
Use Learning to Create an Inclusive Organizational Ecosystem
Mazars has leveraged several of its learning programs to increase inclusion throughout the organization:
- First, they created an “MBA” program with a cohort of other organizations that sends top employees, across all levels of the organization, to a six-week program where they study cutting-edge business topics with a group of international academics, in addition to networking with peers at different companies to expand their diversity of thought. By learning from other organizations’ culture and processes, Mazars expands their organizational ecosystem and thereby increases innovation.
- Second, through their startup accelerator Mazars Lab, the company interacts with entrepreneurs with diverse mindsets and skill sets to improve innovation. In Mazars Lab Exports, Mazars employees work with startups and incubate the startups to create new services that lead to greater creativity and innovation.
Our research at CEB (now Gartner) has studied the strategies the best companies are using to create inclusive leaders. CEB Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council members can explore our research in a replay of our recent webinar.