Elliott Scott HR UK recently ran a webinar in partnership with Sasha Scott, Founder at Inclusive Group exploring ‘Embedding Inclusion: A deeper dive into intergen mindsets and cognitive diversity’. The session started with a big focus on community and the importance of this now, more so than ever.
During this webinar we looked at Inclusion from 3 aspects:
Intergenerational mindsets and generational tensions
Cognitive diversity: what is it, what does it look like and the blockers
How do we navigate in the current Covid 19 environment and virtual teams
There are different generational tensions that exist in today’s workplace and we need to recognise the drivers of those and how to address them.
If we focus on 4 key generations: Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y (Millennials) and Gen Z. It’s important we notice what different generations are concerned about: Managers, Leaders and Exco need to think about the language they use to talk about people who are different from themselves and translate that into the workplace of 2020. There are a lot of misunderstandings and we need to look at our language and remove the fear about saying the wrong thing. One of the central themes is how we are communicating, what words are we using to create a respectful environment where we feel safe to ask questions.
The companies that are doing this well are those that are looking at reverse mentoring and have created shadow boards which is a group of age-diverse employees, regardless of level, that mirrors the traditional board of directors. They have intergenerational teams where there is a level of safety where people can ask questions.
In our last seminar we talked about key themes for 2020 and how the workplace experience is a key trend for Generation Z, they are focused on experiences rather than possessions. They are very negative about labelling and believe in a dialogue to resolve conflicts, which is a very different mind-set to the millennials. How does this all play out in terms of communication? From an organisational perspective we need to think about how we harness technology to create more inclusive communication and with the backdrop we are in now we are all relying on technology as a form of communication and forced into a mind-set around more open communication and more cross-generational mentoring.
It is important to recognise we all have a strong affinity bias but in today’s environment we have to evolve into more mixed generational teams and we have to think about how our affinities are going to play out (we all have 150 biases on the go at any one time!)
What people want is to be asked more questions and to be authentically listened to. There is more responsibility and accountability on employers to check in on employees through pulse surveys and chat rooms. Communication is the key on all of this and we need to get better at it!
The discussion continued across broader Inclusion and Diversity and the importance for organisations to prioritise inclusion over diversity. Sasha shared a slide on the Inclusion Imperative from Deloitte Consulting in which organisations with an inclusive culture are:
2x as likely to meet or exceed financial targets
3x as likely to be high performing
6x more likely to agile and innovative
8x more likely to achieve better business outcomes
All very compelling!
Businesses need to understand the difference between Inclusion and Diversity. Diversity is about our demography and who we are. Inclusion is very different and is how we do or don’t behave and we all have to consider what micro behaviours we can adopt to drive Inclusion. Thinking about the language we use and treating people as individuals and un-stereotyping.
Cognitive diversity refers to how we can optimise diversity of thought so your company can benefit from different ideas and thoughts. Sasha shared the Diversity Dividend from Deloitte Insights and how different ideas lead to more innovation and lower risk. But if you go too extreme on diversity you don’t get any consensus so it’s about balance and really considering to what extent do we listen. We need to create cultures of psychological safety - meaning being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences. Employees need to have a voice and be heard, this creates a sense of belonging in an authentic way.
The current climate and the impact of COVID 19
At the moment there is a level of fear across the globe and how we will operate in this environment is still developing, but we must evolve our behaviours and they have to change immediately. Isolation has created a huge challenge on inclusion but we are also seeing how much of a community is being created through social media and using technology to reach people.
We need to encourage people to have a virtual mind-set and to use technology to strengthen our relationships and drive inclusion deeper.
In the short term we need to be tech savvy and help each other. And it is the responsibility of leaders to set the new norm. We need to consider working patterns i.e do you work well in the morning or evening and not just getting everyone to adopt to the way you work. Ask people how they would like to be treated and how they want to work. Trust is essential.
Everything we’ve talked about in this session relates to differences: different generations, different perspectives and different ways of thinking and how it can all be bound together in this new environment through virtual technology, through honesty and through community to move forward.
Looking after your mental health is essential at this time and it’s important to take work breaks, get fresh air or learn a new skill, whatever will help you retain a positive mind-set.
Our virtual HR Community is more important than ever and we are available to talk to anyone in more detail on this session or to just have a general chat and check in. Reach out to me at email@example.com or on LinkedIn
Kirstin and the rest of the Elliott Scott HR team