Our client had introduced an enterprise-wide goal to have women in 30% of senior leadership positions by 2020. In response, the most senior woman in their fastest growing division established a team revamping key policies and processes. However, they quickly recognised achieving the goal required a comprehensive strategy that addressed the root causes of gender inequality.
Our client wanted to both retain the strong culture that has fuelled huge growth and success, and adapt it to enable women’s progression. They needed data, facts and new insights about women and men’s everyday experiences, to identify the specific behavioural norms and working practices helping and inhibiting the advancement of women.
The leadership team, whilst committed to the goal, tended to talk about it in terms of commercial benefits, rather than sharing why it matters to them and their people. They were also very aware of a number of dilemmas that made it more difficult to act, e.g. could the recent silicon valley backlash from men, be an unintended consequence of a strong D&I approach?
From WDI’s experience, our approach needed to address three critical success factors if the client was to achieve and sustain gender equality. These became the core elements to the work.
The leadership team immediately began communicating more about equality and in different ways, creating stronger personal connections with their people. They became more aware of the consequences of being in the ‘spotlight’, and stronger in their leadership mandate.
After hearing from its people, the division fundamentally changed how it defined the problem, and its solutions. The work began as achieving a ‘numerical goal through process changes’. It is now about creating a ‘vision of a diverse and inclusive culture enabled by a mindset and behaviour change and owned by a diverse and passionate group of influential people.’
By engaging the leadership team, and over 100 of its people, the inclusion vision and strategy is now owned and being executed by senior leadership and a global network of Inclusion Champions, all actively shaping the roll-out and making it happen everyday.