CRS had already introduced a number of policies to support gender balance, such as agile and flexible working, paternity leave, women’s networks and forums. However, like many organisations they were not seeing a positive shift towards more women at the top. As a result they wanted to understand what was underneath this, and then adopt solutions addressing these hidden barriers. With full support from the firm’s senior management, the work was led by a core committee, and chaired by David Green, a senior partner, driven by his passion to create the foundations of lasting gender parity.
In partnership with the core committee, we developed and implemented a 3-phase approach.
Phase 1 – Identifying insight and designing recommendations
WDI facilitated one-to-one and small group discussions with a representative sample of women in the firm. Contrary to previous experience, the women were extremely open, sharing very personal stories that got under the skin of what would make a difference to creating a culture where gender balance would be achieved in the short and long term.
Phase 2 – Increasing trust, transparency and understanding
WDI created a number of different forums in which senior leaders could hear, and connect with the women’s experiences. Each of these was carefully designed to promote openness, and trust whilst recognising the sensitive, personal nature of the information and appropriately managing confidentiality. Responses included; “I feel heard”, “It was a revelation.”
Phase 3 – Developing a comprehensive plan
WDI took the women’s recommendations, suggestions from sessions with senior leaders, and combined them with our own expertise in creating inclusive cultures, to help CRS develop a comprehensive change plan. This combined practical steps to bring about mindset and behaviour change along with refreshing processes and development activities. This combination set CRS up to achieve an inclusive culture change where diversity is valued as an integral part of their norms and working practices.
Throughout – Building momentum
In each phase, WDI facilitated open and honest dialogue that promoted understanding and empathy. Specifically, we wove the ‘what’ and facts of the situation together with stories and courageous conversations of ‘why’ change is important. This led to women and men adapting their attitudes and behaviour, creating a momentum for positive engagement and change.
“I’m moved by hearing others experiences and now feel even more invested in creating change.”