Speaking recently to a Senior Executive in a specialist UK-based manufacturing company, I was intrigued to learn how working conditions and cultures have shifted through the decades. As someone who sits in the gap between Gen-X and Millennials, it was fascinating to spend time listening to someone born between the Baby-boomer generation and Gen-X. This individual had served in the same company for forty-five years, a length that is less familiar to someone of my generation and bordering on offensive to Gen-Y and Alpha!
I was struck by hearing just how much things have changed. Forty years ago, it seemed most people entered into professions that their parents had worked in, and it was common to stay in that industry (and often in the same company) for the remainder of their careers. Loyalty was rewarded and there were particular industries that only tended to hire a certain person. Interestingly, this approach to recruiting was not frowned upon at the time, it was just what it was.
In today’s world, upward mobility coupled with growing equal opportunity legislation means that very little work is off-limits to anyone. Indeed, some companies intentionally recruit from a wide range of demographics in order to meet self-imposed and sometimes externally supported employment quotas.
The environment in which individuals work today could not look more different than it did a generation or two ago. A significant cultural shift has taken place.
There has been no escaping the recent Covid-19 pandemic, that entered our lives in 2020. The significant pressures it has placed on the resolve and requirements of leaders across the world is well documented. Almost overnight, many companies had to pivot and reinvent themselves. The shift to home working or a flexible hybrid-working was not on people’s radars two years ago but now, these patterns of working have become the norm. Yet whilst Covid has dominated the headlines, leaders have also been wrestling with other significant challenges such as employee wellbeing, flexible working hours and diversity and inclusion.
Focussing for a moment on diversity and inclusion, a report by McKinsey and Company published in 2021 suggests a variety of responses towards Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) existed. On one hand, there were those who firmly believed D&I was something that simply could not be ignored or placed on the back burner. On the other hand, people saw it as more of a luxury or a nice-to-have. Since their research on D&I began in 2014 the latter group has shrunk considerably, most notably since the hit of the 2020 global pandemic, which marks a significant cultural shift.
McKinsey’s report also highlights that D&I issues are not just philosophical requirements. They present a compelling business case for building diverse leadership teams, as a necessary foundation for organisational success.
Whether you are in an organisation that is leading the way in D&I or in one that is more of a reluctant late-adopter, there seems to be no escaping the reality that D&I is here to stay – and with good reason. How do we respond, adapt and reposition ourselves?
The easiest approach would be to draft D&I documents, ensure these are read and signed as part of the onboarding of new employees, appoint a D&I officer and perhaps run an organisational awareness day every year or so.
Whilst the above examples present some easy wins, this approach does not really end up winning at all. This type of approach leaves employees feeling frustrated, undervalued and unheard and runs the risk of exposing employers lack of awareness.
There is a reason for the growing need for D&I in the workplace and if this reason is understood, this then becomes the driver for lasting systemic change. D&I ought to matter to us because people ought to matter to us. Employees are not numbers on a spreadsheet or a means of generating profit. Employees are people who each bring a wonderful uniqueness both to the work they do and to the way they do it. So much more can be achieved together when diversity is embraced.
Whilst diversity is a broad term and can mean a raft of different things in different contexts, at C-me we primarily use it to describe the range of behaviours that people exhibit in the workplace, in other words how someone shows up if you like.
Psychometric Profiling is widespread and can be a great tool for better understanding yourself and other people. At C-me, we focus on behaviour rather than personality, as it is the former that is most easily adjusted and has the most direct impact on others.
It might be common for an organisation to have a D&I policy, as well as independently using a psychometric profile from time to time to develop their leaders' awareness or better engage their employees. Having both is very wise, but have you ever considered how one can support the other?
C-me’s behavioural profiling helps individuals to grow in self-awareness and improve interaction with other people. Our system is incredibly simple, with a major focus on application. Comparing one person’s profile to another (or indeed comparison across a whole team) is made easy with clear and accessible visuals and the creation of a ‘common language’.
For organisations thinking carefully about inclusion and diversity in terms of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, equal opportunity etc, C-me Colour Profiling is a great option.C-me:
C-me’s profiling can also add an additional strand to the ways organisations think about diversity: behavioural diversity (different ways of working and relating). When supported by clear values and accountability, this behavioural diversity is likely to stimulate innovation and creativity which is a core component to high performing teams.
C-me uses a blended colour wheel to illustrate the diversity of behaviours.
Just as colours blend, so do behaviours. They blend through both an individual's contrasting and complementary behaviours within themselves, as well as the contrasting and complementary behaviours between different individuals.
Plotting these behavioural differences in relationship to one another on our team wheel then produces a highly effective tool for team development, conflict mitigation and more general thought diversity.
The heartbeat of C-me is a desire to foster a felt sense of belonging and an appreciation of difference. This helps people fully express themselves and contribute at their very best. C-me is a great tool to strengthen accountability, uphold transparency and positively reinforce agreed values.
Yes, the easy win is doing the bare minimum to give the impression, as an organisation, that D&I matters. Yet in a world that is challenging enough on so many fronts, positively embracing D&I is one of the best ways to truly value a workforce, i.e. an organisation's most valuable asset. This ought to be an end in itself, but wonderfully, the positive repercussions have a far wider reach.
What is holding you and your organisation back from becoming a global leader in adopting a robust and truly heartfelt commitment to being inclusive and championing diversity? This is what the world needs.
This article began by recalling working cultures from forty years ago. Fast forward to 2022, where work and home life are becoming increasingly inseparable. Work is no longer seen by many to be a necessary evil, something to be endured Monday to Friday to provide the freedom enjoyed at a weekend. Instead, workers in 2022 want to enjoy their work, feel valued and experience greater continuity between home and work life, often with friendship groups spanning both environments.
Taking D&I seriously, and perhaps partnering with C-me to help you do this, may well be the best next step you take in 2022. We’d love to support you on this journey, book a demo to find out more.
Mark Herbert, Sales Consultant and Head of Delivery, C-me Colour Profiling