Diverse teams are higher performing and more innovative ©123RF
Diverse teams are higher performing and more innovative ©123RF

Leaders told to focus on inclusion

Separate inclusion from diversity, and other tips for getting started

A group of procurement leaders gathered at executive search firm Korn Ferry’s London office for an exclusive event, co-hosted by CIPS, on diversity and inclusion (D&I). 

“Procurement needs the best talent for tomorrow,” said CIPS group CEO Malcolm Harrison. “Increasingly we see talented people choosing their employer in part based on the employer’s environment meeting their beliefs in terms of embracing diversity. If the environment does not fit, they will choose to work elsewhere.”

Bernhard Raschke, senior client partner at Korn Ferry, added that the business case for diversity was “a no brainer”. “The [procurement] function will not grow unless this topic is addressed,” he said.

What leaders need to focus on as much as – if not more than – diversity, is inclusion, said Joseph Calleja, Korn Ferry’s vice president of assessment services. “If diversity is the reality, inclusive leadership is the behaviour that will allow the whole to become bigger than the sum of its parts,” he said.

Inclusion is so critical, he added, because diversity alone can be challenging. Diverse teams only have an edge over homogeneous ones if they are well managed and led. “It’s trickier to really go for building diverse teams and an inclusive environment because it takes time,” he said. 

Diversity often causes conflict, so leaders need to be comfortable championing differences that might initially lead to discord in the team. “Inclusive leaders need to be open and aware, actively promote difference, manage conflict, influence effectively, and build a trusting and open culture,” Calleja advised.

Angela Peacock of D&I consultancy PDT Global told attendees “traditional diversity training doesn’t work”. “The truth about diversity is that it’s difficult for all of us, because we are being hijacked constantly by our unconscious bias,” she added. 

Instead of rolling out diversity training courses, she advised leaders to focus on changing their organisational cultures, offering these tips: 

• Separate inclusion from diversity. “Define inclusion in a way people understand and take the power group [usually older white men] with you. Inclusion means an environment where everyone with the capability to excel can do so. Put clear blue water between diversity and inclusion.”

• Know and record your business case. “Tell people what difference this will make to their part of the business.”

• Measure activity and action. “That forces managers to talk about inclusion and bias. Ask them to have four conversations a year and log their actions. That becomes a powerful culture change tool.” 

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