Stephen Frost | Building an Inclusive Organisation

Avatar Disruptive HQ | 10/09/2018

We were joined in the studio by Stephen Frost, author of Building an Inclusive Organisation. Stephen is a globally recognised diversity, inclusion and leadership expert, and founded Frost Included in 2012.

He teaches Inclusive Leadership at Harvard Business School, Singapore Management University and Sciences Po in France. He serves as an Advisor to the British Government, and KPMG’s Diversity and Inclusion Programme.
Stephen is author of The Inclusion Imperative: How Real Inclusion Creates Better Business and Builds Better Societies (Kogan Page, 2014), Inclusive Talent Management: How Business Can Thrive in an Age of Diversity (Kogan Page, 2016) and Building an Inclusive Organisation: Leveraging the Power of Your Diverse Workforce (Kogan Page, forthcoming 2019).

Stephen joined us to talk about his new book: Building an Inclusive Organisation


Hello, my name is Steven Frost and I write, teach, and consult on diversity and inclusion and we’re going to discuss how to build an inclusive organisation and I’m going to suggest we proceed in 5 Steps, starting with strategy.

By strategy, I don’t just mean the strategy of the diversity and inclusion work. I mean the strategy of the overall organisation. What is it that the organisation is trying to do and how can diverse inclusion support that goal? Often organisations go wrong by focusing on diversity and inclusion as a segregated work stream or even worse a series of events. Segregated will never work only when it’s embedded in the actual overall purpose and mission of the organisation

will it truly add value. What we’re trying to do here is go beyond compliance and just satisfying the law. We trying to go beyond marketing and just building application. Important though those two things are, what we’re trying to do here is actually influence the decisions that are made by people fill out the organisation every day.

How can we embed inclusion in their thinking ultimately influence the overall output of the organisation. This strategy requires a plan once we’ve got that strategy, we’ve got that plan, we need to populate the plan. Now

another important distinction here is between diversity, which is really important and inclusion, which is how we include that diversity. Just measuring diversity alone is insufficient, yes representation is super important diversity of race gender and so forth, but it’s very easy to be diverse without being inclusive.

And the True Value from diversity comes when it’s included and leveraged. So yes do representation diversity measurement, then think about actually how we measure the inclusion within that organisation. And ultimately we want to come up with targets, targets of how we can increase inclusion in the organisation.

Once we’ve got our strategy in our plan data in our Target. We need to think about how we going to govern this whole process and hold people accountable.

There’s many things to think about here. For example, are you going to set up a separate diversity council in addition to the board and the executive team to monitor this work measure progress and hold people accountable. Are you going to leverage employee networks that exist. Are you going to build a team?

How are you going to communicate success to keep engagement happening and going throughout the organisation. Ultimately the governance process is you put in place are important to keep people accountable.

Once you’ve got these three foundational aspects in place. We can go on to the two key work streams that are going to really make a difference The first, his leadership.

Often people confuse management with leadership, management is technically essential but it’s operating within existing norms. Leadership is about pushing those norms to add value and make a difference. This is critically about behaviours, holding people accountable for their actions. Do as I do not just as I said, Many people think that they already are great diversity inclusion.

But if they honestly ask themselves about their closest friends, closest colleagues and so forth. They might realise they’re not as diverse and inclusive think they are. This is about holding them accountable for those behaviours because culture is about what we do not just what we say. The other critical work stream is systems and what I mean by systems, is all those often invisible parts of the machine behind the scenes that are critical to making the organisation work. Recruitment, talent management, marketing, procurement all of these systems.

There is bias. These processes are full of bias and they mapping them out. We can identify those areas of bias and D bias them to make them less biased more inclusive than higher performing in service of the overall strategy in the organisation. The systems work is essential because it’s about sustainability.

Once you have these five elements in place, strategy, the data, the governance, leadership and the system’s you’re well on your way to building an inclusive organisation. I’ll leave you with a final thought, to make this work, actually implement it you need to think about who your key stakeholders are. And where they’re at on this journey.

Let’s think about stakeholder number one. Maybe it’s the CEO. Let’s think about key stakeholder  number two. Maybe it’s the CFO and think about all the other people in the organisation perhaps with unofficial power and influence for important to making this work if you think about all those people because think about where they’re at.

Are they understanding do they get what we’re trying to do? Are they leading? Are they speaking out about this. And finally are they delivering are they actually creating diversity inclusion in their teams in the areas of control, acting as role models for others when you think about it like this we can map out where different stakeholders are at on the journey because ultimately we want to get everyone to understand, lead and deliver this work because that is how we build an inclusive organisation.

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