Creating buy-in with a business-based approach to culture

How to take D&I out of the HR and CSR niche and generate business benefits and more equity at the same time? A by-invitaion-only webinar discusses some of the most prominent myths in D&I and show how radically different approaches overcome prevailing resistance.

Differences can lead to great results – this is the narrative that D&I takes for granted. However, most people – including a large part of the main target group of D&I initiatives – can provide examples of how this does not happen. Instead, differences can also lead to disruption, conflict and even wars. These kinds of provocative thoughts are ususally included when Michael Stuber, The European D&I Engineer, runs one of his educational and entertaining learning sessions. It was also the case in October 2020 when some 30 D&I practitioners from international companies had signed up for a by-invitation-only webinar hosted by a UK-based HR services firm.

Starting from the Why and the What

Michael based the first part of his talk on the unique value-chain model for D&I (aka The Propelling Performance Principle) which illustrates the relevance of corporate culture and underrated forms of Unconscious Biases related to the positioning of D&I in a workplace and business context. He showed how large Corporations can set up a Global framework for D&I which may also be subsequently tailored to regional (e.g. European) or industry specifics. His overview of the large body of evidence for the business case for D&I – beyond simplistic annual surveys – concluded the first part and led to the question, what was missing in the wide-spread D&I strategies of companies that ‘are doing a lot’ but do not see the progress nor the benefits they expect from their efforts. Based on intriguing insight, Michael made three key points in this regard:

  • Most D&I frameworks are too generic or general and therefore do not convey the relevance and the urgency needed to create the burning platform that leads to traction
  • Most Unconscious Bias schemes are too focused on awareness and on few forms of bias, and they therefore do not cover the holistic nature of relevant biases and neither get to the specific mitigation
  • Most D&I implementation strategies are too selective so that they neither include the symbolic and systemic activities nor do they address the different levers required to generate change.

How to D&I? Myths & best intentions revisited

In the next part of the session, the audience could choose which topics Michael would cover in greater depth. Out of six wide-spread beliefs, the D&I experts selected a deep-dive into D&I learning and training. The ongoing interest in this topic was fueled by the seeming discrepancy of Unconscious Bias training being celebrated as the silver bullet while at the same time studies claimed that traing did not work (at all). Michael put both aspects into perspective and offered a comprehensive ‘development solution’ that was also considered inspiring by the audience.

In the next section, he offered a choice of five well-intended (and wide-spread!) D&I approaches which he would show should actually be taken to the next level. The audience selected ‘search for truly different profiles’ as the approach to be discussed. Michael described the different dynamics of meritocracy, cultureal fit and deliberate diversification in order to show the overlap of the three and how they can be integrated into a win-win-win approach.

Companies can book tailored webinars as in-house inspirations for their leadership, D&I, HR or other communities. Please contact the European Diversity team at office@diversity-consulting.eu