Inclusion as the HOW® for the Culture Journey

A major cleaning and food safety company asked us to develop ways of interacting that encourage all members of the organization to fully engage, empower them to pursue their personal development, and help the company achieve its full potential. As part of this effort, the company’s largest division committed itself to promoting a collaborative, performance-based work environment, in which the varied skills, talents, and experience of every associate were leveraged to better serve customers. After completing the initial phases of the process, including assessment, strategy, and awareness building, the division entered a year of accountability in which it looked for progress and signs of change.

During the first stages of the journey, an increasing number of senior leaders had Inclusion as the HOW metrics added to their performance objectives, and all field leaders completed inclusion awareness sessions. The new ways of interacting were built into new hire orientation, field leadership training, and leadership team meetings. This work had a significant impact on the organization’s litigation cases for discrimination, which had been as high as six per year but decreased to just one in 2009—even with 350 associates laid off during that period.

In addition, associates in this division noticed changes: the leadership team was encouraging greater collaboration, seeking input more often, and listening more. “It is very apparent that we have transitioned from a ‘telling’ culture to a collaborative culture,” one associate noted. Another also expressed excitement about the initiative, saying, “It’s refreshing to witness the open exchange of ideas, watch the management team embrace these ideas, and hear the opinion of all associates. This change is benefiting our company right now and will only make us stronger for years to come.”

The company continues to build on this momentum toward its “TO state”—the vision of the organization it wants to be in the future.