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Inclusion as the HOW® for Competitive Advantage

A large financial firm sought to increase its market share by establishing a new environment in the workplace. We were retained to build momentum toward that new environment through Inclusion as the HOW.

Our comprehensive data collection and analysis helped the senior leader and senior team discover the necessary strategic direction for transforming their workplace. To create a critical mass for change, we formed a group of advocates who completed six months of intensive education in communicating and partnering across differences. The group was comprised mostly of middle managers who were identified as influential leaders in the organization.

In the process of developing a business imperative for high performance, the organization realized it had a key area of limited competence: its customer service representatives could not communicate with their changing customer base due to the multiplicity of languages and cultures represented among customers. To address this, the organization retrained its workforce for better response to customer needs while shifting its profile of necessary skills for new hires.

Even today, the company continues to do internal training based on our work. Using our materials, it has made significant progress against strategic objectives and is using Inclusion as the HOW in day-to-day business operations. The organization is a model within the parent company for approaching high performance through Inclusion as the HOW.

Inclusion as the HOW® for Union Negotiations

Through Inclusion as the HOW, a key plant within a major pharmaceutical company created an unprecedented mood of openness with its union representatives. Beginning the initial meeting by shaking hands rather than simply sitting in the traditional adversarial stance across the table proved helpful in relaxing the atmosphere and the negotiations that followed. By remaining open to one another's points of view and allowing everyone to be heard, the participants created goodwill for future negotiations.

In another key plant within this company, the union and management partnered to develop joint programs for compliance and safety. Using Inclusion as the HOW as a means to begin negotiations, the plant committee participated in a key inspection that resulted in improved understanding of regulators' expectations - and thus improved compliance on the shop floor.

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.