Starting your Inclusion and Diversity journey: It’s time to eat the frog…

21 Oct 2021

Starting your Inclusion and Diversity journey: It’s time to eat the frog…

There are multiple reasons why Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) is now front of mind in organisations. Here Sue Johnson, Managing Partner of Odgers Berndtson’s Inclusion & Diversity Consultancy highlights a few of the reasons of why I&D should be a key priority...

  • Mirror your consumers/customers - to understand their wants and needs
  • Innovation – to harness your workforce creativity and ideas
  • Safety/Quality/Absenteeism – to create a highly engaged workforce who care for each other and take pride in their work
  • War for talent – to attract and retain the best talent available
  • Stakeholder engagement – to demonstrate to external partners your commitment and action
  • Societal –to support under-represented groups who have not had access to equal opportunities in society/workplace previously
  • Performance KPIs – to track your performance and success using multiple metrics
The path to I&D however, requires cultural change, leadership commitment, time and effort.

Challenges along the way include mitigating systemic unconscious bias (for example interviews are conducted with hiring managers asking their favourite questions, e.g., what will you achieve in your first 100 days, or how would you friends describe you in 3 words), rewriting the organisation unwritten rules (e.g., you have to have 5 years’ experience before being considered for an international assignment) and leaders that role model inclusive behaviours, every moment, every day.

Where to begin

Multiple organisations are on this journey; however, many want to start, but just don’t know where to begin.

Mark Twain once said “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” This quote was an apt metaphor for Brian Tracy in his book Eat That Frog! “Eat that frog!” means to start your day with the biggest, most important, and most dreaded task.

It's also the task you are most likely to procrastinate on.

With this in mind, we recommend you treat Inclusion & Diversity as a business, not a HR challenge.

Our 10 top tips to support your I&D journey:

  1. Focus on the Why not the What and How – In the change management book “Our Iceberg is Melting” over 40% is dedicated to creating a sense of urgency. People need to connect with the why I&D is important before rushing to create action plans. Find everyone’s personal motivation to act and connect.

  2. Clear vision and mission – everyone knows the elevator pitch. Short and simple is best…

  3. Authentic role models at the top – you need to see it to believe it. Leaders are required to be experts on multiple topics, and so rightly rely on briefings/research from others to inform them. Facts tell, however stories sell, and so ensure leaders provide personal connections to why I&D matters to them and upskill them on what are the keystone Inclusive behaviours we expect.

  4. Goals and Targets – what does success look like, rooted in data. We appreciate not everyone wants targets, however its important to know where you are starting from, where you want to go and how people will be held accountable. Consider targets as a short-term measure to start conversations and action.

  5. Celebrate the short-term wins – the journey to an I&D organisation is in a number of sprints not a marathon. Recognise teams, employees, departments who are early adopters.

  6. Upskill for success – build I&D knowledge, skills and nudges into every training/employee development. For example, shift handover meetings, ownership is to be rotated between team members, consider quiet storm over brainstorm ideation meetings to ensure introverts and extroverts have equal share of voice.

  7. Allow a realistic timeframe for cultural change.

  8. An omni-channel Communication plan – to inform people again and again and again, everyone is busy, keep reminding them why this is important, what we expect of everyone, how we are changing.

  9. Resource/budget allocation – this is not a “side of the desk” initiative. Consider when launching a new product/service, would you ask passionate volunteers to run the campaign in addition to their day job? Demonstrate you treat I&D as a business imperative with a reasonable resource/budget allocation.

  10. Bake D&I into how you do business – with your staff, customers, stakeholders, suppliers, partners…Everyone, everywhere, all the time...

At Odgers Berndtson, we are proud to be able offer proven solutions and approaches to help you start, accelerate, or refresh your I&D journey. For more information, please contact Sue Johnson, Managing Partner of Inclusion & Diversity Consultancy at Odgers Berndtson at