Inclusive leadership is so important in sustaining an inclusive workplace and Board Members have a critical role to play. Here’s my experience of how fundamental a switched on Board can be.
A number of years ago I was delivering Board Member diversity training, at the end of the session one of the Board Members approached me and said that whilst it had all been very interesting, how could you teach an ‘old dog’ (his words) new tricks? I answered by explaining that the more we talked about diversity, the more we used, and challenged those who didn’t use the right language and terminology and the more we monitored and measured our progress the more accustomed and aware he would become.
I don’t know why but at that point I was reminded of the adverts of the 1970s staring the Green Cross Man and decided to use it to make my point.
As some of you may recall, the Green Cross Man was a tall chap who wore white and would teleport himself to the scene of a potential road accident to offer advice to children on how to cross the road safely. The campaign to highlight the danger of roads and encourage their safe crossing hinged around the Green Cross Code which encouraged children to ‘stop, look, listen and think’ before crossing. These public information adverts ended with the memorable slogan ‘always use the Green Cross Code because I won’t be there when you cross the road’.
And so I told him that like the TV campaign of the 70s, he would automatically ‘stop, look, listen and think’ even when I wasn’t there. From that day on whenever our paths crossed he joked about crossing the road safely but so too he became the most enthusiastic champion for diversity; actively demonstrating inclusive leadership through his whole-hearted participation in diversity events and initiatives.
One day he early came to my office to tell me about how he had responded to a comment from a Board Member from a different organisation who had said that ‘fluffy EDI stuff was a waste of money’, my Board Member proudly told me how he had put him right by explaining the business case for EDI strongly outweighed the costs incurred and who wouldn’t want to work for an organisation in which people were valued for bringing their whole self to work.
The old dog had certainly learnt new tricks.
Diversity is high on the agenda in 2021, which is fantastic, but like the 1970s road safety campaign, the key to success isn’t just a memorable slogan or talking about it, the change we all want to see requires action.
Organisations are at different points on their inclusion journeys. There are undoubtedly some great companies doing some great work to increase the diversity and inclusivity commitment of their Boards and senior leadership teams. There are also others who need to take more action. Now is that time for that action. Stop, look, listen, think and act!
Positive About Inclusion can support your organisation’s senior management team and Board to create an inclusive workplace culture.
Contact us for more detail about how we can help.