Network Event – Exploring an Inclusive Culture

7 October 2023
Lucy and Karen are standing at the bottom of a flight of stairs. They are posing with Helen Hogben (a Trinity Chambers Barrister) as well as two further attendees at the network event.

Our Directors and co-founders, Lucy Malarkey and Karen Faulkner have been invited to speak at a Law Society In-House Network event hosted by Trinity Chambers alongside Helen Hogben, a highly experienced Barrister specialising in employment and discrimination law. This was an opportunity to explore what it takes to create and embed an inclusive culture, all speakers shared their thoughts and insight on the numerous organisational and individual advantages.

Karen began by reflecting on the far reaching business benefits from embedding an inclusive culture. Extensive research has demonstrated that an inclusive workplace in which diversity is embraced provides different perspectives, increased creativity and innovation, better decision-making and faster problem solving. Furthermore, investing in inclusivity can enhance an organisation’s reputation, improve hiring results, reduce employee turnover, increase levels of engagement and ultimately increase profit. It’s a strong business case!

An inclusive culture where everyone feels a sense of belonging has a hugely positive impact on personal wellbeing. As social animals we all crave a sense of belonging, it’s part of our DNA. We all want to feel valued, respected, listened to, regardless of our background or experience. When the culture is right, people feel that they are being included, recognised, appreciated and confident to be themselves, bringing their authentic self to work.

As Karen explained, creating an inclusive culture requires a whole system approach. It’s not just about policies and procedures but it’s about everyone’s mindset and behaviours. Inclusion really is everyone’s business. But inclusion doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it doesn’t happen without action, it won’t happen just because someone senior says so or because of a beautifully worded commitment on your website. It requires investment in your culture.

At this point, Helen shared some insightful perspective and observation from her extensive experience of the organisational damage resulting from a failure to get this right and of not challenging inappropriate mindset and behaviours.

Lucy then shared her thoughts on the five key steps an organisation can take to embed an inclusive culture:

  • Take a Temperature Check

Complete a thorough audit of your current position across all elements of the business. Listen to colleagues to appreciate their experience of your culture. Are you using consistent language and imagery across all of your platforms? Inconsistency is inauthentic – if you’re saying something in one place, and not in another what message does that send? Measure what you do – report it, check your temperature again. This sends a strong, positive signal to your employees that you mean what you say.

  • Find Your Passionate People

Find your ‘flash mob’, every organisation has these employees and they are the ones who will make the most difference. Engage and enthuse them, empower and encourage them. If you provide these people with the right resources, time and support, they will keep the momentum going. They can provide a mirror to your approach and act as an ear on the ground to what is happening that you might not be aware of.

  • Commit to the Right Type of Training

Cultural training is required for all. Everybody has got a role to play so everyone needs to be included. People managers are critical – on the journey to an inclusive culture the Board are programming the SatNav, the people managers are the Conductors of the bus! All training needs to be aligned to your Vision and Values so that it is not seen as a bolt on. If you want to change behaviour, you have to win hearts and minds. Provide people with simple and practical tools that they can use every day to embed inclusion such as how to challenge effectively without it becoming confrontational and how to be an active ally.

  • Keep the Kettle Boiling

Diversity isn’t just for specific celebration or awareness raising type dates. The organisations who get this right are those where leaders are open and honest about the learning journey they are on. Talking about the subject is critical and yet language can so often be perceived as a barrier. It’s so important to keep the conversations going as that’s how we learn – cultivate a learning curiosity, ask questions and find out about people with different lived experience from your own.

  • Learn From Your Mistakes

We are all human and mistakes will happen, and Lucy ended by sharing a story from her personal experience how from a mistake, great progress can actually be made.

All attending agreed that the network event had been a great success and had provided an excellent opportunity to explore the factors that contribute to an inclusive culture, as well as providing an informal environment for in-house lawyers to meet and share learning with fellow in-house Legal Teams.

Ready to learn more?

With over 50 years of combined experience, we’re the right choice to start you on your inclusion journey.

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