Diversity & Inclusion – who cares? We do…

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The multi-award winning Range Rover Evoque is now one of the most successful cars ever built (worldwide sales show over 600k in 5 years).  But did you know that Range Rover specifically appointed more women onto its design team to ensure they could help design a car that would appeal to both sexes?

This strategy showcases how diversity delivers value in its truest form – surely a clear shout-out to anyone who says that diversity doesn’t matter!

At IAMCP UK we are charging forwards with our Diversity & Inclusion (D & I) strategy, working with a core team of our IAMCP UK members to shape a meaningful strategy that will help Microsoft partners build robust, diverse organisations that thrive and grow.

Following the outstanding Executive Roundtable session in December and due to high partner demand, the IAMCP UK Diversity and Inclusion Workshop hosted at Microsoft Reading Campus took place on 31st March.

Roland White, Global Director of D & I, Microsoft demonstrated why this emotive subject matters so much and aligned Microsoft’s mission statement to its approach to D & I ‘Empowering every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more’.

Interestingly, the biggest challenge faced by Microsoft is that its great culture and huge efforts to treat all people as people has created a positive environment to work in and company to work for. However, this in some ways creates a false belief that because things are good, you don't need to talk about diversity.

Following an incredibly enlightening and exceptionally well delivered presentation from Roland and lively Q & A, IAMCP members split into 3 workshop groups to debate:

- Driving change - Practical strategies for overcoming business challenges

- Agile workforce for the future - How to encourage a diverse workforce that can meet demand for our businesses now, and how are the different generations represented within our businesses for the future

- Why does it matter? – Open discussion on the drivers to embed D & I into everything we do. How can we tie embedding D & I within the DNA of our businesses to business benefits and ROI for partners?

Some interesting points came out of the group discussions including the whole perception of diversity, what does it mean and the lack of ROI and case studies to re-enforce that it matters.  Avoiding bias on job descriptions and hiring based on strengths versus a diversity quota was a common theme alongside how can we proactively create change amongst those that either don’t view D & I as a priority or don’t have the time to invest in understanding more about it.

A common trend when exploring diversity is the challenge of ‘preaching to the converted’, the audience is filled with people who have identified its important – but how do we communicate with, and reach those that just don’t get it.

In the words of Professor Michael Kimmel – “Privilege is invisible to those who have it” so how do you combat a bias when the very people who have the power and resources to do so are not even aware that it exists?

Summarising, there are 4 key pillars required to create a successful Microsoft partner D & I framework:

- Workforce – build a diversity-led brand/culture that enables partner’s to promote their business to both current staff and new staff (both now and in the future)

- Customers – understand and assess how customers are buying and increase your ability to engage with customers at a deeper level by meeting their diverse need

- Products & Services – are you developing a culture that is truly innovative by being diverse in nature (thinking about the Range Rover Evoque example)?

- Social Responsibility - investing back, something we all have a responsibility to do as human beings, which in-turn makes our organisations more robust and ultimately more profitable

We know that driving revenue and increasing market share is every Microsoft partner’s end goal but to achieve genuine business success, growth and innovation extends a long way beyond pure revenue goals.  One thing is for sure, if you are not driving diversity and inclusion, your competitors may well be.

In our discussion we all unanimously agreed that Diversity and Inclusion will change the world and how we do business in the future.  Forward thinking businesses were all on the same page with that.

So where do we go from here? Understanding that just because some organisations have sophisticated diversity policies and nominated diversity champions in place often don’t actually practice diversity or drive it forwards.

If we are to fully embrace D & I and embed a truly open and inclusive culture within all our organisations we need to create a valuable strategy that delivers.  As a first step to this why not challenge your own unconscious bias by exploring Microsoft’s complementary training – click here

Then look out for much, much more from IAMCP UK on our partner-led strategy to embed Diversity & Inclusion within all our businesses, in everything we do.