The Inclusion Imperative: How inclusive leadership made London 2012 “Everyone’s 2012” – Stephen Frost

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Stephen @frostincluded for a podcast, so it was a delight to attend his session.

What is diversity and inclusion?

Stephen opened us to be honest with ourselves and ask us whether we really like diversity or whether we actually surround ourselves with people ‘like us’ who reinforce our image of ourselves. Diversity 101 is a compliance-based attempt to make diversity happen. Stephen defined Diversity 2.0 as a more marketing-led initiative to do the right things.

Real Inclusion (3.0) is about infinite diversity, about really allowing people to be themselves. There is a lot of token inclusion going on where we scratch the surface by being diverse on limited demographic identifiers. Infinite diversity requires us to enable and support people to be themselves and really self-actualise.

Diversity is a reality with over 7 billion people on the planet, all of us different. Inclusion is a choice.

What is talent management? Stephen opened with the results of an experiment where identical CVs were submitted with different names. The ‘English-sounding’ name (for want of a better term) received a faster response.

Given our diverse world, the question isn’t “why should we be inclusive?” it should be “why wouldn’t we?”.

Leadership

Stephen talked about the type of leadership behaviours required, which involved trusting and empowering people, being transparent, and recognising that leadership is a group activity – not a solo effort. The London Olympic and Paralympic Games started with having everybody sign a leadership pledge in which people committed to be inclusive in their hiring, their buying, and in service delivery.

Delivery

The London Olympics and Paralympic Games had diversity and inclusion throughout, and it was significant that Tim Berners-Lee chose to type “this if for everybody” at the opening ceremony.

There are three main areas to work on to put true inclusion into practice:

(1) group leadership AND individual accountability – make sure that there is a high-level shared commitment to real inclusion, but make sure that people also have individual accountability for inclusion so they can’t hind behind the group.

(2) competition versus compliance – make sure that we encourage people to go beyond just hitting the minimum target. The London Olympics made progress across teams visible and encouraged healthy competition.

(3) Letting go – real Inclusion requires us to be inclusive in our approach to inclusion! We have to empower people to be themselves, we need to let go and let people do their thing. There are many things we can do to reduce unconscious bias, like doing group interviews.

As many of us will have seen, the results at the London Olympics and Paralympic Games were incredibly impressive.