But an inclusive culture is vital if you want to attract and retain a diverse organisation.

Towards the end of my career at Walgreens Boots Alliance, I had the privilege of being a member of their global DEI council. Attending an external session on the subject, I had a moment of realisation that, as a white, heterosexual male in his fifties, there was no doubt that growing up in the UK when I did, I would have benefitted from unconscious bias throughout my working life – whether I realised it or not.

Now, I can’t change that – but by accepting it, I could choose to either shrug it off, or to do something about.  So I chose the latter and decided to become an ally to the growing diversity and inclusion conversation.

Before Christmas, I was delighted to be asked by Steve Baggi, CEO of KultraLab, to support some thinking on the subjects of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. And I use the plural ’subjects’ intentionally here, because as I am learning – they are related topics, but they are not the same.

Often it seems like ‘DEI’ or ’Diversityandinclusion’ are all one word – which is to vastly undermine the power and importance of the individual words ‘Diversity’ and ‘Inclusion’.

Throw an ‘E’ into the mix, and things possibly get even more complex when it comes to the practicalities of recruitment, reward, and working environment.

I wonder if another way of looking at things is if the ‘D’ is the ‘what’, ’the ‘I’  is the ‘how’ and perhaps the ‘E’ is the ‘why’.  How do you create cultures and environments that make sure EVERYONE feels treated equitably and that they can succeed?  How do we embed psychological safety, respect, authenticity and trust so that we can create truly inclusive cultures where everyone feels heard, regardless of what defines their ‘difference’?

The working title for KultraLab’s upcoming research is ‘Unleashing the power of difference’, the hypothesis being that organisations who can create inclusive cultures will have a competitive advantage when it comes to recruitment, retention, productivity and, to be frank, creating a happy workforce where people bring all of their talent to work with them on a daily basis.

But how do you measure the ‘hard’ commercial benefits of inclusion, and how do they sit aside the undoubted social purpose? And what is the ‘tipping point’? What has to happen so this is the norm, and not something that anyone feels the need to research?

In undertaking this study, it has been my privilege to speak to a wide range of leaders on this subject.

I’m not going to get into the outcomes of this research here (it’s still ongoing, and the analysis of the interviews is yet to be completed), but the breadth of perspectives has been powerful and has covered much ground, and I am very excited to see what emerges when everything is considered.

I’m particularly curious to see what the post-COVID ‘work’/’career’ landscape looks like

Perhaps what is changing encompasses what people consider when they think about ‘career’.  I wonder if we are now firmly in a world where brands and employers will be scrutinised and held to account by their stated values, and the experience of those who work there; a world where sacrificing flexibility and lifestyle will not be considered acceptable; a world where intolerance, bullying and prejudice become consigned to the history books as far as ‘being at work’ is considered…?

And perhaps we are entering an era where the organisations that win are those who unleash the power of difference, rather than constrain it, embracing different voices and utilising the full talent pool available rather than simply ‘doing what they’ve always done’.

Imagine a world where leaders make brave decisions that enable their teams to create cultures that are built on non-judgmental respect, and that reward is based on merit, supported by shareholders and investors.

I love the sound of this world.  I may not be at the stage of life where I will work in it, or even see it fully embraced, but I am excited by the possibility.

Whilst we may be moving a step closer towards this nirvana, many organisations may still be grappling with how they move from the ‘D’ to the ‘I’ and create a truly inclusive culture.  How do we measure success?  There may be a way to go, but I think it is fair to say that the change will have to be driven by action – it won’t happen passively.

Organisations can not afford to stand still – if they do, they will get left behind.

This, of course, is just my opinion.  What’s yours?

To find out more about how Kultra can help your organisation move the dial on inclusion, get in touch – info@kultralab.com