The importance of asking others to dance

Jorge Pikunic

By Jorge Pikunic
Managing Director, Centrica Business Solutions

“Diverse organisations are better organisations”. This statement is widely accepted and hardly controversial today. Credit Suisse ESG Research and other analysts have shown that diverse companies outperform other companies on several financial metrics. Although causality is difficult to prove, those of us who have worked in diverse environments know that there is a virtuous circle: good organisations work to improve their own diversity. Diverse organisations have access to more talent, benefit from a wider range of perspectives when they make decisions or design new products and propositions, and are better equipped to serve their customers. In other words, diverse organisations have many of the ingredients that make good organisations.

However, diversity alone is not enough. For organisations to really reap the fruits of their work on diversity, they also need to work on inclusion. What is the difference between diversity and inclusion? Verna Myers, VP of inclusion strategy at Netflix, put it best: "Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance”. In an inclusive organisation, everyone feels like they can contribute and bring their whole selves to work.

Creating an inclusive environment is not easy. Recent analysis by McKinsey & Co. shows that even relatively diverse companies face challenges creating an inclusive environment.

That is why we must work at it. We must welcome others’ views, purposely bringing people in and genuinely seeking feedback from those who think differently than us. We must embrace authenticity, welcome differences around us, and celebrate those moments when others choose to reveal a little more about themselves.

Inclusion requires us all to be each other’s allies: to be vocal advocates of all diversity strands, to sponsor and mentor others, to call out behaviours that are not inclusive or simply not right. Above all, inclusion requires us to have a deep respect and acceptance for each individual and a genuine appreciation for who they are and for what they can contribute. That requires a deliberate effort, every day, every hour, every interaction.

But it is worth it. Inclusive organisations are more resilient and innovative. An inclusive culture is the harmony that enables the organisational orchestra to use all its different instruments to produce a vibrant and moving symphony.

Let us dedicate this Pride month to inclusion, to being each others’ allies, to asking others to dance.