Leadership Accountability Towards Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)

Blog | Leadership Development | Rise and Lead Women | Workplace Leadership
January 23, 2022
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“Real change will only come when gender equity is treated like any business objective with clear targets and accountability” – Sandra Ondraschek-Norris

Transparency and accountability are important levers to drive DEI. The Oxford dictionary defines accountability as the fact or condition of being accountable or responsible. Accountability towards DEI ensures ownership and defines answerability, liability and reporting.

In this week’s article, we highlight the discussions around DEI accountability, commitments and best practices for turning commitments into actions, moderated by Rhonda Ocha (Director Market Delivery at Mastercard Europe), with the following panellists:

  • Hanneke Spruyt-Panbakker – Vice President Sales, Country Manager Benelux at Procter & Gamble
  • Terence Guiamo – Global Director Inclusion, Diversity & Belonging at Just Eat Takeaway.com
  • Derek Bruce – Director Leadership Development, Signify Company and Owner, Derek Bruce Associates

Rhonda briefly presented a study done by Gartner, mentioning that “DEI leaders are still struggling to implement effective accountability measures. Half of organizations actually hold leaders accountable for DEI outcomes and 60% say that leader accountability is the biggest obstacle to realizing DEI progress”. With given records like this, our panellists provided some actionable points that can guarantee DEI accountability, including:

  1. Ensure that the corporate KPI and DEI targets are aligned to bring growth of the organization. According to Terrence, the way to connect or align both targets is to look at it from the ‘business case’ perspective. In other words, both organizational and DEI targets should be seen as an organizational strategy or a business plan that is geared towards an increase in the growth of the company, which includes their earnings. This, he says, is the best way to get people accountable. He argues that not meeting the DEI targets simply means you have not met the company targets because both as a business plan/strategy are embedded in each other. Therefore, the failure of one simply means the failure of the other. Thus, a good business plan should include, amongst other things, inclusion, diversity and belonging. In addition to this, Hanneke shared with us how P&G has recorded tremendous progress because she sees DEI as not just morally right, but what is needed to win the consumer and business case.
  2. The creation of an environment of belonging. Leaders should not only rely on the numbers showing how many female or young employees they have, but should also create a feeling of belonging, says Hanneke. According to her, “It is great to have women included in the numbers but if the feeling of belonging is not there, then their full value or potential will not be harnessed”.
  3. A change of behaviour and mindset. For Derek, it is also not just about the numbers but what mindsets organizations need to change daily. He shared with us a beautiful example of a recruitment process that didn’t meet its target because of a wrong process system with a biased mindset. Company X was looking to recruit women for certain roles but only had 10% of the applications from women. When they investigated why this was so, they discovered that the words used in the job description were more masculine. Therefore, to be accountable, organizations need to look into changing the attitude of all its processes, from the advertising, recruitment, development initiatives, talent to even how the talents are defined.
  4. Continuous learning and unlearning is a good way of showing accountability, says Hanneke. She says leaders need to keep working on their unconscious biases. She shared with us a program that P&G has for new recruits on Personal Leadership to enable them to discover themselves early and help build confidence and authenticity. Derek, on the other hand, highlighted the need for continuous education to be from the position of ‘bringing people in’ and asking what can be done to make things better next time and not from the position of blame or finger pointing.
  5. A commitment of sponsoring younger employees. Terrence advised that in addition to Hanneke’s Inclusive Leadership training program, sponsoring is taking it to the next level. This way, as a leader, you are not only advocating for, but taking responsibility for the development of a person.
  6. Be free to ask questions even if they are difficult. Asking difficult questions can make one feel vulnerable but being vulnerable in itself is very powerful, says Hanneke. Terrence added that in asking difficult questions, one should also be confident and ready to receive difficult answers.
  7. Finally, listen more and talk less, says Rhonda. She says it is not about convincing the other person or debating with them, but trying to understand the other point of view as doing this eliminates biases.

We had a very interesting discussion with this panel. I recommend that you watch the full video from the 2021 edition of the Rise and Lead Summit by clicking here. Please subscribe to our YouTube channel to enjoy more interesting discussions from Rise and Lead 2021 Summit. Remember to turn on your notification bell so you don’t miss out on any of our uploads. Thank you!

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