Succeeding with BME Equality through Inclusive Leadership - Ian Dodds

Early in my career, when I was HR Director of a large chemicals factory in Huddersfield, I was made an honorary member of the Huddersfield African Caribbean Society. This was to recognise the contribution that I had made to Black Minority Ethnic (BME) equality on the factory. I had done this by building an inclusive culture through developing all of the factory’s managers to be inclusive leaders right down to the frontline. This meant that they valued and respected people from all diversity backgrounds and helped them perform to their best.

I did this by helping the Executive Team develop a vision of success for the factory by engaging all of its employees, i.e. building an inclusive culture, in making it the best in the ICI Group, then the largest chemicals group in the world. We succeeded in delivering this vision 5 years later; but, amongst many other achievements, we made significant progress with BME equality. Building an inclusive culture is the key to leveraging equality for everyone, whatever their diversity, and yet this is seldom the approach taken in organisations. I am currently doing work with a major employer which has made little progress with BME Equality despite its efforts over more than 2 decades. This time I am confident they will succeeed as I have convinced them that the key enabler of BME equality is an inclusive culture.

Once the vision of success of achieving organisational objectives by building an inclusive culture has been communicated I ensure all of the the managers, right down to the front line, are trained to become inclusive leaders by:

  • Developing interactive effectiveness skills, e.g. seeking information; checking understanding; acknowledging feelings and positive contributions; summarising; etc;
  • Empowering people by using the Lawlor Empowerment Equation. i.e. Empowernent = Power (P) x Information (I) x Recognition (R) x Coaching (C): Empowerment =PIRC;
  • Being skilled in giving effective feedback and in-the-moment coaching.

To ensure all managers right down to the front line are trained in interactive effectiveness I use an interactive effectiveness tool to do this based on research by Morgan and Rackham which identified 16 interactive behaviours that are utilised in effective interactions. Half of these are ‘telling’ behaviours and the rest ‘seeking’ behaviours. I train internal Inclusion Change Agents to use the tool to coach managers at all levels to be interactively effective.

In terms of the Empowerment Equation:

  • ‘Power’ means people being clear about their resposibilities and accountabilities;
  • ‘Information’ means people knowing how to access the information they need to exercise their responsibilities;
  • ‘Recognition’ means people receiving constructive positive and negative feedback on their exercise of their responsibilities;
  • ‘Coaching’ means people receiving coaching to enhance their strengths and overcome their weaknesses in exercising their responsibilities.

If you want more information on this approach, which is so successful in leveraging BME equality, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Dr Ian Dodds FRSA