Diversity & Inclusion – Read it and Weep – Part Two

For part one of this blog please go here.

The unconscious (or conscious, God forbid) exclusion of women from the FTSE top companies and the ongoing fiasco at Starbucks in the US should cause us to ask some serious questions about how we are approaching Diversity & Inclusion and learning in our organisations.

Time Magazine has some pretty damning things to say about Starbucks closure of stores to offer learning…

Decades of research show one-time corporate training programs not only fail to produce substantial results, but also can do little to change the subconscious bias of employees. Mandatory training sessions can drive backlash to these efforts as well, with some employees meeting corporate training sessions with resistance and “more animosity toward other groups afterward,” according to 2016 research published in the Harvard Business Review.

Our MD Barry Wall states….

Most organisations seem to be approaching learning in not just this but also other areas with absolutely no understanding of how learning takes place, let alone how they can change behaviours.

From Public Sector to Blue Chips to SME we seem to have a right mess on our hands, but why?

I firmly believe it is so that they can do the least needed to look good and cover themselves.

Harsh perhaps, but it is the elephant in the room.  If you add this to the unbelievably prevalent micro management and control freakery of many managers and you have a level of distrust that causes inertia, good luck with that.

Business learning in some instances in the UK is an utter shambles, and yes I may be “Raging against the Machine”  on this, but it is time to get back to basic, “Chuck out the Chintz” and get real.

Behavioural learning is hard, takes time, and learning provided must be rooted at the very top levels first.

If you are serious about improving, not just in Diversity and Inclusion, but across the board, then perhaps considering the following will help:

  • No quick fix exists – no matter how pretty, alluring or convincing
  • This will cost money – get over it – it is an investment worth doing and will improve profitability
  • Use professionals and stop thinking anyone can do it – that is just crass
  • Consider whether the learning is Technical in nature (manual handling) or Behavioural (Leadership, Customer Service, Emotional intelligence etc)
  • Stop the hard focus on the technical just because it is often mandatory; and can land the Directors in jail if done wrong.
    • Do this on e-learning where possible
  • Recognise that Behavioural learning..
    • Is ongoing and meticulously planned process requiring support at the highest levels of the organisation
    • Must have your organisational  aims at the heart of the planning
    • Cannot be led by e-learning (or as I call it…reading)
    • Is firmly rooted in cultural, social, economic and financial reasons for adopting the learning provided
    • Utilises Problem Based Learning as the main tool for learning transfer
    • Cannot be “sped up” no matter how much you want it to, including “cascading” which never has and never will work effectively
    • Involves discussion and interaction with others
    • Requires leading by professionals with Gravitas and expertise
    • Should always take place in isolation from other work activity to allow embedding to occur
    • Costs you and your organisations thousands of pounds if absent or weak
  • Is an antidote to:
    • Miscommunication – a horrendous hidden cost
    • Employee turnover
    • Employee sickness
    • The stifling of forward thinking and creative behaviours
    • Old fashioned management styles, entrenched and damaging in so many ways
    • Customer or client dissatisfaction
    • Getting sued because your organisation discriminated against someone and you thought “it cannot happen to us”

The Starbucks learning day illustrates clearly the underlying mentality of business. It simply is not possible to alter decades of an individuals reasoning, thought and behaviour by carrying out publicity stunts like this.

Is this just reactive arse covering?

If you are serious about learning, in the Knowledge Economy in which we work, then it is time to get real.

If not, just keep ticking boxes – the dominoes are falling.

Contact us now to discuss how we can help






Posted in PolkaBlog.