A Brick in the Wall – Education and a Diverse Workforce

This is part three of a three-part series exploring the future of work and what true diversity can mean for you, the organisations you work in and society at large. Click here to read part one.

Let’s take you back roughly fifty to sixty years. It is the mid-19th century. The Ivy-League colleges in the USA have become a thing. (For those that don’t know the USA context, the Ivy-League refers to a group of prestigious universities which are often associated with academic excellence and social elitism)

In fact, never mind the Ivy-League, Oxford University in England doesn’t even have an origin story, but they think it started somewhere around 1096!

Of course, education as a concept isn’t new, what is new(ish) is this idea that education will ‘get you a job’. In fact, what we have been doing as a society, is using education as a filtration system. When there is a focus on qualification attainment, education becomes a filtering mechanism. Those that cannot achieve the lowest of standards become the ‘unskilled’ workforce and the ones that do become the ‘clerical’, and so on and so forth until we reach the hallowed halls of the nearest tertiary institute. The grand plan being, that once you reach and finish university, then you are ready for the most-skilled of roles in society.

Where do we teach creativity, innovation, teamwork, collaboration, problem solving or communication?

Since starting Weirdly, we have been investigating this notion of the ‘Future of Work’, and what that will mean for you. We’ve looked at what diversity could mean regarding personal qualities. We’ve looked at how your companies can be ready (or not) for a more diverse workforce. This week, we take yet another step back and look at society as a whole.

Worldwide, there is an overemphasis on teaching subjects rather than skills. We do not teach children how to learn; rather we are pushing them through assessments to gain qualifications which have no real-world correlation.

There is also a disconnect between industry and education. International researchers McKinsey and Company surveyed 8000 employers, providers and young people and examined over 100 programs. Employers consistently rated young people lower than education providers on competencies such as teamwork, spoken and written communication and problem-solving. The industry as a whole is sitting back and merely expecting educational institutions to churn out work-ready people, then complaining when it doesn’t happen.

It isn’t all doom and gloom. Some corporate giants have come to the fore and are working with schools or students directly. Microsoft, for example, has a yearly high school internship program where they pay kids for full-time employment over the Summer and give them real-life skills to take into their future careers.

Also, say what you want about charter schools, but corporations like Tesla have put their money where their mouths are and are opening STEM high schools which put emphasis on STEM over other skills.

We would argue that these initiatives don’t go far enough. As a society, we are expecting a school structure created in the 1950s to work for the brave new world of 2017. We look at the industry and lament about the lack of diversity, and yet our entire educational system favours the ones that are the same.  It is as if our schools are a factory putting out teenaged-widgets. The ones that are different are deemed defective and often don’t make the cut.

Encouragingly, the some of the so-called Big Four of recruitment (Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Deloitte, Ernst & Young and KPMG) have stopped relying on grades entirely. For example, Deloitte contextualises the academic data, looking at the economic background and personal circumstances as well as the scholastic achievements. Pricewaterhouse Coopers’ Director of Student Recruitment, Mr Richard Irwin, admits that figuring out how to measure these ‘soft skills’ is a work in progress for those recruiting young people. “Every year, we take data from the selection process and compare these to their performance in exams and in the business”.

While we don’t have all the solutions, we know that the ‘Future of Work’ is already here, and solutions like ours make this transition easier. We have started looking at machine-learning possibilities to feedback the data from your new recruits back into your quizzes, giving you the enterprise-level recruitment experience of Pricewaterhouse Coopers without the need for a multitude of data scientists.

 

Try a Weirdly quiz today. Find out what makes your recruits tick instead of what they got the tick for at school.

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What does your company smell like? And what does that mean for your organisational culture?

This is part two of a three-part series exploring the future of work and what true diversity can mean for you, the organisations you work in and society at large. Click here to read part one.

Imagine this… you are walking around downtown Kolkata (previously Calcutta) in India. It looks like this.

Downtown Kolkata

It is 99% humidity. It is 38°C (or roughly 100°F) and you feel the sweat dripping down your face. There are people everywhere, pushing and crowding.

Now imagine this… you are walking around the forests of Fontainebleau in France. It looks like this.

A forest in Fontainebleau

The air is crisp and cool. There is calm in the air. You feel a briskness in your limbs, and you breathe in the sweet smell of forest green.

When Professor Sumantra Ghoshal described these scenes in a speech at the World Economic Forum, he was careful not to disparage either of them and rightly so. There is nothing wrong with Kolkata. It is a vibrant city full of amazing things to see and do, and equally, there is nothing especially magical about the forests of Fontainebleau.

Professor Ghoshal draws an analogy between organisational culture and the ‘smell’. He admits that measuring organisational culture is inherently difficult, but if you imagine, you can almost ‘smell’ it. The key is to make sure the people that work within your organisation (the ones you need to perform well and feel engaged) are attuned, inspired and energised by that “smell” – the distinct culture, values and experience your company offers.

 

Four requirements for supporting diversity in your own culture

Last week, we talked about what a diverse person could look like. We all agree that we want more diversity in our companies, it is a quantifiably Good thing (with a capital G). But are we prepared to support that diversity? Are we creating the right environment, the right “smell” to allow it to thrive?

He emphasises that in order to build an organisational culture that smells like success, you need to improve in four key areas.

 

An organisational culture of stretch, and not constraint

Cat stretching

An organisational culture of stretch means that all your staff want to do is more. If you asked the question, “Can you think of an instance recently when you saw an opportunity to do something that would be of significant value to your company. Did you take it?” Would the majority of your staff admit to not taking the opportunities because of structural barriers? If we are increasing the diversity in our companies and encouraging many different thought processes into the mix, are you holding some of them back with an organisational culture of constraint?

 

Encourage discipline, not compliance

Puppies in a line

An organisational culture of discipline is about embedding self-discipline instead of ensuring compliance. It can manifest in a myriad of ways from simple things like always being on time to meetings through to more complex structures, like being accountable for your project goals without the need for micro-management. Creating a culture of self-discipline fosters the growth and allows diversity to thrive. Instigating an organisational culture of compliance displays lack of trust and alienates diverse thought.

 

Curate a culture of support, instead of control

Puppy Holding a hand

The whole role of senior management changes when you are not consistently being seen as the overlords of control but as those who exist with one purpose only, to support your staff to win. You can do this by providing access to resources or coaching and by guidance and not control.

 

Lean into trust, rather than contracts

Dog trusting their owner

Most large companies (and come to think of it, most societies) have become overwhelmingly contractual. The idea that there’s no trust without a legal contract binding you to your word. Of course, we’re not advocating you dissolve all your contracts. But to really encourage your staff to fly in their diverse ways, we  need to nudge the pendulum a little closer to the middle – increasing the level of trust we have in each other and in our workforce.

 

So, do you have a good handle on your culture’s unique “smell”? Whether you’re a forest in France or a busy street in India, a diverse, inclusive environment is better for your organisation – the question is, are your ready to support it?

 

Weirdly creates customisable screening quizzes that test every applicant for values alignment, instantly. Integrate it with your ATS and collect valuable diversity and candidate experience metrics. Talk to one of our team today to see how Weirdly could work in your own organisation.

Where do you keep your tomato sauce (ketchup)?

This is part one of a three-part series exploring the future of work and what true diversity can mean for you, the organisations you work in and society at large.

When Leslie Miley (at the time, senior engineering director) questioned the steps being put in place for diversity action at Twitter, the senior VP of engineering responded with “diversity is important, but we can’t lower the bar”. For Mr Miley, this was a turning point… he also then realised that he was the only African-American in engineering leadership at Twitter, the same company that, some would say, drove the #blacklivesmatter and #ferguson movements.

This was in 2014, and while Twitter (and indeed many other companies) have made some great advances since then, there is still more to be done.

Diversity comes in many flavours and colours… it’s not just gender and ethnicity… but even with obvious markers like gender and ethnicity, most companies are failing. Staying with Twitter for a moment, their own diversity report stated that even though African-Americans and Hispanics made up more than 30% of the active users, their engineering and product management team had less than 5%.

In fact, putting aside gender and ethnicity for a moment… Let’s talk about tomato sauce (or ketchup for our American readers). Where do you keep your tomato sauce? Is it in the fridge? Or the pantry?

Studies have shown that there is a definite grouping of people who keep their sauce in the fridge, vs those that keep it in the pantry. Why does it even matter? Scott Page, a professor of complex systems at the University of Michigan explains why. If you keep your sauce in the fridge, and you run out of sauce, your alternatives are vastly different from the pantry-storage cohort. You might choose mayonnaise instead of malt vinegar, for example.

In fact, Professor Page went further than just sauce. He compared two sets of algorithms for solving a problem. One set was similar in its makeup and the other set diverse. The diverse set solved the problems better each time. The non-diverse set kept getting stuck at the same place.It’s the non-diverse team that needs the bar lowered!

It just makes sense, diversity isn’t necessarily about what you look like… it’s about how you think.

When Mr Miley was interviewed in a podcast, he explains: While sameness will be good for a fast growing startup – you think the same, there will be less misunderstanding and you can communicate quickly – if you want to grow, you need to have diverse teams. Yes, it will affect efficiency at the beginning, but don’t be lazy… Learn different communication styles, experiment with different internal team structures, adjust your decision making processes and you will reap the rewards. He suggests that one of the best ways to increase this diversity is to try different types of questions at the interview process… it’s almost as if Mr Miley is advocating for Weirdly!

 

Try those different types of questions now. Look for people who share your weird.

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The benefit of the doubt – be kinder to your candidates

Giving someone the benefit of the doubt means that you hold a positive opinion or judgement of a person because there is no reason for you to think otherwise. Here at Weirdly, we strongly believe that recruiters should give people the benefit of the doubt. This means that they can become the people you want them to be. Yet, increasingly, there are more and more examples of people assuming the worst in people and then actively going to look for proof.

Since Alphabet – Google’s parent company – bought Diane Greene’s Bebop for $380 million in 2015, there have been rumours swirling round about what Google plan to do with their acquisition. Bebop wasn’t just one product, it is a new development platform that makes it easy to build and maintain enterprise applications. It has a heavy HR focus, after all, its primary mission is “making it easy for people to be more productive”.

Then a few years ago, Google released a closed alpha of the Cloud Jobs API, and again the rumours swirled. Is Google about to take on LinkedIn and its friends?

This sort of news should be positive. It should show that corporations with the magnitude of Google are taking the idea of talent acquisition more seriously. The amount of data that Google has could revolutionise hiring, bringing a holistic, whole view of a person to the recruitment table.

Instead, publications like The Sun (and indeed our own New Zealand Herald) led with headlines like “Fears Google Hire could allow employers to see your entire search history”. This sort of headline assumes the worst in people. It assumes all the candidates have things to hide, and that they are actively hiding them, and it will take extensive Google searching to find these ‘gems’.

Weirdly’s software allows you to hire people based on how well they fit the culture you want to create. By giving someone the benefit of the doubt, you can allow that person to fulfil your vision. We believe that recruitment isn’t a chore, it should be a fun and honest chance for you to get to know your candidates, but not to the extent of finding hidden skeletons in their closets… we can leave that for Halloween.

 

Start changing your culture now. Create your Weirdly quiz for free here.

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#aucklandrec – the diversity edition

#aucklandrec or Auckland Recruitment Meet-up is a regular Meetup of talent sourcing professionals from all over Auckland. Fuelled by Toto’s Pizza and lots of tasty beverages; over 100 talent professionals chatted, networked and learnt about diversity.

After some drinks were had……

…the speakers kicked off. First up was Katy Anquetil from Manpower Group who started with a thought provoking demo:

Three volunteers – two women and a man – were each offered a glass of wine, and much more wine was poured into the man’s glass. Katy asked the man if he was a parent, when he said yes, he got more wine!

It was a very visual way to show the wage gap… Katy pulled out stats which shows that it is a whopping 12%, unless you’re a parent… then it grows to 17%.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though, in a room full of talent professionals, Katy gave some very concrete actions through the use of a pertinent Ryan Gosling meme.

Ryan Gosling says: Hey girl, didja know that if women were earning as much as men, the US Economy would produce over $47 billion in additional income... will you ask for a raise?

Then next up was Philip Patston from DiversityNZ but speaking about Be Accessible NZ. He had the shakiest start to his presso… getting stuck in the lift on the way in!

A stark reminder that you should check your equipment regularly!

Philip also started with some stats…

1 in 4 kiwis have access needs

Pointing out that while 1 in 4 kiwis have access needs… 60% of them are un/under employed. The opportunity cost of this workforce exclusion has been calculated at $11.7 billion. He then outlined some of the amazing things that Be. is doing to fix this:

Things that BeAccessible NZ does

Last up was Claire Montgomerie from Westpac NZ. Conscious of the fact she was standing between the crowd and the pizza, Claire went through the amazing things that Westpac had done with with Inclusion and diversity. Through consistent programmes, Westpac NZ’s leadership team is now 51% women.

Claire pointed out that it wasn’t good enough to consider only one type of metric… and that Westpac NZ had created a group or programme for all sorts of diversity. They specifically had groups for culture, gender, sexuality, age, disability & accessibility. In fact, they are one of the first kiwi companies to be awarded the Rainbow Tick.

Well that was us from #aucklandrec. It was a blast, and if you are in recruitment you should go and sign up on Meet-up and perhaps we’ll see ya there!

PS: the pizzas were awesome, thanks XRef!!

Some takeaways from the evening:

Katy Antequil from Manpower Group

  • As a talent sourcing professional and not the hiring manager, YOU can ask the hard questions:
    • Why Hiring Manager would we offer X less than Y for the same job?
    • Why would X be less qualified because she took a year off?
    • How do we determine a candidates worth? Is it not based on the job we are asking said candidate to do?
    • Shall we conduct an organisation wide pay gap audit?
  • Always submit a diverse slate of candidates, if necessary, strip CVs of gender and ethnicity before giving them to the hiring manager.

Philip Patston from Diversity NZ

  • Tell Be. of any internships or professional positions that might be of interest.
  • Check them out online → www.beaccessible.org.nz

Claire Montgomerie from Westpac NZ

  • Your programmes need to be company wide and driven from the top down. If there is no buy in from the top level, it will fail.
  • Consider all types of diversity and try to be inclusive for all.

 

 

 

Want to work on your diversity? Including a Weirdly quiz in your hiring process is an awesome way to target the weird that you want.

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Robots vs Humans: are algorithms going to replace you?

It seems weird that a company that is about finding the very human idea of cultural fit is looking at algorithms to be the next big thing. You know the role that you’re hiring for, after a few personality quizzes and several interviews, you feel that you know the applicants and you definitely know your company…surely you are the best person to find that ideal candidate.

In fact, research has shown that even simple equations beat human decisions by at least 25%. This holds true across the board, from the trenches all the way to the c-suite.

In last week’s #CIO100 launch, Gartner presented their top 10 Strategic Predictions for 2017 and beyond. In particular, they predict that by 2020, algorithms will positively alter the behaviour of over 1 billion global workers. Gartner believes you can solve ‘talent retention and attraction’ using pervasive algorithms. Or, specifically, by creating algorithms in every aspect of your business,

Unfortunately, the algorithms out there in HR land is all about crunching big data to tick the right boxes. There is no mention of cultural fit at all! (there are a few coming, but the jury is still out till we see it in the wild)

What’s worse is that Gartner also predict that by next year more than 3 million workers globally will be supervised by a ‘roboboss’. Or, in other words, an algorithm that will determine what work you need to do. What will happen to your carefully crafted company values if half of your team are ‘robobosses’?

Weirdly believes in allowing you to hire people based on how well they fit with your weird… not only the culture you have right now, but the culture you NEED, the culture you WANT to have.

Remember that algorithms rely on the data that they are given. The decisions that they make are only as good as the data that you are putting in. If, like us, you believe that great culture comes from connectedness, engagement and relationships… then you feed those data points in, and your algorithms will, in a non-biased, non judgmental way, calculate the best person for the job. What’s even better is that Weirdly will assess your culture and your goals, find the opportunity profile for productive culture evolution, and assess the candidates to fit. We aren’t about just removing human error, we’re about empowering you to make creative and strategic decisions about the direction that you want your culture to go.

We do believe that the next big thing will be machine learning and algorithms. What we need to do as a society is not lose track of the human-ness. Machines don’t get distracted by inconsequential details, they are amazing at crunching through large amounts of data with no bias… but they need to be told what to do exactly.

Weirdly can help with knowing which data is important to track and which data needs to be fed back into the system. While we are working on all sorts of exciting things to automate some of this, all of your team needs to start off in the right mindset. Data should not be an afterthought, or a chore you do after the ‘real work’ is done. Your data strategy needs to be built into your processes right from day one. This way, your company will be at a competitive advantage when you turn the robots on… you will already have all your ducks in a row.

Build the culture you want to have now, start thinking about the attributes you want and it’ll take us 30secs to generate a quiz

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#HRTechConf: Your live feed of insights, tweets and gifs

HR and Recruitment conference season has hit the states and it’s shaping up to be a doozy. HRTech conference (Hashtag HRTechConf)is being held in Chicago this year, overlapping with LinkedIn’s Talent Connect conference in Vegas, then followed closely by the 2016 Global Talent Management Conference in New York.

If jetting back and forth across America isn’t on the cards for you this year and you’re feeling the FOMO, we’ve got your back. Starting with #HRTechconf, we’re collating the best insights, opinions, news and hilarity from select sessions across all three days. To make it even more convenient, we’re doing it right here for you. No need to go filtering through miles of twitter feeds and LinkedIn posts.

This feed will be updated live across both main days of the conference. So dig out an old lanyard, make yourself some watery coffee and tune in. It’ll feel like you’re really there!

 

 

We’re measuring culture fit wrong: A lesson from your kid’s school shoes

Measuring culture fit is shaping up to be one of 2016’s more controversial topics. Recruiters are pretty agreed that assessing more than just a candidate’s skills and experience is important, but what “fit” really means is up for grabs. The thing that’s missing from many of these discussions is the implied follow up question: Fit with what, exactly?

I remember being a kid, going shopping for school shoes with my mum. Parading back and forth in front of that tiny, knee-height mirror, stopping periodically for mum to squish the toes and check there was enough room for my feet to grow over the school year. You see, every parent knows the universal truth of children is that they’ll always grow out of their shoes.

The same truth applies to business. Any organization, regardless of size or stage, is always growing. Hiring more people, growing into new offices and complexes, expanding or innovating product lines, adding new revenue streams.

Business is about growth. Surging forward. Growing into bigger shoes.

So why do we not apply this truth to company culture?

The concept is simple: We know business is about progress and growth and moving forward. And we know culture is the heart of a business. Logically, culture should also be growing and progressing and moving forward, shouldn’t it?

That means when we’re planning and building and thinking about corporate culture, we should remember it’s an evolving thing.

The culture you have today, is only a stepping stone to the culture you could have tomorrow.

In the same way as we constantly refine and improve our products to improve customer loyalty or generate more revenue, we should also be constantly refining and improving our company culture to create happier, more engaged, more productive people.

It’s an infinite progression. There’s no point where you sit back and say “Hurrah! We’ve achieved maximum culture. Let’s stop improving and evolving now”. Your culture, like your business and your kid’s feet, will always keep growing.

 

Hiring for culture fit the way you shop for kids shoes

What’s the first step most people take when hiring for culture? Usually, it starts with assessing the culture they’ve already got. Using tools like Culture Amp or the Denison Solutions favoured by many of the Fortune 500 companies, you can define your current culture pretty accurately. But here’s why using that as the benchmark for measuring culture fit is dead wrong.

Looking for a fit with something you’re going to outgrow doesn’t make any sense.

Instead, finding someone who will help influence and create a better version of your culture – who will help push your culture forward in a positive direction makes more sense.

Culture development is a strategic role. Thinking about how your culture needs to shift and grow is part of setting your culture strategy.

Hiring the way you buy your kid’s school shoes means considering how your culture is likely to grow, and what kind of person will help craft that next stage of culture development and looking for a fit with THAT goal. Not just considering a fit with how your culture looks today.

So when you’re shopping for new talent to join a team, take a moment to remember that space in the toe of your 8-year-old’s school shoes and think strategically: How is your culture going to change and grow over the next 12months? Is this candidate going to help drive that growth?

 

If you’re recruiting with your growing culture in mind, Weirdly’s the right tool to add to your HRtech arsenal. Click for a free trial here.

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Psychometric tests vs culture screening: It’s not as simple as you think

Psychometric tests are big business in the recruitment world today. A 2014 Forbes article estimated 60-70% of applicants are completing some kind of personality test when applying for jobs with US employers.

You really can find these tests everywhere: closely guarded by experts with fancy degrees and leather patches on their elbows, or floating free on the internet for anyone to use (and misinterpret). Smart people have spent decades creating and testing and tweaking these tests to be predictable and robust. In the right hands, they’re a valuable tool.

 

So what’s the difference between a psychometric test and a culture screening tool like Weirdly?

Well, a lot.

Think about it like this. Personality-assessing psychometric tests are like a guy who can tell you everything there is to know about a particular set of tyres – all the vital measurements and the engineering that’s gone into making them – right down to the most minute detail. A culture screening tool like Weirdly is more interested in telling you whether these tyres are likely to work on your particular car, the way you’re driving it and in the conditions you’re planning on driving.

A personality test will tell you lots about a person – how they communicate, what they care about, how they need to be managed. Weirdly (and other culture screening tests) will tell you one thing: is that candidate going to complement your culture?

Psychometric tests assess the candidate Psychometric tests don't assess personality and skills, not fit

 

When is assessing “culture fit” a waste of time?

Another recent Forbes article claimed 89% of poor hiring can be attributed to bad fit. But culture fit has become a controversial term in the HR and Recruitment circles. And with pretty good reason. The lazy way to think about fit is to look at the culture you have, and find someone who will perfectly slot into the team. They share the exact same cultural attributes and values as your current crew; they’re a perfect fit. But that’s a recipe for discrimination of the worst kind. That I-don’t-know-what-I-want-so-I’ll-just-get-the-same-thing-I-always-have style discrimination.

The smarter way to think about culture assessment is by looking for a fit with some aspirational culture goal.

Think you’ve got the perfect culture already so you can stop trying to improve it? You’re wrong. That’s like saying you’ve got the perfect relationship so you can stop working on it.

Culture is an organic thing. It grows and changes as people and businesses grow and change. It can always be improved, just as people can always be better and kinder and smarter and stronger.

When our business was facing down a particularly challenging period of growth, we needed more emphasis on the celebration part of our culture to carry us through the hard times. When our business gets stuck on a plateau and growth is stalling, we might need more emphasis on competitiveness to kick things into another gear.

The values that make up our culture may stay pretty similar – competitiveness and celebration are always there, but how each of those values is emphasized naturally shifts as the business requires it and as our mix of people changes.

Strategic culture fit, recognises that. And the things that qualify a candidate as a “good fit” will adjust too. Coming into that challenging growth period? A good fit is a candidate who has infectious optimism will amplify your celebrations. Hitting that plateau? You need candidates who will push the team’s competitive spirit to the next level. Whether you use the term Culture Add or Culture Fit, it should mean the same thing. You’re looking for people who will contribute what your culture needs to be better.

 

Does screening for culture replace psychometric tests?

Short answer? No.

The longer answer, like always, is it depends. A great culture screening tool like Weirdly refines your shortlist down so you only apply rigorous psychometric personality testing to a few pre-qualified candidates. It means you use psychometric testing to get a deeper understanding of candidates you already know fit the parts of your culture you need to emphasize. That may mean you’re not doing the heavy, expensive testing on as many candidates. Instead, you’re saving it for the people you know already have the potential to succeed.

That’s how you turn big business, into smart business.

Interested in using Weirdly for culture screening before you kick off the full psychometric testing? Just pick the attributes you want and it’ll take us 30secs to generate a quiz.

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Inclusion creates diversity: How an inclusive workplace can change your community

Inclusion is a hot HR trend for 2016. Making people feel safe, respected and valued is important part of a healthy culture. Māori Language Week is a great opportunity for Kiwi workplaces to put some of those inclusive policies into practice.

 

It’s Māori language week here in NZ. Te wiki o te reo Māori. It’s an opportunity for Kiwi businesses to honour our awesome, diverse country while also achieving those company #culturegoals. Bringing the ‘Inclusion’ part of your Diversity&Inclusion policy, to life.

Inclusive culture can have a huge positive impact on your team productivity, your company’s bottom line and your retention rates – it’s pretty well documented. But have you ever thought about the impact your inclusive culture can have beyond the office walls?

Our workplaces are often like mini versions of the communities we live in. Sometimes the representation is a bit off (hello #girlsintech), but ideally the attitudes and culture of our organisations should look fairly similar to the communities we serve.

So in NZ where Māori are heavily underrepresented in leadership roles and, in some cases, entire industries, we’ve got room for improvement.

 

A culture of inclusion can change the world

One of the things we talk about a lot in the Weirdly team is how business has the power to effect big change. And if there’s one change we’d all like to see, it’s a shift toward a more inclusive society built on empathy.

A few recent events have made this feel more urgent lately – ranging from the truly tragic, to the truly ridiculous. I’m not sure where ‘the rise of Donald Trump’ fits in that scale but you can be sure, it fits somewhere.

Donald Trump v Inclusion

 

We wrote a blog a while ago about how the wonderful diversity of New York city could stand as an example for building diverse, culture-led workplaces.

Now as business people, we have an opportunity: let’s make our inclusive, diverse workplaces an example for our cities and communities to follow.

By creating a culture of inclusion, we’re helping our teams challenge and review their perspectives. And when our perspectives are challenged, and people’s differences are valued, we have more empathy for each other.

 

Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori: An opportunity for inclusion

We don’t have the same level of overt racial conflict that some other nations see, and we’re making steady strides in addressing more than a century worth of systemic “othering”. Our Māori heritage is widely recognised as an important part of what makes NZ so special. But the job isn’t finished. Think about your workplace.

How well does it recognise that heritage? Could you do any more to be inclusive of Māori perspectives, language, traditions? Heaps of our organisations are great at this. But you know, some of us could do a little better.

Two of Weirdly’s four founders are Māori. I’m one of them and if I’m totally honest, the thought of using Te Reo to create a more inclusive culture hadn’t even crossed my mind. But after hearing fellow founders talking about being “the token Māoris” at business events, or how they wince every time they hear their entirely white team rolling out the old Māori-place-names-as-swear-words joke, it made me think. Language is powerful. It’s a tool for uniting and teaching. It creates familiarity. If we’re serious about being inclusive, language is a great place to start.

 

Create Inclusion using language

 

Inclusive = empathy = productivity = good for business

A friend of mine works for a multi-nation engineering firm. They’ve developed an education resource – a game for school-aged kids to learn about resource management and engineering infrastructure (I was all 🙄 about this too, but it’s actually pretty cool). In revising the tool for the NZ market, they’ve engaged various iwi to consult on parts of the game. They’ve included challenges around piping water through tapu sites, they’ve woven Māori words and phrases throughout the game – they’ve actively looked for ways to translate their own culture of inclusivity into the product they’re creating.

And the coolest part is that this process is making the workplace an even more inclusive place. Discussions about different perspectives are happening organically over lunch-breaks. People are becoming more empathetic as a result and that’s leading to more productive discussions when opinions differ on a project.

Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori provides an opportunity for us to create that same effect in our own workplaces. It’s about using language to bring a culture of inclusiveness to life and create a culture of open discussion and productive empathy.

There are obvious positive roll-on effects to innovation and productivity. But imagine for a minute, the impact it also has on our local communities. Embedding this kind of empathy and inclusive respect into our workplaces means people carry those same attributes into their own homes and communities.

In the case of this week’s whakanui of Te Reo Māori, we get to use language as the way to build more inclusivity and familiarity with a crucial part of our national identity. Making part of our nation’s culture, a part our workplace culture.

That’s pretty tu meke, if you ask me.

Want to include a bit of reo into your recruitment process? Weirdly screening questions are totally editable so you can use your own language – however you kōrero

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