The inclusion and diversity imperative
The power of diverse teams
A lack of parity and inclusion is both ethically wrong and bad for business. It severely undermines the ability of teams to innovate, ‘the coming together of people of different ethnicities with different experiences in cities and societies is a key driver of innovation’ (The World Economic Forum). Diverse businesses are higher performing. Increasing diversity from the board of directors down is a focus for both policy makers and business leaders.
However, a diverse team is not enough; it must also be inclusive. Every voice must be included when teams come together to create, innovate and decide.
Unfortunately workshops and meetings are often dominated by a subset of voices. For example, there is a strong body of research highlighting the challenges faced by women when it comes to group collaboration: ‘having a seat at the table does not mean having a voice’. As BYU political-science Professor Jessica R. Preece states based upon recent research, ‘women are systematically seen as less authoritative. And their influence is systematically lower. And they’re speaking less. And when they’re speaking up, they’re not being listened to as much, and they are being interrupted more.’
Quiet experts and ‘outsiders’ - e.g. people new to the organisation or from different departments - are unheard, despite their potential to challenge orthodoxies and group think. Things are made harder by hierarchy and cultural and language barriers.
Consequently, many teams are using only a portion of their collective mind. So, what can organisations do to address these challenges?
Ensuring every voice is heard
At Axis, one of our core purposes is to persuade people to a new approach to collaboration. We aim to enable organisations to harness the power of diversity through inclusive live collaboration. Axis is informed by thousands of hours of expert workshop facilitation experience and the latest research into group behaviour. We have tried, tested and refined our methodology for structured and facilitated collaboration to make it quick and simple for anyone to facilitate in a way that gives everyone a voice and enables true collective decision making:
- Anonymous input that enables people to speak truth to power, challenge orthodoxies and share lived experience
- Collective decision making with secret ballots that visualise divergent opinions (a key way to break through group think) and dampen the effect of unconscious bias
- A structured flow from framing the context through to planning for action which provides purposeful moments of silent thinking and creation
- Instant structured export of everything submitted by participants with complete traceability and transparency
This combination makes it natural and simple for everyone to share, shape and influence.
To further our inclusion and diversity mission we will be releasing a series of inclusion and diversity workshop templates. These templates - beginning with gender parity - will cover a host of inclusion and diversity issues, enabling teams and organisations to drive open, honest and inclusive collaboration.
These templates are free and unlimited to all users: it does not matter if you have a paid subscription or not - for any templates categorised under 'Diversity and inclusion' in the template gallery, you can run the session without a participant limit.
This is the start of a new journey for Axis, and we are looking for organisations to work with us to co-create more of these templates, so if you would like to get involved please get in touch with Axis' inclusion and diversity lead Giulia via firstname.lastname@example.org