Helping an organization shape its Inclusion and Diversity strategy

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Participants
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Empathetic Research
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Design Sprint
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Tying Down

Context

A melting pot of disruptive innovation which it has demonstrated the world over, the organization took tremendous pride in two things. One, that it attracted the brightest and best minds from across the country. Two, that it was the company’s diversity which was spearheading its search for the next big thing.

With this as the background, it chose to look at disrupting the way it lands at its diversity and inclusion agenda. How does everyone get a fair seat at the table? How does one bring one’s Authentic Self to work? How do you create an Equal Opportunity Workplace? These are questions which its leaders were asking.

What did we do?

To get the organization thinking beyond mere ratios, we adopted a design thinking led approach for coming up with diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives. Cognizant of time and the need to show a tangible way forward, we chose to look at a short, quick design sprint backed by initial empathetic research.

What did research reveal?

Research helped identify three key User Personas which the organization would want to solve for as part of its D&I agenda and attendant How Might-We (HMW) problem statements. The first User Persona was ‘the Manager as an Advocate’. The HMW which the Sprint participants took forward for Ideation was How Might Managers encourage diversity without compromising on meritocracy? Similarly, the second and third User Personas were ‘the woman at a critical life stage’ and ‘the woman at a career inflexion point’ with the respective HMWs which the Sprint participants took forward being ‘How Might We support women given the current societal and family norms in India?’ and ‘In What Ways Might We help our women employees to create and represent their own personal brands?’, respectively.

While other User Personas were debated (such as ‘the Business Leader’ and ‘the Millennial techno-sociologist’), these 3 were felt to be adequately representative of the population today and in the near future  therefore warranting a structured agenda.

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The Sprint

The Personas and their attendant How Might Wes helped baseline the ideation process, which was carried out through a Design Sprint which saw participation from Business Leaders, Program Managers and Human Resource practitioners. The 6 hour Sprint saw them working in 3 teams, each of which one of the How Might We’s for the Persona assigned to them. From a repository of over 42 ideas, the 3 teams prioritised them, combined some and picked one idea each to prototype. During the prototyping session, teams thought through the desirability, feasibility and viability of their ideas - and prototyped the most unbelievable aspect.

So, was it as smooth as that? Of course, not! Design Thinking is an iterative process. One team pieced together a great idea to progress, centered around a platform which could integrate the many separate forums and initiatives being run in the organization. The second team built a digital prototype of a personal branding application, for internal use in the organization. The third team went back to ideation – to sharpen what it was driving towards.

So, was this par for the course?

Absolutely! The short sprint provided a great start - and a wonderful forum to bounce off initiatives with. In the process, we had three great outcomes. One, was a repository of ideas, two of which were also prototyped. Two, as part of Tying Down, we landed on a D&I agenda for the organization, building on the mix of ideas discussed during the Sprint; the debrief ideas/aspects discussed after the Sprint; and a dip-stick D&I survey administered on the participants and some of the research interviewees. The agenda called out an overarching philosophy and constituent pillars. And third, there was now a community of different minds who have come together on the D&I front.

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