The power of inclusion
09 August 2019
Daniel Birtwistle and Rachael McDonald, Inclusion Partners at Mourant, examine the importance of fostering an inclusive culture in the workplace, and the steps that Mourant is taking to be a leader in inclusion among offshore firms.
With the growing body of research and increasing level of media coverage that clearly points to the business benefits of nurturing a diverse and inclusive workplace, there's a compelling case for inclusion being high on any business’s agenda.
Implementing an inclusion strategy into any business is a complex process and, if it’s to be done properly, isn’t something you can just pick off the shelf. Many businesses have been working on strategies for some time, and they are now starting to see the positive results.
This is very much true of the inclusion strategy we've developed here at Mourant.
For years, we've upheld our value of mutual respect and reflected within this a belief that respect for difference and building a business where our people can bring their whole selves to work is important. We recognise that an inclusive workplace is one where everyone feels they belong and are valued for who they are and what they have to offer. So, in early 2018, we decided that it would be beneficial to place inclusion at the top of our agenda.
The first step was the creation of an Inclusion Sponsorship Committee, to champion our vision to be recognised as a leader in inclusion in the offshore market. Following on from this, we proactively sought out the views and opinions of our people through an anonymous online survey, which resulted in very helpful and purposeful feedback and insight.
Leading the way
From the survey results, we learned more about where we were getting things right and where our people felt there was room for greater focus and improvement. As a result, we were able to identify our priorities for 2019 and start rolling out a number of initiatives to deliver on these.
Chief among these was inclusion training for our leadership team, including a session on unconscious bias. In addition, online training was undertaken by everyone in the firm.
At the heart of our learning programme is the desire to increase knowledge, develop understanding and drive cultural change – and we firmly believe this needs to be driven from the top.
"Inclusion is one of our key business priorities and we recognise the importance of fostering an inclusive community." Daniel Birtwistle, Inclusion Partner
Alongside training, we have prioritised three other areas:
• Recruitment and talent management – our recruitment process for all roles is open and fair, and we strive to ensure that everyone has the same chance to develop
• Communities – we recognise the importance of fostering an inclusive community and we empower individuals to make change through our employee-led networks
• Building trusted relationships – we create an environment where everyone’s voice is heard and a culture where we empower our people to reach their full potential.
We've also introduced a new flexible working policy, which acknowledges that many people have varying specific requirements which, when supported through flexibility, allows them to optimise their time.
Furthermore, we’re piloting ‘mentoring circles’ where participants have the opportunity to be a mentor and a mentee. By pairing people from different backgrounds or disciplines, not only are we allowing their voices to be heard, but we're also opening them up to new opinions and experiences, reflecting our commitment to the professional growth of our people and helping them to excel.
Aligning with our clients
Inclusion is very much a representation of the world we live in, and we also know that it's what our clients expect from us. Increasingly, clients ask about our inclusion policy, because they want to align themselves with firms that have these values and measures, checks and balances at their core.
It's therefore important to us that we have a diversity of talent so that we can continue to provide our clients with the best services and solutions through the contribution of diverse perspectives. But we also recognise the need to have particular conversations with our clients and set specific standards.
As such, we will be introducing a number of business development (BD) commitments on inclusivity. Our BD plays a role in shaping the culture of our business - BD behaviours and activities champion our values, connect us physically and emotionally with clients, and inspire team members as they progress their careers with us.
"Nurturing a culture of inclusivity and mutual respect is vital to us. We believe we are on the right path." Rachael McDonald, Inclusion Partner
We recognise that we're on a journey and that nurturing an inclusive workplace takes time. We believe that with the commitment from our leadership team, the robust strategy we have in place and by promoting a culture of fairness at all levels and across all roles, we're on the right path.
Click here to watch a video about our journey and the steps we're taking.