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The Inclusion Imperative: How Real Inclusion Creates Better Business and Builds Better Societies

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The Inclusion Imperative showcases the inspiring commitment to inclusion the London Olympic and Paralympic Games' organizing committee espoused, and details the techniques and frameworks that enabled it to truly deliver a 'Games for everyone' at London 2012. Diversity and inclusion expert, Stephen Frost, challenges preconceived ideas and strives to inspire professionals to tackle inclusion in their organizations with courage, creativity and talent. With highly relatable examples, The Inclusion Imperative constitutes the best argument to convince sceptics that real diversity and inclusion can deliver more engaged employees and customers, improved employee recruitment and retention, increase productivity and better group decision-making processes. Real inclusion saves money and improves efficiency in the systems of an organisation, making the world a better place as a by-product. Building on concepts that include Diversity 3.0, detailed process journeys, and procurement governance, this is a must-read for HR and diversity officers frustrated with the guidance currently available, as well as for anyone who recognizes the legacy of the 2012 Games in fostering a tolerant and diverse society.

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01 Inside the tent: the seven stages of life in an organising committee

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Paul Deighton, the highly capable and humorous former Chief Executive Officer of the London Organising Committee (LOCOG), summarised the process of staging the Games in a seven-stage model. He was paraphrasing one of his predecessors, Sandy Holloway, the Chief Executive of Sydney 2000. The stages were, in very specific order: celebration; shock; despair; search for the guilty; persecution of the innocent; celebration (again); and, finally, the inevitable glorification of the uninvolved.

This is actually a useful framework to attempt to explain the background and context of the London 2012 Games, and specifically to articulate and explain the animal that was the London Organising Committee. The nature of the organisation appears in some ways unique: its temporary nature with an immovable deadline, the level of scrutiny and limited resources being key factors. However, for the most part, it was simply an intensified experience of what persists in most organisations. Other more mainstream organisations simply do not have to endure the level of external analysis LOCOG was subject to. Most companies are not public experiments. Since LOCOG was, we can all learn from the experience.

 

02 Outside the tent: the Olympic and Paralympic movements

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Former US President Lyndon Johnson observed that it was ‘better to have them inside the tent pissing out, than outside pissing in’. That could not be more true than in the case of LOCOG and the organisation of the Games. LOCOG did not organise the Games in a vacuum. The organisation was part of a larger system, just as every organisation is part of a larger system. And in a very real sense, the system organised the Games, just as the system often determines the fate of any organisation.

Above the organisational level, therefore, it is necessary to understand the external forces acting upon LOCOG. Stakeholders offered resources and expertise. They also offered wildly different viewpoints and agendas, requiring management. The practitioner is not only operating within and navigating an organisation (which is their job on paper), they are also obliged to navigate, or at least be aware of, the external system if they want to create systemic change. The challenge was to identify which bits of the system could be most helpful in bringing that change about.

 

03 Re-defining Diversity and Inclusion

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Every successful organisation has a purpose. The purpose of an organisation creates its value, and to that extent the purpose is sacred. To add any other programme into the mix, it must support that purpose, or else be of limited success. Many diversity programmes to date have been either detached from the purpose, and have therefore failed, or have been ‘on message’ but of such indeterminable added value that they are emasculated.

Let’s define terms. What do Diversity and Inclusion really mean? To date, there has been either a superficial understanding, and subsequently a superficial response, or an overly academic approach too removed from fast-changing real-world realities. To come up with a different approach, it is first necessary to go back to basics.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word ‘diversity’ originates from the Middle English and Old French diversite, or from the Latin diversitas. In the singular, it simply means a ‘range of different things’. The example they give is ‘newspapers were obliged to allow a diversity of views to be printed’. In Old French, diversity also had the distinct honour of meaning ‘repugnant’, which is how some people still view it.

 

04 The real business case for action

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Inclusion 3.0 is a call to action. This is not a business case for Diversity 101 or even Diversity 2.0. They can be found all over the internet and you can be the judge of how compelling they are. This is a business case for effective Inclusion 3.0 programmes, the type that was trialed at LOCOG. I have tried to take a more holistic approach from a systems perspective and offer five arguments based on customers, employees, growth, mathematics and ethics.

In Figure 4.11 we can see how the diversity paradigms play out in terms of creating shared value. Michael Porter of Harvard Business School says that shared value ‘involves creating economic value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing its needs and challenges’.2 Shared value is value that is created by organisations for themselves (profit, return on investment, shareholder value and so forth) as well as value for wider society (such as growth, social structure and new environmental solutions).

Diversity 101 would sit in the bottom-left quadrant. It is based on compliance and codes of conduct. It would create the least amount of shareholder value (which is expected, and not a problem for many proponents) but it also adds minimal social value. Diversity 2.0 is an improvement on this situation and can be found in the top-left quadrant, involving community investment, employee volunteering and other forms of charitable endeavour. However, it does not add any significant shareholder value, predominantly because it is comprised of a series of net cost initiatives. Only Inclusion 3.0 can credibly sit in the upper-right quadrant, with a systemic, value-adding approach benefiting both the organisation and wider society. That’s why real inclusion is an imperative – for business and for society.

 

05 The process

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This book aims to take the reader on a journey in 300 pages equivalent to the journey undertaken by the LOCOG team over five years. That process is defined as ‘understand, lead and deliver’ the simple and effective way we communicated the change programme to every man and woman involved in the project.

Table 5.1 summarises that process. In the upper half of the table the theoretical approach is laid out, demonstrating how we turned much existing orthodoxy on its head. For example, by acting as internal consultants who actually offered to help colleagues, rather than internal auditors who were there solely to ensure compliance, we were welcomed by colleagues and came to be seen as a resource. We were able to build trust and intervene deeply, rather than superficially, into the business. The lower half of the table details some of the tools we used in the process, to embed understanding, to encourage leadership and to instil a culture of delivery. They will be explained in each of the following chapters.

 

06 Understand

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For too long, diversity has been seen as the ‘other’, largely by a comfortable homogenous group of decision makers who are running the show. Critically, many of the ‘minorities’ that constitute ‘the other’ define themselves in this sense too and thus partake in their own exclusion. Scholars such as Michel Foucault and Simone de Beauvoir have written extensively on the concept of the other. The idea was popularised by Edward Said in his book Orientalism1 using the example of Imperial Britain and its increasing understanding of self in relation to its colonies around the world. A person’s definition of the ‘other’ is a key part of what defines their own being. Thus, white men understandably think their way of doing things is ‘normal’ and minorities accept it as so. In each sense, their understanding of the other side reinforces their own situation.

In many Western societies, when a white male commits an atrocity, such as Timothy McVeigh and the 1995 Oklahoma bomb, or Adam Lanza and the school shooting at Newton in 2012, they are labelled ‘crazy guys’. When a Muslim male commits an atrocity, such as the Tsaernaev brothers in Boston 2013 or the two men who hacked a British soldier to death in London 2013, they are labelled ‘terrorists’. In some ways a white terrorist would be the most disturbing of all for the majority, acting completely outside the constructed norm, which is why we call them ‘crazy people’ instead. There was a male Member of the LOCOG Board who made a couple of homophobic comments that I overheard. I observed how he was far more comfortable with a ‘camp’ gay head of department (conforming to norm) than he was with a ‘masculine’ gay head of department (challenging his perception of gay people). Norms and stereotypes are key determinants not only of our behaviour, but also of our beliefs.

 

07 Lead

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There are approximately 86,166 books currently listed on Amazon pertaining to leadership. I know that 25 of them are very good, but I am not sure about the rest, and I am not sure how many actually deal with leadership.

Leadership is about getting groups to face up to real challenges and address them to benefit us all. It’s distinct from management, in the sense that management is administration, a technical exercise, which can be often vital but is rarely transformative. The fact that MBAs are still called Masters of Business Administration seems strange to me, given what is most needed at this moment in time are not administrators, but leaders.

Leadership is not about ego, or power or authority, although a measure of all of these can sometimes help. Leadership is more about empowering others, empowering a team towards a collective goal or mission, the result of which is greater than the sum of its parts. Leadership is necessarily a group process, not an egotistical adventure. It is about seeking out the discretionary effort from each individual and combining it to some greater good. When people achieve self-actualisation, it not only benefits them, but the entire organisation, indeed all of us.

 

08 Deliver

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When the pressure became too intense, Lauren Finnegan, Diversity and Inclusion team member, told me in no uncertain terms ‘I can’t do this’. One month later, in July 2012, she successfully and brilliantly retained 2,000 disabled people in Games time roles, an unprecedented result. Understanding and leadership had been, and continued to be, a group process, the support was there. But individual responsibility was key to successful delivery.

One of the forms this took was monthly information sharing. We created simple one-pagers for each work stream containing a simple red, amber or green (RAG) rating and key comments on current challenges, risks and next steps and milestones.1 Their succinct nature, high frequency and wide sharing around the organisation allowed these reports to gain traction and credibility. They also allowed people to gain credit for great work but also to have the pressure of peer review for delivery. People disliked, and worked against, letting other people down.

We integrated Diversity and Inclusion reporting into the organisationwide monthly risk register. We measured impact vs likelihood on all 22 key Diversity and Inclusion projects (see Chapter 9) and integrated them with the overall monthly reporting. So for example, Martin Green, Head of Ceremonies was accountable for the RAG status on ceremonies, not just from a technical perspective, but also from an ‘Everyone’s 2012’ perspective. This approach applied with Deborah Hale on Torch Relay, Laurie Neville on procurement, Paul Nickson on arrivals and departures and so on. In all of these interactions, it was a cooperative, consultative approach between the business areas and the Diversity and Inclusion team, but the framework and the competitive dynamic were the key stimuli.

 

09 The interventions

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In order to achieve systemic change in the project, rather than merely decorate the tree, we had to intervene in the business where the business decisions were actually made. To genuinely add value, and to truly make the Games better, there was no point being an external ‘initiative’, we had to be integral to existing work streams.

Due to limited time and resources, as well as the scaling up of the project to 200,000 people, we had to calmly and carefully evaluate how, when and where we would intervene. In the original strategy I wrote in 2008 we said, ‘as LOCOG is only in business until September 2012 we have taken a strategic approach to Diversity and Inclusion to ensure that we can make the most impact in a relatively short period of time’. The force of circumstances led us to be systemic.

With a general understanding developing in the organisation, a willingness to lead and a hunger to deliver (the days were counting down), that good intent and energy had to be efficiently directed. How to intervene in a project of such depth and breadth? Of such complexity and risk? How to intervene and make a difference in such a short space of time with limited resources? Should we intervene in easier situations that were more or less guaranteed to get a result? Or should we tackle the ‘high hanging’ fruit and take greater risks to influence an outcome at great opportunity cost should we fail? Where was the precedent and, most of all, how did we create that ‘actionable inspiration’?

 

10 Workforce

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With 200,000 people to recruit, train and deploy, the workforce would literally be the face of the Games. We wanted that face to be as diverse and as inclusive as possible. This chapter details how we intervened in both the demand for labour, by influencing our colleagues, and in the supply of labour, by working with hundreds of stakeholders.

An additional challenge at LOCOG, besides the ramp-up and volume (from 50 people to 200,000 in five years), was that the profile of the Games tended to attract job applicants who were highly networked and who had previous ‘Games experience’. This pool is even less diverse than the typical London/UK labour market. If we believe the relational demography research then, at core, we were trying to get people to hire against their gut instinct, a tall order in any circumstances.1 Furthermore, we could not afford to make (many) mistakes with our hiring as we simply did not have time to re-hire to replace a wrong hire. We needed to be right first time – was inclusion a risk or, in fact, was it a risk mitigation tool?

 

11 Procurement

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I never liked shopping. My understanding is that most men don’t either. It therefore always perplexed me why most procurement departments I knew were virtually all-male teams. I wonder if ‘Heads of Procurement’ were renamed ‘Heads of Shopping’ whether it would go some way to shifting the gender balance in this area?

In 2007 I knew very little about procurement and had already assumed the area was dull and boring. Not only was this a discourtesy to the men and women who had built their careers in this space, it was also sheer ignorance of the game-changing role the supply chain can play in bringing about real inclusion. This, therefore, details the strategy of how we defied convention and published the majority of our $1.7 billion contract opportunities online, encouraged open competition and reached out to small businesses everywhere. LOCOG procurement was pivotal in creating Everyone’s 2012.

The majority of our budget (any contract over £20,000) passed through the procurement team. There was an opportunity here to influence hundreds of companies to change the way they did business. They could also be the real change agents in these Games. Furthermore, a major risk to our vision of Everyone’s 2012 was not simply our own behaviour, but the behaviour of our suppliers over which we had less control. The tragic and horrific collapse of a garment factory building outside Dhaka in Bangladesh used by suppliers to many Western clothing retailers in May 2013 reminds us of the interconnectedness of global supply chains.1

 

12 Service delivery

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The most complex intervention was service delivery; influencing upwards of 57 different departments (it varied over time) from catering to transport to the Torch Relay team. The challenge was to deliver inclusive Games services, accounting for all strands of diversity. There was little precedent I was aware of. There were also multiple portfolios, agendas and operating styles. There were at most two available Diversity and Inclusion staff to support these teams. How to inculcate Diversity and Inclusion within and across all functional areas to deliver inclusive service to our nine client groups? And how to do this at no additional cost, or even cost reduction?

The Diversity and Inclusion team was unorthodox and occasionally eccentric. They acted as internal consultants rather than auditors, with the offer of ‘how can I help?’ rather than issuing compliance edicts along the lines of ‘you need to…’. We laid down the challenge to each department to submit a proposed project, attain some budget protection, deliver a groundbreaking legacy and make history. We proceeded in three stages.

 

13 200,000 people: the workforce story

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There were two headline-grabbing people stories from the Games. One was negative, concerning the people that never showed, after security firm G4S failed to deliver on its contractual commitments and we drafted in the military to man security checkpoints. The other was profoundly positive, about the diversity and welcome offered to people by the 200,000 Games Makers. This was a bigger story in the end.

This is the story of how we influenced the recruitment of 200,000 people, lowered recruitment costs, saved time and ended up with the most diverse workforce ever assembled for any Olympic or Paralympic Games. Above all, it demonstrates how we did not face a trade-off between ‘diversity’ and ‘talent’.

We achieved or surpassed all our target zones across inclusion in the paid workforce – race (40 per cent black, asian or minority ethnic), gender (46 per cent female) and gender identity (trans staff included), disability (9 per cent deaf, disabled or having a long-term health condition), sexual orientation (5 per cent declared lesbian, gay or bisexual), age (36 per cent under 30 and 15 per cent over 50 with ranges from 16–79) and belief (all major faiths represented). Of the people we hired 36 per cent were previously unemployed and 23 per cent came from the poorest boroughs in East London.

 

14 2,700 footballs and 22 tape measures: the procurement story

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This is the procurement story of the Games. We found some brilliant ‘off the wall’ talent, saved $150 million and ended up with two-thirds of our contracts going to micro, small and medium businesses providing innovative products many of which we would never otherwise have known about, the Torch and the widely-acclaimed cauldron being two.

LOCOG procured over 1 million pieces of sporting equipment in the end, from 600 basketballs (each one needing to be tested and worn in) to 2,700 footballs, 22 tape measures for Boccia, 356 pairs of boxing gloves – and 150,000 condoms for the athlete’s village. LOCOG ended up buying over £1 billion in goods and services in over 650 contracts over eight areas: artists, performance and events, security, services, soft facilities management and catering, sports, technology, transport and logistics and venues and hard facilities management.

The real inclusion results have been twofold. We created significant supplier diversity – there is a set of smaller companies who have gained contracts with London 2012, from Brickwall Films in Hackney and Clarity that employs visually impaired people, to Saffords, a women-owned and managed coach company based in Bedfordshire. We also changed the policies of the larger organisations – there is a set of larger companies who now have more inclusive policies and procedures as a result of working with us. That affects the wider economy.

 

15 Logo and mascots

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In addition to my boss’s plane being struck by lightning and diverted en route to an International Olympic Committee meeting in Mexico, my first week in the job contained a Logo launch film that gave some people epileptic seizures and a mascot design process that took Diversity 101 to new extremes. These were two of the most high-profile ‘Everyone’s 2012’ projects of the Games and a sobering story of how to get it right, and wrong, when diversity takes centre stage.

Every Olympic Games and Paralympic Games to date has created some form of logo or emblem, a visual identity that represents the Games and their host city. The usual format is to have the Olympic rings, alongside the host city name, underneath some simple representation of what the city and their Games stand for. Some have become design classics, such as the artistic paintbrush strokes of the Barcelona athlete for the 1992 Games, or the stars of the 1984 Los Angeles Games. The Barcelona paint strokes embodied artists such as Picasso. The LA stars embodied US identity as well as Hollywood glitz. The Athens 2004 logo embodied the laurel wreath bestowed on athletes in ancient times echoing the birth of the Olympic Games, and Sydney 2000’s logo included a boomerang representing Aboriginal culture.

 

16 Who got tickets?

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If the London 2012 ticketing experience taught us anything, it was how commercial necessity and Diversity and Inclusion can happily coexist. Yet, as with the logo and mascots, a healthy dose of courage was required. The ticketing programme was critical, not just because it raised a third of LOCOG’s operating budget, but because it demonstrated beyond doubt how catering to different needs (niche marketing), not treating people the same under the illusion of ‘fairness’, and getting seats filled were inclusion goals, as well as commercial goals.

We had to sell over 11 million tickets in order to raise about a third of our operating budget (£700 million), and as a consequence stressed from the outset that there were no free tickets. That potential floodgate had to stay firmly closed. There were 8.8 million tickets made available for the Olympic Games and 2.2 million for the Paralympic Games. We called the campaign ‘the greatest tickets on earth’.1 Commercially, the need to raise £700 million, a third of our operating budget, placed huge pressure upon the Ticketing Director, Paul Williamson. Aside from being a Manchester United supporter, Paul was a fantastic guy and we worked together from the outset with him and his brilliant team. Louise Jolly in particular was relentless in coming up with new inclusive ideas to make the ticketing programme work for everyone. We appreciated the commercial imperative from the start, and they appreciated the need to thread inclusion throughout this most high profile of commercial activities.

 

17 Education and the Cultural Olympiad

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There is an untold aspect of the Games beyond the sport. It is the story of how we encouraged new audiences for the Arts and influenced the curriculum of three-quarters of British schools. It is a compelling case of how issues of inclusion are brought to the fore and how children instinctively understand Diversity and Inclusion better than adults do. It’s a humbling reminder of how we can learn from them. We just need to become more childlike sometimes, and strip away the inefficient baggage that we have picked up over the years that still keeps holding us back.

The original Olympic vision of founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin was Sport, Education and Culture, a general human improvement programme. However, in the modern commercial world, the latter two have somewhat lost out to Sport, which has reigned supreme in all recent Olympic Games. London, being London, and the UK remaining a creative, if no longer economic, superpower, Education and Culture were to receive their biggest boost in years with the London Games. As Seb said upfront ‘We are serious when we say that London’s Cultural Olympiad is an important part of the 2012 Games. These are not just warm words. Together with education and sport, culture sits at the core of the founding of the modern Games and retains that role in today’s Movement.’

 

18 The Torch Relay

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The modern Torch Relay was an invention of Nazi Germany. Carl Diem invented the protocol of transporting the Olympic flame via a relay system from Greece to the Olympic venue for the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. The Krupp armaments company produced the torches in wood and metal.

Thankfully, there are different authorities in charge of it today, and the London torches were produced by a small business in East London with 8,000 holes to represent the 8,000 diverse torchbearers. Before we arrive in 2012, however, let’s revisit 2008, our ‘test event’ for the London Games.

The Olympic flame is a symbol representing the universal values of peace, unity and friendship. Unfortunately, to many, the Beijing 2008 Torch Relay represented nothing more than China’s debatable human rights record. This was our opportunity to observe how not to do a Torch Relay.

When the Beijing 2008 International Olympic Torch Relay came to the UK, I was stationed in the central London section between Park Lane and Bloomsbury and had the responsibility of marshalling four disabled children and the Sugababes. The Sugababes were promising pop stars in 2008. Although not a music industry expert by any means, I believe they are not so promising in 2014.

 

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