DeloitteTouché Tohmatsu Limited, commonly referred to as “Deloitte”, is thelargest of the ‘Big Four’—the four largest accounting firms in the world.
The BigFour firms operate as professional services networks rather than asingle entity. Each is a network of firms—managed and owned independently, butshare a common brand and quality standards comparable to franchises. Deloittecurrently employs 244,400 professionals worldwide and operates in over 150countries and territories earning revenues close to 37 billion last year(2016). Deloitte offers an extensive range of accounting services includingmergers and acquisitions, audit and assurance, risk management, financialadvisory, tax, and consulting. As a company that operates globally,Deloitte has long recognized the growing issue of managing a diverse set ofemployees and has continually conducted studies to facilitate in moving from amodel of diversity to a model of diversity and inclusion. The purpose of thispaper is to introduce the reader to Deloitte’s philosophical ideas regardingmanaging diversity and inclusion—specifically through 1.) the role leaders playin creating the appropriate environment as well as 2.
) diminishing whatDeloitte denotes as “covering”—a substantial barrier to diversity and inclusionas well as productivity. It’s important to note that managingdiversity has grown tremendously in the past two decades and soon it will be apart of every company to survive. Deloitte has long seen this inevitable trendand has devoted substantial resources in furthering their understanding in howto accomplish creating a highly diverse and inclusive workforce. The importanceof managing diversity has created a new environment for global business. Thebusiness landscape is erratic and complex—where predicting the future is harderthan before.
Several reasons account for why managing diversity has become morecomplex including globalization, a shift from a manufacturing to a serviceeconomy, new business strategies that require teamwork, mergers andacquisitions, a changing labor market and the diversity of ideas, markets,talent and customers. These concurrent shifts are the new context of businessenvironment in the present digital age. A setting that is driving innovativecompanies to change their management model from a compliance based diversity toa model of diversity and inclusion. In simple terms diversity is varietyor mix and inclusion is getting the variety or mix to work together well. Forthem to work well together each team member or employee needs to feelappreciated, treated fairly, valued for the unique aspects of who they are, andfeel a sense of belonging. Creating an inclusive environment is difficult,while creating diversity is rather easy—simply hire more people that are underrepresented.The key is not to have diversity for diversity sake, but to actually benefitfrom diversity which requires inclusion. While many large businesses havediversity programs, creating an accompanying inclusive environment ensureseveryone is being valued, supported, and respected.
This requires companies toinspect how fully the organization embraces new ideas, accommodates differentstyles of thinking and personalities (such as whether a person is an introvertor an extrovert), creates a more flexible work environment (such as individuallytailored schedules for new mothers), enables people to connect and collaborate,and encourages different types of leaders. Without inclusion, diversity cannotbe fully leveraged. It is the responsibility of managers who are leaders, tocreate an inclusive environment and Deloitte has pointed out the qualitiesleaders must have to foster the right environment.
Asthe business landscape has become increasingly competitive, inclusiveleadership has never been more important as it represents a new way of leadingemployees that offers a competitive advantage. Inclusive leadership in the eyesof the leader is about treating employees equitably, understanding theuniqueness of each person, and fully utilizing the heterogenous groups ideasand decision making. Movingbeyond diversity to embrace inclusion is very challenging.
It requiresleadership being able to lead inclusive teams that are heterogeneous. Theleaders of today and the future are responsible for improving their entireorganization to compete in the constantly changing competitive globalmarketplace. It takes a well-defined plan with a solid foundation and constantdevelopment and assessment of key leadership traits and skills to fosterinclusive leadership at the top of the organization and to inspire all membersthroughout the organization to understand and share an inclusive mindset.
Deloitte hasidentified several important traits of inclusive leadership after conducting asubstantial amount of research. Deloitte University Press published a paper byBernadette Dillon and Juliet Bourke—two highly respected diversity andinclusion specialists, called “The Six Signature Traits of Inclusive Leadership.”For leaders to attain diversity and inclusion, the authors contend inclusiveleaders must demonstrate 6 signature traits. The six traits that characterizean inclusive mind-set and inclusive behavior as a whole, enable leaders toaccess a diverse set of ideas, operate better in markets that are becoming increasinglymore diverse, connect with the wide range of customers they have, and empowereach individual employee to their fullest degree. The six traits of aninclusive leader include commitment, courage, cognizance of bias, curiosity,cultural intelligence, and collaboration.
First, inclusive leaders require commitment to diversity and inclusion,as these ideas inherently align with their personal ethics. They also trulybelieve in the benefits of a diverse and inclusive talent force. Theyunderstand why it is so important and are absolutely dedicated to achieving thehighest level of diversity and inclusion. These leaders show their dedicationin many ways such as devoting their time and energy into creating a highlydiverse and inclusive workplace. They invest in people and inspire others toaccomplish more than they thought possible. While the benefits attributable toa diverse inclusive workforce are understood by these leaders, the primarymotivator is not the business case, but rather the sense of fairness—valuing,treating, and celebrating each individual for who they are regardless ofgender, race, religion, sexual preference, etc. These leaders create passionthat reverberates throughout their environment. Second, inclusive leaders require courage to shake up the organization’scurrent homogeneous politics by speaking up, while at the same time remaining modestabout their capabilities.
These leaders are aware of their strengths andweaknesses and understand their limitations and seek others where they areweak. They are not afraid to admit to others when they make mistakes whichrarely occurs in management positions. As change agents, inclusive leaders also need to have the courage tospeak up even if unpopular among higher levels of management. These inclusiveleaders are not there to continue the same culture, but to change it. Often aculture can become so entrenched that no one would ever want to challenge itout of fear. This is exactly why courage is a trait leaders must have anddemonstrate often. This doesn’t mean creating conflict, but rather softly challengingthe current state of affairs. Regardless of the situation and how entrenchedthe attitudes and behaviors are in an organization, inclusive leaders need tostay on course, be committed, have courage, and understand change is a processand one that is often met with resistance.
Third, inclusive leaders mustrecognize cognizance of bias. Aswith everyone, each of us has our own biases and being self-aware is veryimportant in diminishing one’s bias as much as possible. As for theorganization, they are also aware that like themselves, the organization hasits own unconscious biases. Inclusive leaders must recognize their own andtheir organizations biases and lay a foundation, procedures, policies, andstructures to address the unconscious biases as much as possible. Fairness andrationality are often viewed through one’s own biases and the leader isexpected to make sure what they believe is fair and rational is correct.Objective decisions can become murky when one’s biases and or others are not understood.Biases can lead to certain attitudes, stereotypes, confirmation bias and groupthink—all being deconstructive and threatening an inclusive environment.
Furthermore, inclusive leaders go to great lengths to dissect their own biasesand employ techniques to diminish them, knowing without understanding their owncan lead to self-replicated attitudes and values that employees feel pressuredthey need to represent. Fourth, inclusive leaders have athirst for curiosity. Theirunprecedented open-mindedness allows them to want to understand how differentgroups of people experience the world. Being curious means one has the desireto learn and generate new ideas which is essential to compete in today’s globalcommerce. Learning doesn’t stop at college—it is a process that is perpetualand the number of topics can be virtually endless. Inclusive leaders accepttheir limited worldview and seek the perspectives of others to improve thevital decisions they make. To seek diverse perspectives, inclusive leaders mustbe able to ask the right questions, listen attentively, make employees feel atease and synthesis all extracted information.
They also must refrain frommaking quick judgments when engaging with others. Making judgments before allinformation is understood only limits a leader’s curiosity, thus it is vital tonot make quick decisions that suppress the flow of idea generation from theiremployees. Fifth, inclusive leaders are culturally intelligent. Managing adiverse set of employees requires knowledge of different cultures. It alsonecessitates being able to change management styles dependent upon differentcultural customs. The knowledge of different cultures cannot simply beunderstood by reading about them, but rather demands actually visiting thelocations and living among the population to see firsthand the social dynamicsof the people. Some cultures have customs that American business does notoperate in the same way.
To not respect the cultures method of doing businesscan have embarrassing and detrimental effects. Speech, tone, body language,facial expressions can all change when dealing with another country. Somecustoms in American business would be considered rude in other countries. Animportant aspect of inclusive leaders is their acceptance for ambiguity. Lastly, inclusive leaders empowerindividuals to be collaborative.
Multipleperspectives are extremely important; thus, all member of the team should begiven the opportunity to share their own perspectives. This is theresponsibility of the leader to create an environment in which all team membersare comfortable with expressing their viewpoints to other group members. Whenindividuals collaborate, they build off each other’s ideas to solve verycomplex problems. The foundation of collaboration is all individuals sharingfreely and as such all team members must feel comfortable expressing theirviews. Inclusive leaders must set the tone and create an environment in whichall team members feel comfortable sharing. This is accomplished by making surethe employees feel valued and that each person has something valuable to offer.The leader takes a hands-off approach, meaning he or she does not direct theflow of idea generation in any way, rather inclusive leaders encourage independence,empowering their teams to connect with others to discover a range of diverseperspectives, paying closeattention to team structure and team procedures.
In addition to leaders being anessential part in creating an inclusive environment, reducing the amount ofemployee “covering” is another important part in attaining a more inclusiveproductive workforce. Deloitte University (DU) Leadership Center for Inclusion workedtogether with NYU School of Law to develop a white paper titled “Uncovering Talent: A New Model for Inclusion”authored by Kenji Yoshino and Christie Smith. The research and analysisconducted suggests another process to attaining inclusion. The method orframework focuses on the issue of “covering,” which is defined as a strategicapproach employed by individuals to downplay or lessen a stereotype commonlyassociated with their identity from others to see—essentially hiding asignificant portion of themselves. People and groups cover because they believethey need to minimize differences with their coworkers to feel included at workand fit in with the predominant social customs and to avoid possible shame.
Covering is a response to pressures to conform or assimilate. Most the timecovering prevents individuals from bringing their true selves to work, whichworks directly against the aims of creating an inclusive environment. Althoughalmost every fortune 500 company has a diversity and inclusion officer andprograms to increase diversity, yet only 1% of CEO’s are black, 5% are women,and 0 are openly gay.
The lack of results clearly indicates diversity andinclusion efforts are not very successful at this time. The new model describes fourdimensions in which people cover; appearance-based, affiliation-based,advocacy-based, and association-based. The results of the analysis support anargument that covering creates a barrier to realizing inclusion. The concept of covering applies toeveryone in the work environment to some extent and can negatively impactindividuals’ sense of self and weakens employees’ commitment to theorganization Appearance-basedcovering describes how individuals change their appearance to help blend inwith the majority. This includes dress, grooming, behaviors, speech amongothers. For example, an older male may die his hair and or beard to appearyounger than he is to avoid giving off the impression he is too old to keep upwith the more energetic younger employees or that the elderly may be lookeddown upon.
A young man with tattoos may where certain garments to cover up histattoos out of fear he wouldn’t be taken seriously. Another example is anAfrican American woman may straighten her hair each morning to de-emphasize herrace. Affiliation-based coveringconcerns how individuals purposely avoid certain behaviors that are tied totheir identity to aid in minimizing potential stereotypes that could beassociated with him or her. For example, a woman may avoid expressing herselfas a mother for fear she may be looked upon by co-workers or management as notbeing as committed to her job as others. Another example is a man may avoidtelling others he enjoys watching and training martial arts out of fear otherswould think he enjoys violence and he may be a treat to the organization. Advocacy-basedcovering involves how much the person defends or supports their identity orgroup. For example, coworkers could make jokes that are offensive to a personthat defends gay rights, but won’t speak up because employees think it isfunny. Another example is an individual may have strong views on the right tobear arms, but would never voice his or her opinion out of fear of beinglabeled a gun nut.
The last dimension of covering outlined in the white paperis Association-based which involveshow individuals avoid conflict with other group members. For example, ahomosexual employee may not bring his partner to an organization potluck toavoid being seen as very gay. Another example is an individual choses to notbring his Muslim wife to a leisure work gathering during a time when Muslimsare being portrayed as terrorists in the mainstream media.
Christie Smith, Managing Principal for Consulting in the western region ofthe U.S. and co-author of the white paper, explains when people go to work they areworking a second job—with a description of hide my true identity, don’t standout, blend in and cover up my differences. This “second job” as Christiedescribes is subconscious and a way to survive, but is absolutely hurtingindividuals by denying who they truly are as well as the companies they work atbecause employees end up devoting time to working their identity. ChristieSmith poses the question whether this is really the way employees want to showup to work—essentially denning who they are, what they look like and their experiences. There is a clear corporate cost tocovering. Covering diminishes the potential of employees because they end upgiving only a portion of their intellect, desire, and consideration due tocovering. In the research and analysis of the white paper found 61% of overallemployees engaged in some form of covering to hide their true identity at work.
The statistical breakdown of those who cover consist of 83% of LGB, 81% ofthose with emotional or physical disabilities, 79% of Blacks, 67% women of color,66% women overall, 63% of Hispanic/Latinos, 61% Asian, and a surprising 45% ofwhite straight males. Two out of 5 respondents reported covering had a negativeor detrimental impact on their sense of self, and over 50% stated that it wastheir leader’s expectation of them to cover that impacted their sense ofopportunity and their sense of commitment to their work. People who cover, showup to work feeling less than and sub optimized and are contemplating walkingout the door. Christie brings up an excellentquestion of whether we can afford these kinds of outcomes in the workplacetoday? A workplace where over half of the workforce is working their identityinstead of their job. Christie Smith points out that this problem is aboutleadership.
Research indicates places the demand to cover at the hands ofleaders, the cultures they create in their work groups, business units, and theorganization as a whole. Christie argues that what we need in today’sorganizations is not only emotionally intelligent leaders, but emotionallymature leaders who have the capacity and the capability to have conversationsacross difference, to invite that difference into the room, to create the nextgreat invention or delight our customers, or meet growth numbers. Leaders powerof influence is immense and it will be felt by the sensitive collective of all theirpeople. But current leadership efforts have failed. A shift in view can changeall this. Incorporating the inclusive leadership traits in all leaders at Deloittealong with reducing covering will situate Deloitte as a premier inclusiveorganization.
When researching alternativeperspectives to managing diversity and inclusion, most all articles agreed thatdiversity and accompanying inclusive environment is very good for business, butwhat is important to remember is that it is no easy task to accomplish.Implementing diversity and inclusion can bring about many problems. Everyone inthe organization needs to be on board and make it a top priority. You need thesupport of all levels of management as well as all employees. A well-establishedplan with benchmarks and a feedback system are extremely important. Increasing workplace diversity andinclusion requires mandatory diversity training aimed at different levels of organizationalhierarchy. Employees, supervisors and managers must receive lessons on how bestintegrate teachings with employees and customers who represent diversepopulations. Sometimes employees may resent the fact that they must go throughtraining when it is forced upon them.
Some employees may view mandatorytraining as forcing employees to accept diversity at all costs, irrespective oftheir personal exposure and experiences. When training is not optional and is essentiallyforced upon employees—unintended consequences may occur. Employees who believediversity training should be optional may believe instead that the sheerconcept of diversity takes precedent over other kind of employee training anddevelopment that the employees may feel is just as important to improveemployees’ skills and capabilities.
Problems may arise when creating amore diverse set of workers. For the sole purpose of increasing therepresentation of minorities Human Resources may be pressured to hire employeesthat are less qualified than others. Hiring managers who are used to havingautonomy in hiring decisions may begin to begrudge how increasing diversityaffects their capacity to use their independent judgment and authority inhiring decisions. Employees who realize the organization’s goal is to increasediversity may feel they are less important if they do not represent a minority populationsthat is of focus in increasing diversity. Furthermore, they might believe thatemployees from diverse groups will have more opportunities to advance in theorganization. Taking this inconsideration is important in developing adiversity and inclusion plan.
In summary, Deloitte has longrecognized the importance of managing a diverse set of employees and continuesto be a thought leader in diversity and inclusion. Deloitte has identifiedseveral important traits of inclusive leadership after conducting a considerableamount of research. The six traits that characterize an inclusive mind-set andinclusive behavior, permit leaders to access a diverse set of ideas, operate moreefficiently in markets that are becoming increasingly more diverse, connectwith the wide range of customers, and empower each employee to their fullestdegree. The firm has also identified employee covering is a major barrier to achievinginclusion.
Training more inclusive leaders and addressing the issue of employeecovering will allow Deloitte to continue to be at the forefront of creating ahighly diverse and inclusive environment for their employees which willtranslate to continual business success.