IN a world in which human capital is more than ever the most important raw material, there is now compelling evidence that businesses or countries that fish in only half the talent pool are handicapping themselves badly,” – Cherie Blair in the London Evening Standard of 07/03/12.
Coaching for a diverse workforce – Rosalind Taylor, CEO Naked Leader
Cherie Blair’s observation concerning women in the boardroom applies equally to the ever increasing and inclusive pool with a greater variety of diversity available than ever before. Employing from such a pool is covered to some extent by employment and discrimination laws in many countries, the real issue though, is to find, recruit and exploit the wealth of skills and talent available to us, as employers, that enables us to take our organisations forward in a creative and dynamic environment – viewing the diverse workforce as the strength it ought to be.
When I set the topic for this year’s Coaching Conference, I saw many, in fact, as many or more articles as ever, concerning the lack of women board members, features on the amazing achievements of disabled paralympians and a continued polarisation in some quarters to stay within the familiarity of our origins and its culture.
We must surely be aware that, society today is inclusive of all races, abilities, sexes, sexual orientation, ages, educational backgrounds and religious beliefs, and, ultimately, all our organisations serve that community and would be better placed to do so if the organisations workforce reflected the rich mix that our customer/client base encompasses.
I would argue that Corporate Social Responsibility includes this conscious awakening if we, as a society, are to evolve into the inclusive, trusting civilisation we would all wish for in future generations.
The coaching Community is in the best position to help us all develop and put ourselves forward as individuals, whatever our circumstances – this is a strong fit with our Naked Leader ethos ‘you can achieve your desired success, no matter what your background’ and it is entirely appropriate that the coaching profession takes a good look at how it can really make an impact on this in the workplace, where others are failing.
While preparing the agenda our speakers were already dividing into such strong viewpoints such as all coachees are viewed and coached as individuals so there is no need for special considerations and – there are so few women or disabled board members – that surely targeted coaching for those identified with potential, combined with an understanding of the obstacles faced by them would address this in a more timely, appropriate and valuable way than the heavy hand of legislation. So there are plenty of questions with even more answers to be addressed.
It is not only the members of such diverse groups that would benefit from specific coaching, there is also the case that existing top teams and senior managers, need to be coached on how to bring out the talents and skills of the diverse team they lead. They need to understand why, culturally, some people may behave differently and to be able to discern when this is unrelated to ability or attitude, and then how to resolve this incongruence in a tactful and productive manner.
A typical and real example follows: a disabled individual whose role became redundant and was offered retraining at review several times, (which he refused) was indeed made redundant. The individual felt picked upon because he was disabled and chose to go to tribunal, which he lost. It’s possible that coaching put in place a long way back could have addressed this.
Either coaching for the manager to be able to see the problem from the employee’s view and possibly pick a different path through with the person, or by assigning a coach to the employee. My view is the coach would need to have been one who specialised in people with disabilities to be able to build the right trust and rapport. The eventual outcome may have been avoided (preferable for all the parties involved).
So, if you are a coach, deploy coaches or employ from this wonderful world, I believe there are many benefits to addressing diversity and to gaining a greater insight into the different perspectives.
Naked Leader Coaching Conference 2013 – Coaching for a diverse workforce
3 October 2013, Victory Services Club London
£149 for 1, £250 when booking 2 delegates together. Prices exc VAT.
Book before 31 July to enter draw for a free coaching session with David Taylor, Founder Naked Leader.