Invest in and support people managers

Accountability and the 'tone from the top' are critical to driving lasting change although top-down approaches alone drive compliance, not commitment. As much time and resource must be invested in mid-level people managers to embed inclusion.

Employer recommendations

➖Create a business case for D&I that people managers engage with and buy-in to, which is linked to the mission and values of the organisation and underpinned by the way performance is assessed. Make the stakes clear — how does a manager's personal success hinge on their ability to support the D&I strategy and related initiatives? Help people managers to understand their stake in D&I and why they should make an investment.

Reframe D&I so people managers genuinely engage rather than viewing D&I or Inclusive Leadership as just  'another thing to do' or a Friday afternoon 'activity'. Frame D&I so that it is considered an enabler for people manager's individual and team performance, critical to driving innovation, engagement and retention of their best talent.

➖Support people managers to foster inclusion within their teams by involving all employees in inclusion work so that all colleagues understand their role in building inclusive workplaces. Set clear standards of behaviour for inclusion, treating all colleagues with dignity and respect, and empowering employees to challenge exclusionary behaviour.

➖Provide tools and incentivise people managers to educate their teams using tools such as this one from PwC: Blind Spots Video Discussion guide.

➖Shift from 'basic buy in' to true accountability by incentivisiting and measuring people on inclusion:

  • Include key performance indicators that support D&I in performance management systems
  • Outline the expectations of middle managers regarding their role in D&I initiatives
  • Identify the behaviors that demonstrate alignment with D&I initiatives
  • Reward people managers for excellent performance either with financial rewards like stock options and salary increases or bonuses and/or non financial rewards like recognition, praise, awards, and special perks, which send a public message.

➖Ensure that the structures related to hiring, talent assessment, promotions, succession planning, and development goals that people managers use to evaluate candidates and employees are clear, objective and unambiguous.

Translate the organisation wide D&I strategy and words of senior leaders into easy-to-understand, tangible actions. Establish specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) metrics for every objective. Then equip and encourage people managers to set specific, achievable goals for their teams that align to the organisation's overall D&I goals and strategy.

Make it OK to be curious and ask questions. End the awkward.

➖Build a people manager community. Google has built a community of manager peers to help them teach and learn from one another. There are official manager communities, but also unofficial groups that have self-organised. Both are great forums for managers to question, advise, and even vent to their fellow managers.

➖Support managers with inclusive language guides and tips. See the Buffer guide to Inclusive Language in Tech, the Monzo Tone of Voice or the 'Inclusive Language Guide for Tech Companies and Startups'.

Prompt people managers to host inclusive meetings by providing them with resources. Coop has published guides on how to host inclusive meetings that can be downloaded in poster format. There are 7 guidelines that aim to help people to collaborate effectively, respectfully and inclusively.

💡Sainsbury’s case study: 'Sainsbury’s uses Yammer and internal communication channels to share progress and remind colleagues of key events from the diversity calendar. Case studies, articles and videos also inspire and engage colleagues. For example, during Ramadan, the company shared case studies with colleagues, explaining why people fast during this period and answering any questions. “We want to end the awkwardness and anxiety that colleagues sometimes experience when discussing diversity, encouraging them not to make assumptions but instead to be curious and really get to know each other. In the last 12 months we’ve seen a significant increase in focus, momentum and attention and more conversations happening right across our organisation', case study shared in 'Delivering Diversity: Race and ethnicity in the management pipeline', CMI.

Share with people managers The Business In The Community 'Let's Talk About Race' pocket guide. This guide aims support people to lead conversations about race and ethnicity, discrimination, diversity, and inclusion and spark new conversations which would not have happened otherwise.

'A vast majority of companies say managers have been expected to do more people management and DEI work over the past two years, but relatively few are training managers to meet these new demands or recognizing people management and DEI efforts in managers’ performance reviews. This disconnect is apparent in the way managers show up—only about half of women say their manager regularly encourages respectful behaviour on their team, and less than half say their manager shows interest in their career and helps them manage their workload. Companies urgently need to close this gap—manager support is deeply important to all employees, and it’s one of the top three factors women consider when deciding whether to join or stay with a company'. Women in the Workplace: 2022, LeanIn

Further information