Inclusive Decision Making In Action
So what is inclusive decision making (IDM) and why is it so important for allowing companies to be more productive and make better decisions?
There is increasing evidence that diverse teams make better and more innovative decisions due to diversity of thought, knowledge and experience. By introducing IDM you also reduce the impact of any individuals unconscious bias and also any wider group-think biases. It has also been increasingly shown that IDM can lead to increased retention and performance not only of the individual but also of the wider team. The employee feels valued and the organisation gains more perspectives and knowledge to solve tasks, make decisions and innovate.
Decisions mde using IDM are also more likely to be implemented across the organisation. For example actively including diversity groups in any gender pay gap (GPG) decisions it is likely to led to solutions that can genuinely turn the dial in your workplace. It is important to to note that to activate the critical competitive advantage of IDM a company needs not only a diverse workforce but that all members should be actively involved in the decision making process.
Consequently a company could have a low GPG but also have an inclusivity gap if the company has not committed to an organisational culture of IDM.
The inclusivity gap can be narrowed by an organisation committing, at the highest levels, to actively add diversity into the decision making process until it becomes normalized.
A culture of IDM does not develop overnight and needs five main actions;
Unconscious bias training for all hiring managers initially and then across the organisation. This needs to be supported by a mechanism for colleagues to 'call out' bias.
Role modelling of IDM and the calling out of biases from the highest levels.
Increase the breadth of active participants in decision making. For example in policy reviews, resource allocation, recruitment, project planning, day to day tasks and large decisions.
Increase transparency in decision making. It is important that colleagues understand three important questions; who, how and why. By adding a clarity lens to each decision colleagues are able to better understand decisions and buy into their resourcing and outcome.
Willingness to review and accept feedback. Increased transparency in decision making also allows for opportunities to review the effectiveness of the decision making group with the final outcome. This scrutiny process allows for better decision making going forward.
There are several barriers to the proper implementation of IDM that companies need to be aware of;
Technological barriers to collaboration - in order to allow diversity of thought a manager may need to look beyond their office location. This requires the correct hardware and software to support across office participation.
Software to track decision making processes and level of IDM. Companies such as Cloverpop aim to fill that technical gap.
Managers need to be better trained to deal with conflict. An increase number of decision makers can also expand the potential for disagreement. Poorly trained managers lack the skills to deescalated conflict and turn the situation into idea generation.
Recognizing all colleagues have the potential to support IDM. Junior colleagues, flexible workers, minorities, introverts, etc... - all of these people should be actively included in any decisions.
Closing the inclusivity gap and committing to IDM requires that diversity is an intrinsic part of the business decision making process. A culture change driven from the top, resourced to support managers and colleagues make better decisions, and a genuine commitment to provide opportunities to call out biases are all important tools to reduce the inclusivity gap.