On a Summer day in June, Deloitte senior leaders gathered at the fourth bi-annual Impact Summit with one goal on the agenda: To make inclusive leadership a key priority, adding this to the list of shared values in Deloitte. Outside, the temperatures were high – and so were the ambitions inside the conference room:
“In 2024 we have set extremely ambitious goals. We want to be the undisputed leader when it comes to brand position and growth. But to be number one, we need diversity of thought,” CEO Anders Dons said.
‘Trust’ is a keyword in inclusive leadership, and Google has found, that trust is higher in teams that are performing well. That is exactly why Deloitte needs to focus on inclusive leadership, Camilla Kruse, national talent leader, explains:
“If we want to create the high performing teams, it is crucial to create an atmosphere where you can ask silly questions and where new ideas are welcome – whether they are good or not. We need to create strong bonds in our teams and to function socially. Having the skills to be inclusive and respectful towards differences will help this process.”
In a recent survey, employees at more than 1,700 companies in eight countries across a variety of industries and company sizes were asked about their perceptions of diversity at the management level. Companies that reported above-average diversity on their management teams also reported innovation revenue that was 19 percentage points higher than that of companies with below-average leadership diversity — 45 per cent of total revenue versus just 26 per cent.
Play it together
Of course, inclusive leadership is not created overnight. So, to kick-start the process that Summer day in June, all leaders participated in a game created to test their abilities to lead under difficult circumstances. They were asked to imagine themselves leading a team with members located both in North America, Asia and Europe. Not a hard thing to imagine in today’s globally connected world – but a challenging leadership skill to practice.
“Today we are going to challenge each other in terms of how we act as leaders and how we perceive other people. Therefore, we are working in simulations, playing games to challenge each other and reflect on the decisions we make as leaders and the effect they have,” Camilla Kruse said.
“We do this to enable leaders with formal leadership roles to lead and execute our national talent priorities, to strengthen our ability to drive team leadership and to lead through others with an inclusive leadership approach. It is about performing and getting a good start when we are starting up new teams.”
A recent Deloitte engagement survey shows, that 69 per cent of Deloitte employees can see themselves working in Deloitte two years from now. The key engagement drivers are a positive work environment, meaningful work, growth opportunities, trust in leadership and supportive management. The number is high – but improvements are needed, Camilla Kruse says:
“In order to develop our talents from the inside we need to retain them. This is where inclusive leadership has a key role to play.”
The survey also shows that 87 per cent of the employees feel they work in a fair, inclusive and diverse environment, while 92 per cent report enjoying working in small, empowered teams.
“I am also glad to see that we score high in creating an experience of an inclusive culture and a strong team culture. However, this does not mean, that we succeeded on the diversity agenda yet,” Camilla Kruse adds.
“We are still facing many challenges. Last year, expats only composed 2.6 per cent of our staff in Denmark, and the share of women holding senior management positions only made up 36 per cent, just to name a few examples.”
“A lot has changed the last five years”
Playing out the roles as inclusive leaders made room for reflection among the Deloitte leaders. Here are some of the take home points that were shared:
“We are going to be a totally different company in a few years. We need strategics, creatives, human capital people ect., and they are all very different. We cannot afford to view things through our own glasses, which is easy to fall back to, especially under pressure. To be inclusive is simply to be a good leader, and the equity partnership needs to lead the way.”
– Deloitte leader
“We have to take leadership development seriously. It is like everything else; it takes 10.000 hours before you are good at it. We need consistency, and that is why the shared values are good.”
– Deloitte leader
“Five years ago, I felt the business had not changed in a hundred years. Everyone was supposed to look like their partner. But a lot has changed the last five years, and today shows that we all know the direction. But there is still a lot to be done, and we still need to be more inclusive with regards to the inputs we receive from our people.”
– Deloitte leader
Camilla Kruse and the rest of the Executive Team expects a successful inclusive culture to have three primary effects; on clients, on talents and on society.
“Clients will benefit from our diverse teams that provide new solutions to their problems. Talents want to work for a company where respect, inclusion and diversity are key priorities. And society will in general benefit from companies taking responsibility for securing diversity and inclusion,” Camilla Kruse says.