Case Study: The Power of Unit-specific D&I objectives and action plans

Going their own way has led one global business sector of a blue-chip Corporation to the highest levels of D&I energy and engagement. Their unit-specific approaches to action-planning combined with a globally compatible storyline provided both coherence and freedom to tailor approaches. They became best practice within their Industry.

High-level objectives and ambitions on the global corporate level are good for setting priorities in large organisations. But often times, large country organisations or specific business arms feel that their situation and needs are not well reflected by the overarching framework. In the case we talk about here, this had even led to concrete resistance, if not boycott. We were called to help them find a way that would both resonate in their business and cultural environment and support the given corporate agenda. Our analysis revealed that a specific storyline was needed that was aligned with the business model that differed from the parent and sister companies. Also, we recommended to include more diversity dimensions in addition to the narrow focus prescribed by the global headquarter. Finally, the new storyline focused on the contributions of D&I to business priorities whereas it positioned ‘numbers’ as a way to measure progress rather than a means to an end. A change model and a set of related implementation tools completed what was needed to hit the road.

After one initial workshop with the Board of Managing Directors, D&I sessions were offered for leadership teams that managed concrete units, i.e. one function in a region. Skipping one level in the cascade had several positive effects: A lead competition in the senior management teams, a manageable size of the unit and easy access to the teams that meet regularly face-to-face. It also allowed to tailor some of the content to the given region, while global entity workshops often remain more general. The workshops were not mandatory nor did the managers have D&I objectives on their scorecards. Hence, a strong value proposition was required to ensure outreach in the organisation.

Once a few workshops had been successfully completed, the message quickly spread that the sessions provided robust learning about D&I as a value-chain and as a contribution to the business. Equally important were the adaptation of the context for KPIs (vs. targets) and the practical SWOT-based planning that was facilitated for the specific entity in question. The ideal combination of critical success factors allowed the company to cover most of their global organisation in a relatively short period of time. R&D teams, commercial teams, supply chain and most global functions participated from all world regions. Resulting actions were fed back to the Global steering committee and new pockets of excellence emerged.

For more information on success factors for the global implementation of D&I, please contact our office