Building inclusive cultures

Written by
Changeboard Team

23 Jul 2013

23 Jul 2013 • by Changeboard Team

State Street Bank: promoting authentic leadership

Being black, female and a single mother, I could easily fit into many different groups, yet I never consider any of these aspects when I think what I can bring to an organisation. I am as career-minded and business-focused as the person sitting next to me – I would hate to think that my creativity, personality, adaptability and relationship building skills were lost because I was put in a box.

HR plays a crucial role in helping the organisation develop its intellectual understanding of the business case for diversity and inclusion. We need to help our business leaders move beyond the legal and moral case. For long-lasting, organisational culture our senior leaders need to be authentic in understanding, communicating and role modelling the business case for diversity.

Use tools to target

In 2011 we launched two modules to boost employee engagement and our inclusive culture – an e-learning programme targeted at the wider employee base and an unconscious bias webinar targeted at middle managers. These focus on overcoming challenges in the workplace and changing behaviours to generate business results. The unconscious bias modules are mandatory for our talent acquisition partners, hiring managers and executive members of our promotion committees.

There is no single method of measuring the effect of investing in diversity but you can combine several. Our engagement survey allows us to assess commitment and discretionary effort. With our employee networks we regularly measure effectiveness and impact in four key areas: career, community, commerce and culture.

Top tips

  • Understand the business you are in, where you are now and where it is heading 
  • Develop your diversity strategy to fit with the organisation’s long-term goal
  • Remember to celebrate the small wins – it helps to look back and see how far you have come.

Clifford Chance: raising aspirations

Diversity is important to our clients, who demand people who bring all their experience to the table. We want to recruit people they can relate to. Clients also want to know what we are doing from a diversity perspective when we pitch for business. We have a responsibility to do what's right and encourage this from our suppliers, too. 

While we continue to support the key diversity strands – gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, age, religion and belief – we have added social mobility programmes to our agenda. Raising aspirations across social backgrounds will widen access to the profession.

The role of HR and proactive initiatives

Diversity is embedded in our business principles and recognised by our leaders as critical to our success. In HR, our role in developing the business case is to see it within the context of the organisation’s people agenda, identifying the value diversity creates from a talent perspective, that is reflective of workforce demographics and aligned to research on high performance. We support the business in achieving its people objectives, ensuring diversity translates into every aspect of the employee cycle beyond policy and process and into action and impact.

Our diversity manager works closely with the London Diversity Group, comprising partners, lawyers and business services staff, to drive advocacy for all diversity and inclusion activity. HR works in tandem with this group to deliver and fully embed diversity into policy and process.

We operate broad talent attraction programmes, source candidates that reflect our international footprint and reach out to under-represented groups. We have also trained hiring managers to follow objective selection techniques and understand how diversity affects selection.

How diversity pays off

ROI can be demonstrated in many ways, from new business leads in markets or geographies in which we are developing, to faster and more competitive business in these areas. These hires come with a deep cultural understanding, able to speak local languages and overcome barriers to integration. There is a richness of thinking and perspective or advice that comes from a diverse group of minds. Client feedback suggests this is valued and appreciated, while academic research indicates that high performing teams are usually heterogeneous. 

Tips for heads of resourcing

  • Include a diversity focus in all strategic and operational resourcing activity
  • Make diversity integral to your youth talent programmes as feeder programmes to vacation schemes, internships and graduate recruitment
  • Adopt a future focus to attract and hire the best talent. Diversity is a key business driver now and will grow in the future.  

Pauline Miller

Pauline Millervice-president and head of global inclusion – EMEA, State Street Corporation

Pauline is focused on facilitating change and building an engaged and inclusive culture across all business areas. 


Abbas Jaffer

Abbas Jaffirinterim head of resourcing, Clifford Chance 

Abbas was previously head of diversity & resourcing at  Morgan Stanley.