EngagementDiversity & InclusionMission INCLUDE: Rupal Kantaria

Mission INCLUDE: Rupal Kantaria

We talked to Rupal Kantaria, co-founder of Mission INCLUDE and Strategic Advisor for Social Impact at Oliver Wyman, about inclusion and diversity in the workplace, and what Mission INCLUDE is doing to address this.

Rupal Kantaria

What does the term inclusion and diversion mean to you?

Inclusion and diversity (I&D) is often defined as valuing every individual to give them equal opportunities to thrive. This manifests through a company’s culture, so for me it’s powerful to define not just what inclusion and diversity are, but how they should feel: collaborativevibrantpositive, empathetic, caring and kind.

In the corporate world, we often use terms that are non-empathetic, labelling things rather than feelings. For us to be able to build true I&D, we need to be comfortable in thinking and talking in more human terms.

For example, what organisations are seeing at exit interviews, when they lose talented and diverse candidates, is seldom that their employees faced great injustices, but that the sense of belonging was missing.

Could you explain Mission INCLUDE?

Mission INCLUDE exists because while there is great work happening within the inclusion space, the efforts remain in silos – such as gender or race – which can sometimes alienate those outside of the silos, including those who are in the majority, and so can themselves create feelings of exclusion. So instead of focusing on diversity labels, Mission INCLUDE focuses on the individual and everything that makes them unique.

Mission INCLUDE’s activities fall within three pillars: individual mentoring, reverse mentoring, and for the companies involved the opportunity to share best practice and network. These work to create more empathetic leaders and organisations where people feel truly included.

Do you think anything gets overlooked, things that need to change in the space or in Mission INCLUDE?

I&D is still seen as an additional part of HR, but it’s not viewed as a living, breathing part of someone’s job. Every interaction you have, regardless of your role, can affect someone else and how they’re feeling. If many people are feeling excluded or bullied, this will clearly impact the company’s ability to do business.

The impact of topics such as technology, digital, and Brexit are at the top of CEOs’ agendas. But to solve these challenges you need diversity in the workforce, bringing new ideas and ways of working, and to attract this talent you need empathetic leaders. This is why I&D should be seen by leaders as essential to their business.

“I&D is still seen as an additional part of HR, but it’s not viewed as a living, breathing part of someone’s job. Every interaction you have, regardless of your role, can affect someone else and how they’re feeling.”

How can reverse mentoring help?

Reverse mentoring is being practiced in many different formats, but for Mission INCLUDE it is a session where junior and senior colleagues together share stories about feeling excluded, and builds empathy and understanding. Suddenly, it doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO of a company because you’re sharing a story of when you were vulnerable, shedding organizational constructs around what you represent. This connects you to the other people in the room, and it’s really powerful.

After reverse mentoring, senior leaders who often say they initially had no idea of what others go through, walk away with an understanding of the microaggressions other people face and how to spot and be mindful of them going forward.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO of a company because you’re sharing a story of when you were vulnerable, shedding organizational constructs around what you represent.”

In an ideal world, what would you like to see happen within this space, how can I&D become a vocal part of this organisation?

There are a lot of strides to be made around legislation and policy. For example, if you look at what gender pay gap reporting has done, it has created a huge amount of focus and attention on gender inequality. So the government has a role to play in shining the spotlight on other diversity characteristics where there may be pay gaps or lack of representation at senior levels.

In an ideal world, I would like to see the government and organisations coming together to create change. At the moment, we’re not getting enough guidance and transparency on how we should be achieving the equalisation in the workplace that the government wants to see.

Although we’re seeing more and more momentum behind creating inclusive and diverse workplaces, we need to ensure this isn’t only done through siloed diversity programmes, and instead switch our attentions to people as individuals.

Oliver Wyman is the founding partner to Mission INCLUDE which is designed and delivered by Moving Ahead.  

Oliver Wyman is a global leader in management consulting that combines deep industry knowledge with specialized expertise in strategy, operations, risk management, and organization transformation.

Moving Ahead is a social impact organisation.  It specialises in mentoring, learning development, diversity and inclusion, designing and delivering practical solutions that help organisations create connected, empathetic, inclusive and high-performance cultures.  Moving Ahead is bringing its expertise and tried and tested methodologies in cross-company mentoring to Mission INCLUDE, having already supported more than 10,000 mentors and mentees. 

To get your organisation involved in Mission INCLUDE for 2019 email pauline@moving-ahead.org  

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