A quick look at Deloitte’s Irish website and you will see it says “it’s their people who make it succeed”. Torunn Dahl, head of employee relations, inclusion and wellbeing with the company says: “Deloitte’s purpose is to make an impact that matters for our clients, people and society. Having a culture with real diversity of thought is the only way we will succeed in coming up with different solutions required by our clients.”
She adds: "An inclusive culture is necessary to attract the best people to Deloitte and to ensure they are set up to succeed and contribute their insights."
With companies gaining greater insight into how creating an inclusive culture can drive momentum of diversity programming and therefore productivity. what are some of the ways in which Deloitte aims to do this?
“A few of the things we have focused on in recent years has been promoting a culture of inclusive people leadership and enhancing our approach to agile working to the benefit of everyone at Deloitte,” says Dahl. “All of our senior leaders have attended inclusive leadership workshops, which are essentially facilitated conversations around the leadership behaviours we expect and the risks of allowing unconscious biases to influence our decisions. We also provide 360 degree feedback for our leaders and review each year whether the questions being asked are driving the right culture.”
Chronic workplace stress is on the rise among Irish workers, resulting in burnout, recently recognised by the World Health Organisation as a legitimate medical condition. Is this something that would fall under the remit of an inclusive workplace environment?
‘Time Out policy’
“From an agile working perspective, we launched a new ‘Time Out’ policy in the last year whereby anyone at Deloitte with a year’s service can apply for a month’s unpaid leave to pursue a personal interest or just to unplug and take an extended break from work,” says Dahl.
With many practical approaches in place within Deloitte, Dahl says the company also adopts creative strategies to support diversity and inclusion.
“We have also run two really innovative projects using photography to explore in more depth the challenges parents face juggling families and careers, as well as exploring the challenges people from other countries face working and integrating into an Irish work environment. The visual impact of these PhotoVoice projects enabled us to change the dialogue around inclusion as it engaged people at an emotional level.”
Most employers now understand that nurturing a diverse and inclusive environment for employees can see a sharp rise in productivity, but what does Dahl believe are some of the direct benefits of this type of environment for employees?
“The number one benefit is that people can express and be themselves more fully at work, as the very nature of the diversity means there is no longer ‘one type’ of person, with people expending energy trying to conform to that mould,” says Dahl.
“Another benefit is that it makes the workplace a more interesting and stimulating place to work. Working with people who have contrasting opinions or ideas challenges us to be better and look at solutions in different ways, from different angles. While sometimes this is challenging for people, we strongly believe that it stretches people and develops their critical thinking skills.”
Does being part of a such diverse and inclusive company have direct impact on Dahl herself?
“Earlier this year, I participated in a research project at Deloitte, looking at the challenges experienced by parents juggling family responsibilities with career progression. While some of the stories shared as part of that project made for tough reading for our executive group, our CEO recognised the importance of communicating the full catalogue of stories in the report completely, not just internally but also with our clients, who are also grappling with similar challenges. I was very proud to work for Deloitte that day.”