An inclusive workplace has a very positive effect on general employee wellbeing. Everyone wants to feel valued and heard at work, so an environment that encourages all employees to contribute is one that encourages a happy workforce. In this careers article, CGI member Claire Ross, Director Consulting Services in our Scotland business unit, shares how our inclusive culture at CGI benefits us all in a number of ways.
Everyone wants to feel that their opinion matters, and an inclusive workplace, where everyone feels heard and comfortable expressing their views, creates happier employees.
In fact, an inclusive culture is a major contributor to general employee well-being. There are many things that go into cultivating happy and healthy employees both in and out of work, but one of the most powerful is fostering an environment in which every person feels valued, recognised and appreciated for what they bring to the company.
A recent experience really highlighted the benefit of inclusion for me
I recently took part in a new working initiative alongside over a hundred CGI members, where we all worked on our clients’ premises on an intensive program of work. We wanted to change how we were working and organise ourselves into small “squads” who worked faster and more accurately.
To do this, we had to gain our client’s trust. Alongside project work, we made sure that we also ran team events with our client – for example, for Diwali, we all dressed up in national dress and shared food, and on International Women’s Day we ran a panel and networking event. We also got together for Christmas celebrations.
Getting everyone together socially, and in ways that allowed us all to understand more about each other and each others’ cultures, had the great effect of creating a trusting workplace where we all worked together effectively.
In my experience, communication is key to promoting inclusion
I am collaborative in my leadership style, so I share progress and upcoming pressures or changes with my team to make sure everyone is included at every step of the way.
As a quiet person myself who may not be the first to volunteer my views in a large group, I always look out for those who haven’t contributed yet, knowing they may just need some prompting to speak up. I really want to know what everyone thinks, not just a select few.
I also use interactive tools wherever possible. Some people are more comfortable writing their views than speaking out. In some cases during team meetings or retrospectives, I use software to allow people to write down what they think and vote on suggestions. This means everyone is heard, not just those who have the loudest voices.
Finally, I think one of the most important steps to creating an inclusive culture is to really get to know each other. I find having fun and being social together helps us all feel comfortable, and that leads to more productive and enjoyable work.
Driving inclusion at CGI
A number of years ago, our UK President Tara McGeehan used our UK CGI Annual Tour event to encourage us to bring our ‘whole selves’ to work. This really resonated with me. I knew first-hand that not everyone’s ideas and opinions were being heard at the time, because I was one of the people who held back. Tara’s directive led to a fantastic cultural change at CGI around diversity, equity and inclusion.
One of the ways we are ensuring that all employees – regardless of background or status – feel comfortable speaking up, is by creating communities for minority groups. These are both for sharing common needs and issues, and also as a means for our leaders to hear what is important to each group. We now have communities for LGBT+, Women, Parents, Disabilities, BAME and Neuro-Diverse individuals.
We also take specific actions to promote inclusion across the company. For instance, it is known that women often exclude themselves from promotion, so we hold special workshops for women seeking promotion. We have similarly run events to raise awareness of issues that affect our employees and clients such as neurodiversity, menopause and mental health.
CGI’s values guide how all of its members behave, and one of our core values is ‘respect’: “In all we do, we are respectful of our fellow members, clients, business partners and competitors. As a global company, we recognise the richness that diversity brings to the company and welcome this diversity while embracing the overall CGI business culture.”
This is ingrained in the way our 77,000 members around the world work, and highlights how seriously we take inclusion as a company.
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