A few months back I was part of a team outing to Goa (gorgeous beach state of India) and it was the best trip I ever had with colleagues. Quite simply fantabulous. What made it so fun? I guess because everyone I cared for, loved, was part of the troop. It didn’t matter where we went, because wherever we went, it was a party. It didn’t matter what we did, because when we were together – it was a house on fire. We planned the whole outing together, what location, what budget, what kind of entertainment would suit everybody. Every concern was heard and accommodated, every need was considered (This was no mean feat considering there were a dozen of us). When I sit back and reflect, the vivid memory of how relaxed the whole experience was becomes even more significant. This trip to me was an excellent example of the joy of including others.
I am conscious of the fact as I relate this example is that inclusion comes easy when you truly like, relate and connect with others. What is more difficult to achieve is ‘embracing different’.
Another story I would like to share is around the circumstances preceding my joining Schneider (which weren’t the happiest). My former organization got acquired and for several reasons I chose to leave. For those of us who have ever been part of such corporate additions / subtractions, the experience can be traumatic. While I still sometimes grapple to come to terms with my sense of loss, I am also very grateful for this experience. It gave me the opportunity to watch from very close quarters the impact of this phenomena called ‘Us vs. They’. The ‘Us vs. They’ phenomena is all about mental partitions and it inhibits us from appreciating context (very detrimental during change management). For example, in a M&A scenario there can be many legacy business decisions that did not work or show adequate business results. When one uses the lens of ‘Us vs. They’, the tendency is to write things off by saying – ‘They made bad decisions, leave it to Us to fix things’. While the intent may be positive, it doesn’t create a neutral inclusive space to explore casual agents, engage and truly address underlying issues.
I have now come to believe that every adversity gifts you a pair of lens. A lens to be able to view and appreciate things differently and I got to use this lens many times on becoming part of Schneider.
Schneider is one organization which has grown manifolds inorganically. I was lucky to be a distant observer one time in watching the organization make a bid to acquire another entity. What I am deeply grateful to my colleagues here is that through their conduct they showed me how things can be done differently – in a more conscious, open, sensitive manner. I remember asking one of my dearest colleague and friend here who was working on the integration project – So what’s been your biggest learning thus far?
He said, ‘You know we are in process of connecting with different colleagues across the globe who have worked in other integration projects to learn from them what we can do better’. This is one of the multiple small ways in which inclusion is practiced in Schneider. For me just the intent of including another’s learning, perspective, viewpoint in how we want to conduct ourselves was a liberating, refreshing thought.
So, what makes us such an ‘inclusive’ organization?
The easy answer would be, it is after all one of our core values (Embrace Different) but what makes us different is what we do, to embrace different.
My top picks are – We are willing to Listen deeply, We are willing to Accept and We are willing to Share.
Inclusion is not just about including diverse sets of people in workforce. Hiring different kinds of talent is just the first step. The intent behind inclusion is to build an ecosystem which nurtures different ideas to germinate, experiment and bring our creative best out. Inclusion is central to Innovation. As an innovation centered organization, we recognize that the price of exclusion is too high. (https://www.unfe.org/the-price-of-exclusion/). We believe in nurturing inclusiveness. Our philosophy of being inclusive is not just part of the organization’s language and behavior, it is what makes us Schneider.