June 13, 2023 · Consulting
Written by: Tom Andersson
“We’ve made progress, but we are far from done”. This is one way to summarise the text on gender equality that Netlight published on Cinode’s blog last year. The text reflected on the work we at Netlight have done to counter binary gender imbalance, and ended with an outlook that while we are proud of the progress made, the work has only just begun – and that looking at equality solely from a gender perspective doesn’t capture the complexity of the topic. So, one year down the line, where are we now?
Well, for one, we have broadened our scope. Inspired by the continuous directed effort that our work with gender equality has shown makes a tangible difference in achieving results, we knew we needed a framing – an agenda – for not just equality, but for all aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
In the autumn of 2022, we gathered a total of 1500 Netlighters in Copenhagen and Berlin to celebrate the launch of our new long-term agenda for DEI, named Kaleidoscope. We spent the weekend diving into the subject via workshops, roleplaying, our own DEI boardgame … all in order to create a broad and deepened understanding of DEI throughout Netlight to create a solid basis for the work going forward. Writing a strategy can be done by anyone, but it is in broad implementation that we feel we have the opportunity to create the real change.
Kaleidoscope, like our equality work before it, rests on the fact that for a service organisation that works with solving complex, real-world problems for a wide set of clients, having a multi-faceted culture where every individual feels valued and able to contribute with their whole self is a key success factor. DEI is business critical.
From working with equality over many years, we know that there are no quick fixes; this is an ongoing process, we will never be “done”. Explicitly stating that DEI is business critical is staking out a direction. Moving in that direction means daring to look at ourselves – at our structures, our processes – and finding out where we need to improve. And implementing those improvements, big and small.
Netlight’s organisational structure of self-management, role-modelling, and relationships lends itself well to DEI, but it still requires us to continuously educate and re-align ourselves to ensure we live up to our own expectations internally. We have focused on helping our learning and development team to integrate DEI into our training programmes, educating recruiters, improving our interview process, and on empowering individual Netlighters to make use of the organic network organisation to drive DEI topics.
Kaleidoscope talks about the relationship between business and DEI as a matter of ‘what’ and ‘how’: what is business critical, and how can DEI support it? And this is a core concept, that our work with DEI is a matter of how we do business. The topic of “business critical” is itself a broad one, there are so many things we do at Netlight that are critical for our business: how we find clients and engagements, who we employ, how we support each other, how we deliver as consultants, how our offices work. But the core of our business is the consultancy service we provide.
For us to be successful in helping our clients, we must understand and empathise with their needs as well as the needs of their customers. We must be creative, communicative, and understandable. We must recruit the best people and help them grow. This means we have to be diverse to ensure we have the right perspectives; we have to be inclusive to ensure everyone – at Netlight and at the client – has the feeling they and their contribution matters; and we have to be able to give every Netlighter the opportunity to develop and flourish from where they are. Kaleidoscope puts it into perspective: actively working with how DEI can support our business will make our business stronger.
Netlight is a consultancy company, everything we do is for someone. A client, user, a team member, a future colleague. There are possibilities to heighten the delivery in any project by bearing DEI in mind. It can be something as simple as using English if there’s even the slightest chance that someone who doesn’t speak your language might want to be part of the conversation. Or making sure that the topics around the lunch table are broad enough for everyone to feel invited to contribute. Or asking Netlighters for DEI perspectives before being part of a recruitment process at the client. As consultants we can integrate DEI into our daily lives in a very natural way and use that to make life better for our clients and their users.
Netlight strives to be a truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive organisation. A creative salad bowl and a safe space where our uniqueness is embraced, our differences celebrated, and where all Netlighters experience a sense of belonging. One year down the line, we have a clear framing via the Kaleidoscope agenda which allows us to move in that direction, to use our strengths as an organisation to integrate DEI into our structures as well as our daily work. Our continuous work with implementing DEI in topics big and small ensures that we as an organisation are able to understand and adapt to the needs of those we are in service of. We will continue to make progress, but we will never be done.
Gästbloggare - Tom Andersson, Partner på Netlight
Gästbloggare - Tom Andersson, Partner på Netlight
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