Rolls-Royce wanted a way to talk about diversity and inclusion on a global scale, but diversity is always contextual: it tends to be most important when an individual finds themself in the minority. So, we spoke to employees around the world to hear their interpretation of diversity and inclusion, and why it’s important at Rolls-Royce to generate a diversity narrative that’s now forming the backbone of D&I communications throughout 2020.
Rolls-Royce does a lot of work in the field of diversity and inclusion, with employee resource groups established in most regions and stories shared through the group’s internal channels – including Our World, the employee magazine. However, following an incident where employees took to Yammer to ask why it was fair that their site was marking International Women’s Day, it became clear that there are pockets of disengagement with inclusion.
Some individuals did not understand why supporting under-represented communities is so important and what the ultimate aim of diversity and inclusion actually is – which is to enable everyone to perform at their best.
We began with desk research, analysing a cross-section of articles and employee messages on the topic of diversity and inclusion. The team had published a strong mix of stories on a range of topics, including a series of emotionally laden ‘People Like Me’ profiles which were particularly powerful. However, we found that the missing piece was the ‘so what?’ What was the benefit of diversity and inclusion to Rolls-Royce specifically?
To surface this ‘why’, we spoke to almost thirty different people from all across the business who represented various roles and levels of seniority. We aimed to understand their perspective on diversity and inclusion and hear why they felt it was so important to their business. Though this process, we found their pursuit of excellence, quality and top-notch customer service was a real motivating factor. When applied to diversity and inclusion, it became clear that people could only fully dedicate themselves to the pursuit of excellence when they were free of any other burden. We used this insight to generate a diversity narrative, that sets out the full story of diversity in the context of Rolls-Royce.
Typically for large organisations, this connection between inclusion and performance was understood less well by senior leaders. Many employees said they felt a strong sense of community and inclusion at a peer-to-peer level but saw less visible diversity further up the business.
We packaged this narrative in the form of a thought-leadership document for senior leaders at Rolls-Royce, to give them a reason to believe in the power of diversity and the importance of inclusion. Now that consistent narrative is being cascaded throughout the business in a variety of ways – including videos, podcasts and employee roadshows.