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Navigating the landscape of inclusivity with Advita Patel

Lee shares some of his key takeaways from our latest Expert Insights session with special guest - Advita Patel
Lee Smith

27 Jan 2023
Employee Engagement, ED&I, Employee Experience

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For our latest webinar we were joined by inclusivity and internal comms expert Advita Patel, who shined a light on this hugely important topic and outlined how to ‘bake’ it into the employee lifecycle.

In a fascinating session Advita took us on a journey from the critical foundation of trust and how to guide senior leaders, through to the many opportunities presented at various stages of the employee journey and numerous pitfalls to avoid.

Advita began her session with a discussion about the nature of trust – why it’s important, how it’s changing and what exactly creates it.  

Diving into the latest data from the Edelman Trust Barometer, Advita outlined the four major ‘trust challenges’ we face right now – global economic anxieties, institutional imbalance, the mass-class divide and the battle for truth in the face of media proliferation.   

These factors are making it increasingly difficult to earn a position of trust. And yet businesses are now the sole institution seen as competent and ethical, so there is an expectation on us to act on societal issues and, in some cases, even step into the void left by governments, which are largely mistrusted. Those are big boots to fill!  

Advita then discussed the nature of trust, illustrated by the brilliant ‘trust equation’ model developed by David Maister and Charles H Green (The Trusted Advisor, 2000). This simple yet compelling model captures the essence of trust and provides a useful reminder of what exactly this slippery concept is! 

Put simply, the trust equation has four components:
Credibility – the words you use and how believable you are
+ Reliability – your actions and how dependable they are 
+ Intimacy – your emotions and how safe people feel sharing information with you
÷ Self orientation – your motives and how much you focus on others rather than yourself

It’s a great tool for deconstructing trust and developing the behaviours needed to build it. Indeed, it’s a model we discuss in more depth in our EX Space Bitesize session ‘Becoming a trusted advisor’ (available to practitioner and professional members)
Turning to the employee lifecycle, Advita then walked us through the various stages – attraction, recruitment, onboarding, development, retention, separation – and identified numerous ways in which organisations can be more inclusive.

From the words you use in job advertisements and the location of that advertising, to the recruitment process itself; from the way you induct new starters, through to exit, there are multiple opportunities to celebrate diversity and be more inclusive.      
The final part of the discussion was focused on pitfalls to avoid. Many of these relate to the way inclusivity is implemented – for example, a lack of feedback opportunities, making assumptions, inconsistency and not coaching line managers.

As Advita says, personalisation can create a far more inclusive employee experience – and that all starts with knowing the individual.  

Talking to Advita, it struck us that senior leaders often have the right intentions when it comes to inclusivity – they want to do the right thing but very often they’re scared of putting a foot wrong, upsetting someone or being seen to favour one group over another.      

A key takeaway is that DEI doesn’t have to be some big, scary initiative – often it makes sense to start small, identify the areas where you could or should be doing better, or which areas offer the greatest potential impact...and just get stuck in!  

If you subscribe to the view, like us, that EX is all about demonstrating empathy, being human-centric and genuinely focusing on the individual employee, whoever they are, then you can see that inclusivity and EX go hand in hand.     
About Advita
Advita Patel is the founder of CommsRebel, a communications and employee experience consultancy based in Manchester, co-founder of 'A Leader Like Me', a global consultancy supporting organisations to be more inclusive, and is a co-host on two award-winning podcasts, CalmEdgedRebels and A Leader Like Me, Amplifying Diverse Voices. 

She is President-Elect of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations for 2024 and previously chaired the CIPR’s Inside Group for internal communicators.  

She is a certified confidence coach, experienced speaker, and has recently published her first book, which she co-authored with Priya Bates, 'Building a Culture of Inclusivity', effective internal communication for diversity, equity and inclusion'.

Members of The EX Space can receive 20% discount on Advita's book when purchasing through Kogan Page - just use code CommsRebel at the checkout.

Rewatch the webinar, download the slides, access a free chapter from the book and use 'A user guide to me' (tool mentioned during the webinar), via our Webinar archive page.