17 May 2020 By Alison Maitland
‘WE WILL get through this together, but only if we stick together, so please be strong and be kind.’ This was one of the messages that have elevated Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, to the widely conferred status of one of the world’s best leaders during the Covid-19 crisis.
The pandemic has highlighted the gulf between good and bad leadership, and the difference it makes, in this case to people’s very survival. The worst examples have attracted a lot of comment already. I was curious to explore what exactly has been so effective about Ardern, and another leader who has won praise for his handling of the crisis in very different circumstances, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Alongside decisiveness, competence and clarity, both have demonstrated many aspects of inclusive leadership. Inclusion is not a nice-to-have, but is essential to business results. In our book INdivisible, Rebekah Steele and I show how increased inclusion is linked to Continue reading
29 April 2020 What can leaders learn from the Covid-19 crisis about how to make organisations more human in the digital age? I offer three answers to build and sustain inclusive work environments in this article for the Octave Programme’s web magazine. You can read this and other pieces written by me and my co-author Rebekah Steele about our book INdivisible here.
11 April 2020 I was interviewed by Annette Young for France 24’s The 51 Per Cent show, which focuses on women’s rights and equality. I talked with her in the 10 April edition about how we can use the mass shift to virtual working during the pandemic to create fairer, more inclusive work environments. (The short interview starts at 6:30 minutes into show).
7 April 2020 I was interviewed this month by The Conference Board Europe’s Marion Devine about INdivisible, the new book on inclusion that I’ve co-written with Rebekah Steele. You can listen to, and download, the 30-minute podcast here.
We discuss why organisations must build and sustain inclusion if they are to respond effectively to disruptive global challenges, what’s held up progress to date, and how our new, comprehensive approach has parallels with the whole-system, global response needed to tackle the Coronavirus pandemic.
Building and sustaining inclusive organisations is more important than ever in these very challenging times. In a chapter called ‘The Power of Everyone‘ for the 2020 BBVA book, Work in the Age of Data, I explain why inclusive systems and behaviour help people and organisations adapt to the new realities of the business world and working life. Read the article here. The book and article are available free as part of BBVA’s OpenMind project.
2 December 2019 By Alison Maitland
Understanding your impact as a leader helps you to empower other people more effectively. It is achieved, partly at least, by connecting with your heart, not just your head.
Take the example of Michelle Obama, who treated her role as First Lady of the United States very seriously indeed. In her memoir, Becoming, she relates how she connected with Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, an outstanding all-girls’ school in London
Cover of ‘Becoming’
where 90% of students were from ethnic minorities. She delivered an emotional speech, wrote them letters of encouragement, took a group to Oxford University and welcomed some of them to the White House.
The impact of her interventions was studied by Simon Burgess, an economist at Bristol University. Most of the evidence he gathered showed that the inspiration the girls gained from interacting with the First Lady translated into substantially higher performance in their GCSE exams. Continue reading
16 Sept 2019 By Alison Maitland
One news item that briefly stole headlines from Brexit in the UK during August was a proposal for the state pension age to be increased from 65 to 75 within 15 years. The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), a think tank headed by Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith, said this would ensure the ‘benefit’ of a state pension continued.
The proposal, which caused alarm in many quarters, set me thinking again about this whole issue. Policies on ageing, retirement and pensions must be imaginative, fit for the future workforce, and sensitive to differences between people. What responses are within our grasp, as employers and individuals? Continue reading
23 July 1019
By Alison Maitland
Men who advocate for gender equality are often described as ‘ambassadors’ or ‘allies’, which to me suggests their role is a supportive one, while women should do most of the work. It’s true that women have largely led the fight up till now. But I believe we’ve entered a new phase where male advocates recognise they have to drive change, not just cheer from the sidelines.
There have been significant advances in getting men on board for equality in recent years, the most prominent being the UN’s global #heforshe solidarity campaign. In business, the Male Champions of Change (MCC) movement, founded by Elizabeth Broderick, started with a group of male CEOs in Australia and has been making wider waves. Their strategy is ‘to shift the systems that perpetuate and entrench inequality by redefining men’s role in taking action and supporting influential leaders to step up alongside women’. As well as the MCC, there’s also the well-established Catalyst workplace project, Men Advocating Real Change.
There are many reasons why men’s leadership is needed for equality. Continue reading
17 May 2019
By Alison Maitland
In divided times, there is cause for hope in initiatives that aim to bridge differences, whether at work, at home or in society. One such initiative is More in Common, a project that has brought together residents of Lambeth, in south London, where nearly 79% voted for Britain to remain in the EU, and Boston, in Lincolnshire, where nearly 76% voted for Brexit.
There are lessons here for how we build connections and cultivate better relationships at work, by making the most of our mix of life experiences and perspectives. Leaders need to be skilled at this, given that diverse teams have the potential to be smarter and more innovative than teams in which everyone is similar. Continue reading