Putting Inclusion Into Practice: Owens Corning
We are often asked how we support companies in diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives. The truth is, diversity can look very, very different, depending on geography, industry, organization, culture, and a number of other factors. For this reason, successful inclusion initiatives tend to vary widely. Inclusion best practices must be customized to the unique diversity of an organization.
Because of the highly specific nature of D&I, we tend to offer broad examples of the tools and services we have available to cater to an organization’s needs. We steer away from giving specific examples because no two successful D&I initiatives look the same.
That being said, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to share an example of some D&I work we did with client Owens Corning. We are continually impressed with their dedication and ongoing commitment to leverage diversity through inclusion in order to attract, engage, and retain the world’s top talent.
Unconscious Bias: Fostering Cultural Inclusion Workshop
This past summer marked Owens Corning’s third global Unconscious Bias workshop. What began as a desire to create an inclusive environment for fostering open dialogue and discussion around diversity has grown into a high-demand event focusing on a different aspect of D&I each session.
The workshop this year focused on Fostering Cultural Inclusion — a timely topic, given recent company acquisitions. Now, over half (56%) of Owens Corning employees reside outside of the United States. The organization recently began using our flagship tool, GlobeSmart, to help staff develop a better understanding of their personal cultural lenses and cultivate a global mindset with an emphasis on inclusiveness.
Gina Thompson, Early Career Development and Diversity and Inclusion Leader at Owens Corning, shared how essential D&I is to the organization:
“Diversity and inclusion are critical to achieving our growth agenda. Understanding, respecting and leveraging employee’s diverse cultural backgrounds and perspectives are the true source of strength for our organization.”
Aperian Global Senior Global Account Manager Adwoa Osei and Web Tools Marketing Manager Derice Darlington had the opportunity to present and engage with a great number of Owens Corning employees, whether they attended the workshop in person at Panther Hall in Toledo, Ohio, or tuned in to the livestream at one of the 10 Owens Corning locations.
Over the course of the workshop, Osei and Darlington helped staff members gain greater awareness around the meaning of diversity and inclusion, how to foster a culturally inclusive mindset, and how to best leverage GlobeSmart for their global learning needs.
Osei began her presentation with clear intentions:
“We want to help you be culturally agile, to understand the other – someone who is different from you in so many ways – and to help you be inclusive of everyone you are working with.”
She started by breaking down the often-confusing term “cultural diversity,” by asking employees to consider how the following definition of culture applies to them:
“Our logic: Values, beliefs, and social practices that allow us to adapt to and survive in our surroundings.
Our language: Shared meanings, thoughts, and patterns that shape how we express ourselves.
Our lens: Our perceptions, filters, and mental models that frame how we interact in daily life – although we are often unaware of them.”
She encouraged employees to take the GlobeSmart Profile, a work culture assessment that gauges where an individual lies on the five most globally common workplace behavioral dimensions. She explained that the better individuals can understand themselves and the cultural “lens” they are looking through, the easier it becomes to embrace diverse and differing viewpoints. She noted, “How you perceive [others] is based on what you have internally.”
Osei and Darlington went into great detail discussing the five GlobeSmart Profile dimensions, what they look like in practice, and how to effectively work with each style.
The Five GlobeSmart Profile Dimensions:
“As we’re thinking through dimensions of culture, both styles are valid… Rather than seeing someone who is different from you in a negative light, leverage the differences,” Darlington encouraged.
She also urged employees take advantage of the fact that GlobeSmart Profile results can be shared, compared, and instantly analyzed between coworkers, whole teams, or even 97 country work-style averages, offering new understanding and advice on how to best work with others and contribute to an inclusive workplace environment.
Following the presentation, workshop attendees broke off into small groups to step outside their typical cultural lens and explore the cultures of four countries: China, Finland, Mexico, and the United States.
The workshop concluded with the group agreeing on important key lessons and actions items. Here are just a few:
- Prepare. Before you meet with people, especially those from another country, do your research. Take the GlobeSmart profile and compare.
- Accept other people’s work styles. Keep an open mind. Listen to people’s views and understand why they have those views. Continue to learn and grow from each other.
- Don’t assume anything. Ask questions. Make sure you are meeting in the middle. Understand and respect each other.
- Keep trying. If you try a new strategy in a diverse team and it doesn’t work, don’t give up. Talk to people, come up with a new strategy, and keep working at it.