THE POWER OF ALLYSHIP - A bridge between generations

10 Jan 2022

By Chrystelle Simon

As already expressed in previous articles, inclusion and opportunity are two strongly linked concepts. Valuing differences with the aim of developing talents is part of the very concept of inclusion. Inclusion is what makes it possible to start a virtuous professional project that seizes more business opportunities and is functional to the development of organisational wellbeing, also thanks to flexible working processes. An inclusive leadership style is fundamental to enhancing and promoting diversity and the contributions that each person can offer in terms of innovation and performance, in order to obtain competitive advantages. Deloitte’s inclusive leadership model consists of 6 fundamental traits that are necessary to activate a virtuous process that makes the value of inclusion a business tool:

  1. Commitment of the individual and the organisation to prioritise diversity and inclusion. This implies respectful and fair behaviour and the involvement of all people;
  2. The courage to carry forward the culture of Diversity & Inclusion, but also the attitude to recognise one’s limits and to want to improve;
  3. Awareness of the existence of bias, which we must be able to recognise in order to make fair decisions, free from prejudice;
  4. Curiosity to look at new perspectives, encouraging continuous learning and divergent thinking;
  5. The openness needed to collaborate with people from cultures other than our own;
  6. The collaborative approach to create respectful and psychologically healthy work environments where people can feel free to express themselves.

Inclusive leadership is about connecting the different generations working within the same organisation. Promoting an inclusive culture means offering meeting points, alliances and comparison between different values, ideas, behavioural models and experiences; in short, valuing cognitive diversity.

And it is precisely with a view to valuing diversity and virtuous alliances that we have developed numerous initiatives at both the local and global level to foster positive exchanges and dialogue between different generations.

Allyship is a tool, as well as a goal, to generate a sense of belonging, especially in today’s fragmented world. Allyship reduces the distance between different generations, between senior members of staff and young professionals.

With this in mind, the Ask Me initiative was launched last year with the aim of connecting younger people to leadership and encouraging continuous exchanges on topics of various interests. Ask Me – an initiative promoted by Alessandro Mercuri, the Consulting Leader of Deloitte Central Mediterranean – was created during the frst stage of the pandemic and designed to help people stay ‘connected’, to listen to people and give live answers to their questions. The 30-minute live events were an extraordinary success, with over 1,500 participants each time, and have become a regular event.

During the same period, a digital wellbeing programme on social media was also launched, in parallel with the creation of the People & Purpose Channel, a channel dedicated to training to develop soft skills in various areas, considered useful for dealing with the lockdown.
Speaking of young people, we cannot fail to mention the ONE Young World project, created by Deloitte North South Europe. OYW is a non-proft organisation that brings together bright young leaders from around the world to give them the opportunity to make a wider positive impact in the world. These young people come together at annual summits where delegates become OYW Ambassadors, joining an international network. The ambassadors’ job is to encourage other young people to be proactive within their own communities and the organisations they represent. Linking business to the social impact of organisations is an opportunity that the OYW Summit recognises. This raises awareness in young talent, promoting the brand values and impact Deloitte has in the communities in which it operates.

In addition, One Young World launched the Lead2030 initiative to support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Supported by some of the world’s most prestigious brands, Lead2030 aims to fund and accelerate the solutions proposed by the most impactful young people who are contributing to the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. One of Lead2030’s inaugural Challenge Partners is Deloitte, which has taken charge of Goal 4, on quality education.
Deloitte also has delegates within the OYW programme who, each year, have the opportunity to support the leadership by participating in projects designed to achieve the objectives to be presented at the next Summit. Delegates are offered ad hoc training that focuses on their personal goals. These young people are offered the opportunity to meet the Summit community, participating as Deloitte delegate ambassadors. The link between the young ambassadors and the senior leaders is also strong in this project, as the proposals are analysed by the seniors and discussed again in a two-way exchange.

A further project to enhance the potential of intergenerational collaborations, but also between people of different sexes, are the sponsorship programmes dedicated to our female talents, which aim to strengthen the alliance between different sexes and generations.
What is sponsorship? Sponsorship is a one-to-one relationship in which a Partner Sponsor is committed to creating visibility opportunities with internal and external clients that enable the sponsee to gain knowledge, skills and professional experience.
Sponsors are leaders who are committed to supporting the sponsee by providing advice and sharing personal experiences. They are influential leaders who can provide access and opportunities with clients and set up key roles within the organisation.
The sponsorship programme started globally with the WAVE initiative, which initially involved our leaders, executive committee members and high-potential female managers. It was later extended to other sponsoring partners and professional sponsees.

The main objective of this initiative is to create a network of change agents who, together, will accompany our organisation on the path towards an increasingly inclusive future. All this has been made possible by reverse mentoring, a one-toone process through which young managers generate input, passing on their point of view to seniors who, in turn, are enabled to broaden their perspectives. An exchange that stimulates the interconnection between generations is essential.

According to research by Deloitte, 83% of young people feel more engaged when leadership promotes a plural and inclusive culture: in fact, inclusive leadership is necessary to grasp and enhance generational diversity.
This process brings together different generations that create a useful alliance in what is now called the VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous), a complex and increasingly interconnected world.
When it comes to generations, the most well-known subdivision is: Baby Boomer, Generation X, Millennial and Generation Z. Each generation has grown up in a certain socio-economic and political era that has contributed in diverse ways to shaping their values and perspectives at work. Sociologists have identifed patterns of behaviour and thinking that tend to differentiate one generation from the next. These generational stereotypes, although not applicable indiscriminately to every individual, can help guide interpersonal interactions between generations in the company, which are particularly important in this historical period.

The alliance between generations is a way to create new values and to support an inclusive evolution, especially after the lockdown period, when we have developed capacities to adapt to change and uncertainty.
The alliance between generations develops Effective Transgenerational Leadership. Leading an organisation in which four generations coexist is a real challenge. Each generation has its own values, norms and styles that can potentially clash with each other. Overall, it is essential that leaders create a working environment that embraces transgenerational differences to maximise the effectiveness of the organisation. The key points for effective transgenerational leadership are illustrated by the 6 indispensable traits of inclusive leadership:

being flexible and able to listen;
• developing emotional and cultural intelligence;
• being curious and open-minded;
• knowing how to collaborate effectively by creating trust,
delegating and relying on one’s collaborators;
• conveying the reason for what you are doing, giving constructive and timely feedback to the team;
• managing to maintain a work-life balance, guiding people
in their growth

By considering the characteristics of the different generations we can obtain the key to excelling in our working life, achieving our goals, aligning ourselves with a model that recognises the values of each generation, taking advantage of the richness that comes from diversity.
To conclude, an interesting fact: in the ‘VUCA world,’ teams composed of people from different generations are up to 87% more likely to make better decisions where there is greater inclusiveness and alliance.

‘We need to remember across generations that there is as
much to learn as there is to teach.’

Gloria Steinem

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