Agnes Uhereczky is a consultant, podcaster and workplace transformer. She is the co-founder of the WorkLife HUB.
But besides the edge-of-your seat action moments, the way this movie has embraced diversity should be an example to many organisations. Without wanting to give away too much in case you haven’t seen it yet, a motley crew of rebels work together seamlessly under the leadership of a young woman to accomplish a feat that nobody else wants to attempt, and incidentally, the one the original Star Wars saga is built on: stealing the plans for the Death Star.
Image courtesy of Jonathan Olley/Disney
My goosebump moment came, when in a ferocious attack on the fleet of the Empire there are not one, but several women flying troop transports, star fighters and even Y-wing bombers, and some are even solidly into middle age. A Star Wars fan from a young age, I am finally recognizing myself in the films, beyond "having to be" Princess Leia as the only option.
And this is what you want for your organisations - that your clients, customers or constituency recognises themselves and their place in your teams. Diversity and Inclusion aren’t simply CSR or HR exercises to report on - they are core business objectives.
Here are some pointers to take away from the Rogue One experience on diversity:
Diverse teams are more inventive and innovative
It’s not only about skin colour, gender, sexual orientation or physical ability - it’s about the rich life stories and experiences everyone brings through their different points of view and filters on life to the organisation. You will need to embrace these differences beyond the physically apparent, and offer a transparent, inclusive and level playing field for everyone to be heard and be given the chance to contribute. Chirrut Imwe, the blind Force-powered fighter brings a different set of skills and sensitivities to the mission than the Defecting pilot of the Empire, or the long-term Rebellion member or even the (very funny) Droid, who just like in our many articles on the future of work takes over all the repetitive tasks from humans and works alongside the human characters, as an integral part of the team.
Mirroring customers and clients
It doesn't matter what sector your business or organisation is in, you may be the director of a hospital, a furniture manufacturer or a research centre.. you have clients, customers, patients, readers or some kind of a constituency. Your success will depend on your ability to close the gap between the make-up of your workforce and the make-up of your constituency. With increasing transparency (due to crowdsourcing platforms like Glassdoor and social media), increasing customer voice and the growing need for continuous innovation and having to have your finger firmly on the pulse of rapidly changing markets, diversity and inclusion of talent are key HR musts for 2017!
Leadership and ownership
There needs to be a clear and irrevocable leadership commitment to inclusion and diversity in any organisation, someone needs to live and breathe these values and model a culture of diversity. But it is up to everyone to make it happen on a day-to-day basis. You may recruit a brilliant team member, but if they feel there is unconscious bias or prejudices in the company, they will leave. Nobody wants to work where they feel unwelcome or uncomfortable, or worse, where they are the token box-ticker.
A process-driven organisation is more conducive to diversity than a hierarchical one
In Rogue One there is no time for job descriptions, performance reviews, reporting schemes… they are all fully aware of what needs to get done (obtain the plans), and everyone is giving their best to play their part. It’s a very flat and democratic way to solve a problem, and it is the platform for everyone to shine. Enter the blind jedi…
A thorough understanding of what the organisation is trying to achieve, even if the best solution requires cross-functional cooperation, bringing in contractors, finding creative solutions to difficult issues and having to take decisions on the go is what is needed to move from titles to talents, no matter in what size, shape or form this talent manifests itself.
Building a vibrant, inclusive culture where employees can be their whole selves is what we are about, and I thank Lukasfilm for nurturing this belief further!