Nurturing diversity of thought and building trust in our teams

At AbbVie, we work to create this environment by putting an emphasis on behaviours. We don’t expect everyone to hold the exact same values or beliefs – we do, however, have guiding principles that help govern our behaviours when we show up for work, writes Nicolas Goncalves, Human Recources Director, Abbvie

Diversity is one of the most debated concepts in the HR space. It encompasses differences that are visible as well as ones that go beneath the surface. We don’t all have the same background, we have not been exposed to the same experiences or upbringing. Finally, we do not all perceive the world in the same way. From my perspective, all forms of diversity should be valued and are essential to the success of every team.

The work behind fulfilling ‘diversity standards’ goes way beyond listing it as a company priority. A team needs, not only different perspectives, but an environment that truly celebrates those differences and recognises the benefits they bring to the organisation. It takes intentional and considered practices to help people feel comfortable sharing their worldview and contributing solutions based on their unique lens.

How does diversity of thought drive our performance? It positively impacts the quality of every single decision we make. It helps us challenge each other, nurtures innovation, and provides a more comprehensive and holistic approach to the solutions we deliver as an organisation.

Unpacking diversity of thought
At AbbVie, we work to create this environment by putting an emphasis on behaviours. We don’t expect everyone to hold the exact same values or beliefs – we do, however, have guiding principles that help govern our behaviours when we show up for work.

These guidelines outline expectations like acting respectfully yet courageously, communicating openly and honestly with all colleagues, creating an environment in which people appropriately experiment and challenge the status quo, using mistakes and failures as vehicles for learning and improvement, or creating a diverse and inclusive environment where all team members can thrive. Every employee is assessed against these on an annual basis as part of our Performance Management process. In addition, whenever appropriate throughout the year, every employee can use our AbbVie Excellence Awards website to recognise a colleague and reward them for role-modelling a behaviour aligned to this framework.

Nurturing a constructive dialogue
A high level of trust is required for people to feel comfortable enough to voice their disagreement and respectfully challenge each other. This has been one of our priorities at AbbVie and will remain a priority for this year (being awarded nr. 2 in the Great Place to Work ranking in Australia speaks to the progress of these efforts).

In 2021, employees at all seniority levels will receive additional education on how to productively challenge each other and have clear and courageous conversations, whether that be with their direct reports, peers or managers. This is especially relevant as we operate cross-functionally, co-create, and seek out buy-in from all the team members involved in a project.

Companies can support managers in creating this environment by providing access to appropriate resources and training. During the latest “Inclusive Leadership” workshop in February, our people leaders across Australia and New Zealand exchanged views on unconscious bias, common barriers certain minorities and underrepresented populations face, and how to be an ally and support them overcoming these.

A high level of trust is required for people to feel comfortable enough to voice their disagreement and respectfully challenge each other.

How does it drive performance?
So how does diversity of thought drive our performance? It positively impacts the quality of every single decision we make. It helps us challenge each other, nurtures innovation, and provides a more comprehensive and holistic approach to the solutions we deliver as an organisation. It helps make our approach more relevant to the diverse patient population we serve and brings us closer to fulfilling our goal – to create a remarkable impact on people’s lives.

How do you encourage diversity of thought in your teams? I would love to hear from best practices out there.

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