The Culture Review

Issue 99

By Ivan Hollingsworth, Founder of Centric Consultants

The push for greater representation and fairness in the workforce has sparked important conversations about what equality means, and while most organisations will say that they are making positive steps toward increasing diversity and inclusion in their workforce, the hard work doesn’t stop when there is more diversity at the table. In 2024 leaders need to embrace what an equitable environment looks like within their team, rather than simply focusing on equality.

Rather than treating everyone equally, equity acknowledges the unique challenges and barriers that different individuals face. In a diverse workforce, not everyone has had the same opportunities or experiences. When businesses prioritise equity, they recognise that individuals may need different resources, support, or accommodations to reach their full potential, and to push the business forward.

This approach not only fosters a more inclusive and supportive work environment but also sends a powerful message to employees that their individual needs are valued and understood.

The first step in creating an environment that values equity is fostering a culture of psychological safety across your team. To make progress towards an equitable environment, managers and leaders need to get comfortable with the fact that some of the conversations you have to have to make progress might be a little, well, uncomfortable and force you to examine some hard truths about your business. The only way to have honest conversations is to create space for people to raise concerns, questions or ideas in a non-judgmental and nurturing environment. By building a culture that holds psychological safety as a core principle, you will encourage problem-solving innovation and creativity; basically, the harder it is to voice problems, the harder it is to solve them.

Advancements don’t just come from behaviour and belief change, investment in structure and policy change will embed your commitment across your business and create a platform for learning and growth. Create a structure that holds people accountable like networks or focus groups, initiate reverse mentoring between leaders and team members from underrepresented groups, and practice leading with humility.

If you’re committed to starting the conversation about what an equitable environment looks like for your business, I would highly recommend the book and podcast below.

BOOK: Blindspot: Hidden biases of good people by Mahzarin R. R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald

In Blindspot, the authors reveal hidden biases based on their experience with the Implicit Association Test, a method that has revolutionized the way scientists learn about the human mind and that gives us a glimpse into what lies within the metaphoric blindspot. The title “good people” refers to those of us who strive to align our behavior with our intentions. Blindspot aims to explain the science in plain enough language to help well-intentioned people achieve that alignment. By gaining awareness, we can adapt beliefs and behavior and “outsmart the machine” in our heads so we can be fairer to those around us. Venturing into this book is an invitation to understand our minds.

PODCAST: Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead with Patrice Gordon

In this episode of the hit podcast Dare to Lead, Patrice Gordon discusses reverse mentorship, a practice that sets up a junior team member, often a member of an underrepresented group, to mentor senior staff. Following Patrice’s TED talk on how reverse mentorship can help create better leaders, she talks through best practices and how to set up a programme that provides psychological safety for individuals and the organisation.

Ivan Hollingsworth is the founder and director of Centric Consultants – a business founded in a bid to tackle ‘culture-washing’ and support business leaders to build strong, sustainable, high-performing teams based on trust and psychological safety.

Do you ever feel too busy to read everything out there and find it difficult to choose where to start? Each month Ivan will share his best business reads on key topics that can help business leaders address key challenges in the coming years, including reducing staff burnout, attracting and retaining people, and increasing team performance.

For more insights on what company culture truly means, and how to can implement change across your business follow Centric Consultants on LinkedIn or email Ivan directly at

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