Recent studies from LinkedIn (@LinkedIn) show that conversations around inclusion at work have tripled in the last year, and this topic shows no signs of slowing. As more companies join the conversation, leadership specialist Circl is on a mission to change the way learning and development programmes are implemented within businesses and cultivate a culture of inclusive leadership in modern workplaces.
The Circl Leadership Programme has been developed to provide business leaders and management with the skills and practices needed to create a more inclusive working environment. All course participants are given real-world leadership experience by coaching and being coached by young adults from underrepresented backgrounds.
Creating an inclusive workplace needs to start within leadership and management teams, however many businesses do not have the skills or resources to implement a successful programme. This can directly impact business performance, as employees who don’t feel included are 25% less productive on future tasks and have a 50% greater risk of turnover; it’s therefore imperative for workplaces to have a prominent focus on ensuring all employees are seen and heard.
Circl’s unique ‘Be a Leader, Build a Leader’ two-pronged approach uses a combination of theory-based and practical learning environments. This not only provides the skills needed to create an inclusive leadership and management team, but also showcases how these can be implemented in real-life scenarios through training, alongside having direct impact on underrepresented young people.
Led by accredited coaching experts, the theory-based element of the course guides participants through different techniques and models to develop skills which provide them with the tools needed to become a more inclusive leader. Each module provides participants with the coaching skills required to put theory into practice, with focuses on Active Listening, Building Empathy, Empowering Others to make their own decisions rather than telling them what to do. This is also known as a ‘coaching approach to leadership’ vs a ‘command and control approach’.
Once theory is completed, all participants are able to immediately put their new skills to the test through Circl’s ‘Future Leaders’ partnerships. As part of this practice, Circl’s ‘Leader as Coach’ method is implemented, as both professional and young adults learn the same skills in order to be able to coach one another, establishing a symbiotic, rather than hierarchical, relationship based on equality.
This distinctive approach partners each professional with a young adult from underrepresented backgrounds, providing the opportunity for real-world leadership within audiences they may not have experienced before. As youth employment rates continue to remain low, Circl’s programme provides upskilling and opportunities from both the young adults as well as the professionals.
These are the diverse young people that companies are seeking to provide an inclusive environment for and by including them in the learning process companies are not only helping their teams to become more inclusive but also directly having an impact on these young people. Ultimately this could lead to employment opportunities where the culture is already inclusive and diverse people are more likely to stay and thrive.
Charlie Stainforth, founder and CEO of Circl, says “Inclusivity in the workplace is now more important than ever. There is so much evidence that companies are much more successful if
they have a diverse range of opinions and insights from people of all backgrounds. However, if they focus on diverse hiring, without focusing on building inclusive leadership and culture, they are unlikely to be able to include and empower all colleagues equally to have their voices heard. It is also ironic that there are so many conversations about inclusion and diversity happening without involving the voices of the diverse people that companies are seeking to include. Ultimately the Circl Programme is not just a training programme, it’s an experience of being inclusive through building relationships across sections of society that would otherwise be unlikely to meet. It’s learning through real life experience.”
Stainforth continues “We strive to provide all of those involved with the programme to feel confident and give them with the tools they need to propel in all aspects in their career – whether they’re just starting out on the ladder or have established roles. Our objective is to create a world where anyone – regardless of their background, can learn to lead – and the best way to do this is through real world coaching experience alongside the next generation of diverse leaders.”
Julien Codorniou, Vice President at Workplace at Facebook, says, “Circl is an incredible program, focused on enabling leaders to be coaches, empowering young talent and highlighting diverse voices. We’ve been thrilled to use the program at Facebook, giving our employees time to coach young people to enter the job market with confidence, and in turn up levelling our own teams’ managerial skills. I’d recommend the program to any leader or company looking to train their own team, while supporting underrepresented young people at the same time.”
Junaid Nasir, Future Leader, says “I was chosen to be a Future Leader whilst I was still at university, it felt like a great opportunity to get me ready for the working world. The appeal for Circl wasn’t just around the experience and the skills the course offered, but it was also the focus on empowerment and ownership which helped me build my confidence to put everything I learned into practice. I’m now employed, and I’ve been able to practice all I’ve learned in my own role – and pass experiences onto other people in the business.”