Fast Four Questions: Sonia Breeze, Partner – Consulting | Deloitte New Zealand

Global Women recently collaborated with major partner Deloitte on our Inclusive Workplace Cultures Report 2018.

We grabbed a few minutes with Deloitte Partner Sonia Breeze, who led the research, to find out some of the most surprising results and discover what leaders and employees can do to make their workplaces more inclusive.


Global Women: Why is it so important that employees feel a sense of belonging to their organisation?

Sonia Breeze: Our research has shown that a sense of value and belonging is an integral building block of employee’s feelings of inclusion. It also shows that the more included people feel the better they think their business is performing. So organisations that have a diverse and inclusive workforce are seen to perform better. Feelings of value and belonging are precursors to people feeling confident and inspired. This has clear benefits for organisations in the form of innovation, customer service, collaboration and engagement.


What, if anything, has been the most surprising result from the inclusive cultures survey?

Our results showed that inclusion was 45% higher in organisations with merit-based and transparent processes for pay, performance management and promotion than those without. This is something that organisations should be well placed to be able to do that has a significant impact. This should be a clear call to action for organisations as, in the scheme of D&I initiatives, this is something concrete and that organisations can take action to address.


What should leaders’ number one priority be, to ensure that they are making their workplaces as inclusive as possible?

We found that leaders who speak up and holding others to account for non-inclusive behaviour have a significant impact on employees’ feelings of inclusion. What leaders role model influences the way people think and feel about their organisation as well as the organisation’s culture. The significance of speaking out and holding others to account is particularly pertinent against the backdrop of movements such as #MeToo. Organisations are increasingly aware of the risk to their brand if they do not have their house in order.


And what about employees who aren’t in leadership positions? What impact can these people have?

Everyone contributes to the culture of organisations. Our everyday actions can build or destroy other people’s sense of inclusion. It’s important that everyone takes responsibility for fostering a culture of inclusion, whether that be by being curious about someone’s culture, building connections with people beyond your business unit, taking a stand when you see non-inclusive behaviours, or practicing good meeting etiquette. For example, we encourage millennials to proactively look for opportunities to teach others around them. They are increasingly taking on roles not previously done and are in the unique position to educate others around them, such as Gen Z and Baby Boomer executives who won’t always know what to ask.