Case studies


Michael Fallon – what is acceptable behaviour?

Commendable it might be that Michael Fallon understands that as a leader he has to live to the standards he expects of others, he still doesn’t “get” sexual harassment. In his interview with the BBC announcing his resignation he explains in a rather pitiful way that the “culture has changed” and adds “what might have been acceptable 15, 10 years ago is clearly not acceptable now“. READ MORE

Moments Of Truth – Tackling Unconscious Bias In Vodafone


Watch the video

Karina Govindji, Group Head of Diversity & Inclusion comments:

“It’s been an extremely collaborative partnership – lots of creativity and ideas – going above and beyond our expectations in terms of support.”

Click here to listen to what Karina Govindji, Vodafone’s Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, has to say about this collaboration – and see some clips from the scenarios.

When Vodafone asked us to help them take a highly practical, engaging approach to unconscious bias, that they could use globally, we leapt at the chance. One of the challenges with this topic is that it has often been over-theoretical – interesting, but not necessarily helping people make a breakthrough in terms of changing their behaviour. Our focus has always been on shifting culture by stimulating people to try out doing things differently, so were excited about bringing this approach to the assignment.

  • We began by interviewing contacts in HQ and key markets outside the UK
  • On the basis of this feedback we agreed with Vodafone 5 “Moments of Truth” and associated learning outcomes
  • Collaborating with our long-term partners Steps, we developed scripts to bring these to life
  • Steps then pulled together an outstanding international cast and produced the scenarios
  • We then pulled together a Train the Trainer manual, a walk through of the key learning points for each scenario in a filmed guide and ran a session to equip internal facilitators to deliver

Robin Schneider managed the overall project and comments:

“In 4 months we moved from concept to completion. Critical to this was the way we all worked together. Vodafone input was vital at every stage and we really enjoyed working with the new team in HQ of Karina Govindji and Ritika Lal. We have also had now over 7 years of partnering with Steps, and have a deep well of mutual trust and respect, so we knew we would deliver a great product. They understand the learning we are trying to get across and bring a wonderful deft touch that enables people to ‘get’ the subtleties – the throw-away looks and lines that say so much about what people are actually thinking and feeling.”

Unconscious bias workshops driving change

This client had run an unconscious bias workshop for some senior leaders, but got mixed feedback and many participants were left with the “So, we are biased, what now?” They asked for our help at moving them on from this to an intervention where people felt more equipped to move forward. Working with the client, we turned this dilemma on its head – and designed a programme that would in fact deliberately feed into a change programme.

First of all we carried out some diagnostic activities – qualitative 1:1 discussions and analysis of recruitment and development statistics – in order to better understand where unconscious bias might be playing out. On the basis of this we agreed with the top team, 3 areas of organisational change to address in the workshop – (i) recruitment and development processes, (ii) taking a more inclusive approach to change and (iii) actions that would lead to a more inclusive culture.

Over a 2 month period, our diverse facilitation team ran over 20 half-day workshops, bringing people together from different levels and areas across the organisation. The workshops have built a strong platform – with significant increases in awareness (85%, up from 56% before the workshop, understanding what they can do individually to combat unconscious bias) and belief that the organisation is serious about change – 76% overall, with a particularly strong increase from 41% to 70% amongst BAME staff.

The programme concluded with a final report, back to the top team, with a set of recommendations in each of the three organisational change themes. As the client put it: “The workshops were very helpful for prompting discussions on these issues among the leadership team. The before and after stats were very helpful and we particularly liked the team’s personal approach to dealing with matters.”

Inclusive leadership for a global insurance client

The client was looking for an innovative approach to leadership development, with a focus on developing inspirational leadership by growing middle and senior level leaders’ capability in working collaboratively across cultures, building skill at being “inclusive leaders” by developing emotional intelligence (EQ) and engaging more effectively with colleagues and team members.

Schneider~Ross put together a proposal and ran a taster programme for the 10 or so recommenders and decision makers in Zurich.

We worked with over 150 leaders on this global programme in the US, UK, Switzerland, Slovakia and India.

Innovative design

The programme was designed in partnership with the client contact, using some novel design ideas and ways of working, for example:

  • Designing a series of “real play” leadership scenarios based on the day-to-day challenges facing leaders, where delegates took part in “real time” project teams to resolve leadership challenges. This technique drew on Rachael Ross‘ advanced training in “systemic practice” and was customised for each working location
  • Peer to peer coaching in pairs on a personal leadership learning task
  • Working with a “timeline” of cultural preferences drawing on the work of Fons Trompenaars (cross culture), Deborah Tannen (cross gender) and Myers Briggs (decision making and communication styles), which spread out across the room, allowing for dynamic and “in the moment” discussion and break through learning
  • Action planning both personally and as a group, with 121 coaching support took place to apply all of the learning to a work related challenge


Preparation & follow up

Prior to the workshop, a pre-workshop questionnaire was designed and customised for the location, which drew together a series of questions around decision making, cultural preferences regarding hierarchy and communication style preferences.

The outputs from the workshop (including personal action plans) were circulated speedily after each workshop, and an in depth questionnaire re feedback on the outcomes and overall performance evaluation was designed and circulated by the client.

The benefits for the global leaders flowing from the programme included:

  • An increased ability to engage with employees, especially those very different from oneself
  • A raised awareness of the company’s commitment to developing a more inclusive culture, and what part senior leaders need to play in promoting that culture futher
  • An understanding that others have different preferences around hierarchy, communication styles and leadership approaches
  • An improved ability to collaborate with other parts of the organisation and see them as part of “one team”
  • An increased ability to engage with customers and to empathise with their agenda and cultural approach

A diversity & inclusion survey in Qatar

A global company had an ambition to create an inclusive culture wherever it operated around the world.  It had a global people survey, but wanted to carry out a more in-depth review, focusing on Diversity and Inclusion in Qatar. The e-survey (in English and Arabic) which we developed for them enabled them to ask more specific questions (20 in all), analyse the results by more demographic variables, and ask open text questions which allowed respondents to add in their own comments.

In this way, the company was able not only to fine-tune its understanding of the barriers to diversity and inclusion, but also to test out support for (and gain input into) future plans.

D&I workshops for the top 400 in HR globally

Whilst HR cannot be accountable for achieving a company’s D&I aspirations, they are vital for ensuring effective delivery.  Line leaders will look to HR to help them take more innovative approaches, for instance, to recruitment and development.

This client recognised the strategic importance of building the D&I capabilities of its HR leaders and we developed a 2.5 day programme to build HR ownership and help them embed D&I into all the core processes – and the coaching and advice they provide their line leaders. We ran this programme very successfully in the UK, Europe, Africa and Asia and it has now become a mandatory part of the development of HR professionals in the company.

A cross-cultural workshop to facilitate a merger

Well-managed mergers are always exercises in cross-cultural sensitivity, and naturally this is even more the case when it is a cross-border joint venture.

For the top executive team of this joint venture we prepared a cross-cultural workshop to develop their awareness right at the start of the exercise, and again just before they appointed the next layer of management.

Drawing on the work of leading researchers such as Geert Hoftstede, Fons Trompenaars and Edward Hall we helped the team (many of whom were either British or American) look at the cultures of their major markets in Germany and Japan.

We also helped them consider how they could and should create an inclusive environment, which made the most of the distinctive characteristics of each of the parent companies.

Reviewing talent management processes

Very often, talent management processes include many assumptions that unnecessarily limit thinking about the skills and experiences required, and who might have them.  We helped this client root out these assumptions and challenge the way they looked at “high potential”.

We also carried out a review of each stage of their global process – from how vacancies were first identified and described through to making final selections and feeding back to candidates. We highlighted prompt questions that could be used at each stage to test whether unconscious biases (often confirmatory bias) might be playing out.

 Global inclusive leadership programme

This client won the 2011 Company of the Year at the European Diversity Awards.

Starting with the global Executive Committee, over the next two years we designed and rolled out a 1.5 day Inclusive Leadership workshop, reaching the Chief Executive and his or her direct reports in every operating company.

Working with our partners at Steps we facilitated a highly interactive programme, using drama as a key component in helping executive focus on what they could do differently. Crucially, the workshop was adapted to the social context in each country and the business needs of that particular operating company.

Countries covered included mature economies such as Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Italy and emerging markets such as India, Egypt, South Africa, Ghana, Turkey, Czech Republic, Romania.

A strategic review

This major utility company felt it had reached a plateau in its work on diversity and inclusion. We carried out a strategic review for them in 2008-9 and developed a set of proposals for the Executive to reposition their work.

This involved an Inclusion Charter, a leadership programme for the top 200, new D&I goals (linked to their business case) revised positioning of employee networks and I&D governance, and a 12 month road map.

In 2010 this company won the Opportunity Now Inclusive Culture Award.

An audit of progress: measures of success & accountabilities

This organisation has a major role in the UK’s public sector and wants to become an exemplar in the area of equality and diversity. It has many of the elements of good practice, but was not seeing as much change in outcomes as it desired. It asked us to carry out an external audit, focusing particularly on the measures of success and accountabilities.

Carrying out a set of interviews with the Executive and a cross-section of other employees, as well as a rigorous desk review of key documents, we were able to develop a comprehensive report. All the findings and recommendations have been presented to, and accepted by, the Audit Committee.

Developing a global strategy for a major financial services company

This leading insurer based in the UK with staff in over 20 countries recognised that it needed to develop a business-led global Diversity & Inclusion strategy.

We helped the Group Diversity Director appoint a senior level group to develop the approach. The group, chaired by the Strategy Director, had representatives from across the world – including Dutch, Australian, Indian and Ivory Coast nationals – and a balance of line and HR leaders.

Fist the group needed to share their different perspectives and come to a common vision for what they thought diversity should mean for the company. They got Executive Committee support for this approach and developed a highly innovative communication campaign (“if you think diversity is not for you – think again”) with a video and brochure pack translated into local languages.

Coaching case studies

Our leadership coaching practice is led by Rachael Ross, one of the founders of Schneider~Ross.

Over the years, we have been commissioned to carry out executive coaching assignments for a number of leading clients including BP, Coastline Housing, Crown Estate, Enterprise Holdings, Exxon Mobil, the Government Planning Office, JM Finn & Co, Marlborough College and National Grid.

These clients are all leaders who wish to expand their capacity to lead more diverse complex teams, and role model a more inclusive approach to leadership. They are highly skilled leaders who are stepping up to a new level of leadership which requires them to engage at an emotional level as well as strategically with their stakeholders.

We draw on our combination of diversity and inclusion expertise and coaching psychology to support and challenge leaders with the behavioural changes they want to bring about. We always encourage a 3 way discussion between coachee, line manager and ourselves at the start of any assignment.

Click here to visit out sister site where you can find some further information about our philosophy and approach to coaching, and some examples of case studies.

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