Q&A with Tinna C. Nielsen, Founder of Move The Elephant For Inclusiveness, and Global Head of Inclusion, Diversity and Collaboration, Arla Foods amba

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Tinna C. Nielsen is Founder of Move The Elephant For Inclusiveness, and Global Head of Inclusion, Diversity and Collaboration, Arla Foods amba. She is World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leader Class 2015.

The first anti-discrimination laws were introduced in the UK during the late 1970s. Since then, D&I has gone far beyond crude equal employment opportunities, and is widely accepted as a key driver in ensuring a robust, agile, innovative and productive enterprise. Yet in reality, human behaviours, mind-sets and psychological barriers, still stand in the way of embedding D&I into all business processes.

In the run up to HR Vision Amsterdam, I catch up with Tinna C. Nielsen, Founder of Move The Elephant For Inclusiveness, Author of the Inclusion Nudges Guidebook, and Global Head of Inclusion, Diversity and Collaboration, at Arla Foods amba. Anthropologist and a behavioural economist by heart and profession, Tinna has extensive experience with systemic and cultural transformations of organisations, inclusive leadership development, team development, unconscious bias awareness and behavioural change, ethnographic fieldwork, as well as strategy development and execution.

QFirstly, congratulations on your recent recognition from the World Economic Forum as Young Global Leader, class of 2015. What exactly does that mean to be selected for this community and how did you come to receive this honour?

• The Forum of Young Global Leaders is a unique, multistakeholder community of more than 900 young leaders nominated under 40, assessed according to rigorous selection criteria such as a recognized record of extraordinary achievement, a clear indication of playing a substantial leadership role for the rest of his or her career, demonstrate a commitment to serve society at large through exceptional contributions, and have a global perspective, have an impeccable record in the public eye, as well as show great self-awareness and a desire for learning. In 2015 187 was selected out of thousands of nominated. Throughout the six year tenure, YGLs are fully involved in the Forum’s meetings, initiatives and research and interact with the Forum’s wider multistakeholder community. The community gives its members a peer network that challenges them to be better leaders in both their personal and professional lives. It is a support system that questions, and constantly pushes its members to not only do more, but to be more too.

• So why was I nominated? I think, because I have pioneered a new approach to create inclusive organisations as head of I&D in Arla, and I work on creating a global movement of sharing through the socio-economic organisation that I founded in 2013. For the past two years, I have orchestrated a global sharing project in joined effort with Lisa Kepinski. We started this work up based on trust and reciprocity and collaborated without having met each other in person. We have now published a Guidebook on the techniques we call Inclusion Nudges. Those who have contributed with one example get all 50 examples of these behavioural interventions free of charge.

• What does this mean to me? It gives me a great platform for spreading these techniques as a contribution to make a better world. It will be a catalyst for me to not only to more but to also be more.

QYou set up ‘Move the Elephant for Inclusiveness’ in 2013. Tell us more about the organisation and the ideology behind it.

• It is both a non-profit and a profit organisation with a purpose that is profitable for all people and organisations. I call it socio-economic because the surplus of the organisation goes to a global movement of sharing. It is used to ensure that all organisations and institutions worldwide regardless of their financial means have access to learn the techniques of Inclusion Nudges and have access to expertise on how to mitigate bias and leverage differences to make a difference. As an anthropologist, I believe reciprocity will make a difference in this world. When you give you always get back, when you give you create a positive spin-off of more people giving. This is the foundation of the organisation. Moving elephants is about behavioural change. I am inspired by Jonathan Haidt’s brain analogy of the automatic, unconscious brain system 1 being an elephant and the reflective, conscious brain system 2 being the elephant’s rider. When it comes to behavioural change for more inclusiveness the challenge is that a rational understanding (the rider) of the business case is far from enough, because the rider cannot move a six ton heavy elephant that is not motivated. The rational understanding will be outsized by the unconscious and emotional mind, that dominates about 80-90% of our behaviour. Moving the elephant is a completely different ball game. The techniques of Inclusion Nudges are designed for exactly that purpose.

QThe Roffey Park 2015 Management Agenda revealed that 38% of employees in junior management positions said they viewed diversity as a ‘tick-box’ exercise by their organisation. It was suggested by Roffey Park’s director of research, practice and qualifications Andy Smith, that the prevalent cynicism amongst those managers in more junior levels is derived from the idea that “things don’t change as fast as they should”. He advised Diversity & Inclusion professionals to “draw attention to the bottom” of the organisation. How would you say you’re doing this at Arla Foods and have you encountered a similar issue?

• My mission is to change exactly this ‘tick the box’ approach and create a paradigm shift where the work of Inclusion & Diversity is dominated by a resource discourse and ‘need to have’ for business perception and not a ‘nice to have’ perception. When organisations ‘tick the box’ their efforts are often dominated by compliance, global benchmark, projects or programmes with a deadline. It often becomes a numbers game of diversity representation in leadership and workforce, but rarely about ensuring an inclusive organisational culture where diversity of perspectives is being leveraged for better performance and innovation. This approach rarely leads to sustainable behavioural changes for inclusiveness. In Arla Foods the discourse was dominated by gender equality and the notion of ‘fixing the women’ and ‘do something to help the minorities’. One way we changed this perception was to set an objective for how to compose high-performance teams instead of a target for diversity. The team composition objective is: Maximise 70% of team members of the same generation, gender, nationality, educational background. This way it is about reducing homogeneity, it is about performance, it is about all of us; it is not about fixing i.e. the women, which are the connotations when we set targets like 30% women in leadership. To create a bottom-up movement in Arla Foods we made sure Inclusion & Diversity and unconscious bias training is a part of the leadership program, talent, graduate program, but without calling it that. Simply just calling it leadership, global mindset, future-proofing your organisation, innovation, which is what all leaders are already focused on. The majority of leaders in these programmes are middle managers and team leaders and in the forth year we are not working with upper management. The focuses of the training sessions have been motivation by enabling leaders to spot their biased behavioural patterns and the implications of these for people and business. We also implemented elements in already existing organisational processes like the recruitment process and the performance calibration process to mitigate bias. It’s been a pull effect and not push effect. We see a 20% improvement in employees experiencing that their differences in competencies and background is being applied in their team (internal engagement survey).

QTinna, you’re delivering the opening keynote on day 2 of HR Vision, in Amsterdam. What can our audience expect from your deep-dive session, and how should they prepare?

• They will be introduced to a merger of behavioural economics, anthropology, and Inclusion & Diversity – a new innovative approach called Inclusion Nudges to make inclusion stick and leverage the potential in diversity and their people’s full potential. They will hear a personal story about how the biggest failure in my career turned into the biggest success for me as a change agent and influencer. All they have to prepare themselves for is to see how their brain works. They will get lots of practical examples for how to challenge the biased mind. If they are curious about getting a sneak peak into their own unconscious mind now, then I’ll encourage them to take one of the Implicit Association Tests available online free of charge.


You can hear about these topics and many more at our next HR Vision conference.

HR Vision is the elite, boutique style event, where HR leaders gather to discuss core business strategy.

Visit www.hrvisionevent.com to discover the next upcoming conference date and venue most suitable to you.

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