by Sanjay Sehgal, Chairman and CEO of MSys Technologies
Pro bono – I’m sure most of us associate this word with free services, like charity for good reason.
“Pro bono publico”, the Latin word for “for the common good”, is synonymous with charity and community service. But what happens when we introduce pro bono techniques to management? I’ve tried and so far it has proven to be a worthy choice for my company.
Last year, when the uncertainty caused by the pandemic put companies in a period of turmoil that caused many heartache and hardship, we realized that we could only help to develop and adopt new technologies.
The challenge, however, was adjusting resources to meet expectations, and this is where pro bono played a role.
We started reaching out to trainers and professionals who were open to freelance work and who helped us develop our teams.
Fortunately, there were a good number of professionals who agreed to come to us during the turbulent times and are now permanently active in the company.
In fact, we also made sure we didn’t lay off anyone and I am grateful for this decision because if my team and I had resorted to layoffs, we would have been in a crisis now when the market is on the up and we need resources peel off the tasks in hand.
If your organizational management can include Pro-Bono in its strategy, it will be able to meet the project deadlines without having to compromise on quality.
I have to interject here; The introduction of pro bono does not mean replacing full-time resources with volunteers. Rather, it is about creating an integrative management and culture.
As a firm believer in the vitality of collective growth, the realization that no successful organization is a one-man show has never left me. I’ve always believed that inclusivity is an essential part of successful management.
“In a truly inclusive environment, a company is twice as likely to meet or exceed its financial goals. It is three times more likely to perform well. You are six times more likely to be innovative and agile, and eight times more likely to achieve better business results. “Dr. Terri Cooper, Vice-Chair, External Diversity, Justice and Inclusion, Deloitte
A culture in which everyone feels connected and in which they can be their authentic self not only becomes the germ for successful future managers, but also ensures a defined corporate image for the company.
Take the example of Ernst & Young (EY), who believes that “only the best performing teams that maximize the power of different opinions, perspectives and cultural references will succeed in the global marketplace”.
Introducing the corporate culture pro bono means welcoming different opinions and perspectives and improving the perspectives of cultural references.
Over the past few decades, I’ve seen companies use the capabilities of pro bono service as a means of accelerating talent. They use this technique to involve leaders from different backgrounds and create a culture of inclusivity and diverse thinking. “Diverse thinking” is the new frontier today, and the only way to smoothly incorporate it into your management is through the use of pro bono techniques.
Here are three ways Pro Bono supports inclusive leadership:
1. How Pro Bono supports acceptance
Biased leadership is more like Achilles’ heels.
If you want to grow and encourage diverse thinking, the first step is to create a culture of acceptance.
Multinational pharmaceutical company Novartis believes diversity is an essential part of their success as it helps them understand the unique needs of their patients and find innovative ways to meet those needs. For this reason, Novartis has replaced the word “disability” with “multiple skills” to indicate that disability is not a lack of skills, but rather a variety of skills and abilities.
This is why Novartis HR professionals are trained on issues such as subconscious bias, inclusive leadership, disability / adjustment and pay equity to foster a culture of acceptance and improve diversity hiring practices.
2. How Pro Bono supports attention
My spiritual guide Daaji (Kamlesh D Patel) always says: “Thoughts without our attention have no power”.
Our thoughts are powerful, and so we need to watch our thoughts and make sure that no negative thoughts hinder the state of the individual and the growth of a business.
It is therefore important to instill cultural intelligence in leadership, and here too pro bono plays a role.
Take the example of Marriott International, the American multinational, diversified hotel company that manages and franchises a broad portfolio of hotels and related accommodations.
As one of the best multinational workplaces in the world, Marriott International has made initiating LGBT inclusion in their workplace a top priority to create a more inclusive guest experience. This positive step towards changing the culture of thought within the workforce earned Marriott the “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality” award from Marriott according to the HRC Corporate Equality Index 2016. Marriot is widely recognized as a culturally intelligent organization recognized for its diverse and inclusive policies.
And by making their workforce more inclusive, they made their hotels more welcoming to different guests.
3. How Pro Bono supports Attitude.
Diversity and inclusion can only be used with the right attitude.
By leveraging the right mindset, running a business can train employees to create an independent, collaborative, and inclusive work environment in which everyone can thrive.
The most important thing I see when I hire my leadership team is their attitude. And what helps me choose the right one is my experience with Heartfulness, a non-profit organization that consists mostly of volunteer service.
There is no boss here, and yet mega-events are organized and successfully carried out by volunteers. The only thing that keeps everything in place is the volunteer’s attitude to working and working together successfully.
Sum it up.
Inclusive leaders recognize that people are most cooperative when they feel safe to contribute without fear of embarrassment. These leaders understand that power dynamics, dominant styles, and low tolerance for differences can keep team members from expressing themselves.
Hence, they focus on building trust across the group by establishing a set of guiding principles through pro bono values.
This, in my opinion, is the best way to encourage people to contribute without fear.
What do you think? Share your thoughts.
Sanjay Sehgal is Chairman and CEO of MSys Technologies. He is a proven innovator, serial entrepreneur, meditation teacher, and self-development enthusiast who has built and run several companies. He is deeply involved in warmth meditation and teaches this to seekers for inner growth and self-development.