Unibail Rodamco Westfield

Addressing high female turnover rate at senior associate level and creating an inclusive workplace for all employees.

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (URW) specialises in owning, developing and managing premier retail assets across Europe and the United States, as well as prestigious office building and other major venues in the Paris region. Following the work EW Group had done with Westfield in February 2018, Unibail Rodamco – which acquired Westfield in June 2018 – teamed up with us again to facilitate sessions on Inclusive Leadership and Unconscious Bias as part of their talent review process happening at the end of each year.

The key diversity challenge for URW was the realisation of a leaky pipeline for female employees’ progression through the ranks of the organisation and that they were as a result losing great talent. An internal study highlighted why this was happening at their Europe offices:

  • Poor work-life balance
  • Perceived issues surrounding maternity policies
  • Dominant masculine culture
  • Biased perceptions and decisions
  • Perceived unfair pay
  • Lack of international openness

Our main diversity and inclusion consultant leading on this, Marianne, put forward the recommendation of running Unconscious Bias training sessions for managers to help mitigate biases during decision-making, particularly during recruitment, promotion, performance evaluation and so forth.

URW’s key objectives to overcome this diversity challenge were as follows:

  • Drive gender balance in senior positions (above associate level)
  • Reduce the turnover rate of female employees
  • Create an inclusive culture that supports all employees and ensures their continued engagement

Starting in October 2018, EW Group ran one-to-one interviews and began designing the sessions that would be delivered by of two of our diversity consultants in November 2018, meeting our 1st December deadline. Through the Unconscious Bias Training designed for the managers at URW the expected result was to create a common language around bias during the Talent Review meetings in December 2018 when key decisions would be made about employees’ career progression.

We delivered seven face-to-face sessions across 5 European countries with 100 managers with a dozen different nationalities, including the CEO and some board members. The content and structure of the sessions was tailored to suit URW’s learners’ profiles to create a suitable learning environment and demonstrate effectively how to apply their newfound diversity knowledge to their daily work.

The key objectives to meeting during these sessions included:

  • Discuss why diversity and inclusion is important to them as leaders, as individuals and for the business and its future
  • Increase the level of understanding about how unconscious bias affects decision-making at work and its impact on team performance
  • Apply this understanding to real life scenarios at URW and discuss how things could have been done differently
  • Develop a collective view of what inclusive leadership looks like and an individual commitment to being proactive and making positive changes

The session’s content created deep discussion amongst participants, especially our acted scenario videos, and overall the sessions were very well received.

Below are some more measurable outcomes from these sessions:

  • 100% of participants have discussed next steps and 90% of participants committed to an action they will follow to mitigate the impact of bias in their decision-making
  • Gender diversity was discussed as being the starting point of reflection on culture but quickly led to how to create an inclusive workplace for all and how this would ensure future business performance
  • Very positive feedback at the end of each session
  • CEO’s quote: “Diversity is the mother of our future success.”

“I really enjoyed working with managers from the different offices across Europe as it was fascinating to discuss cultural differences in our bias and to see how it can impact the way we work together. I have also found the participants very eager to learn, to participate and willing to understand more about their own bias and how to mitigate them. There was always a high level of challenge in the room combined with some good fun which made the whole project really interesting for me. I also really appreciated being welcomed in the various locations, the level of professionalism and people’s engagement before, during and after each session.”

Marianne Constans, EW Group Diversity Consultant

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