A revamp to transform your whole world

Rewire comprehensively debunks the myth that companies can embrace difference through a few pet projects, says global head of diversity and inclusion at Novartis Pharma Renee Anderson

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Rewire’s authors, Chris Yates and Pooja Sachdev, open their book with their personal stories. That they have real-world experience of addressing diversity, personally and professionally, gives credence to the recommendations they make. The book takes the reader on a logical journey through a narrative that covers the why, what and how of improving diversity in any organization.

The authors explain why current approaches to improving diversity are failing to work and explore need for change, proposing a new model. They outline how to act as an internal consultant to help your organization become more inclusive.

At the heart of the case they make is the message that increasing diversity must be approached holistically or systemically. Given that many societies continue to treat women as second-class citizens, they recommend taking both external and environmental issues into account alongside internal issues, such as how the organization is structured and who is recruited.

When organizations have eff ective policies and positive intent, but are still not making the progress they desire, they advise that the culture – the invisible rules that govern how work really gets done – needs to be tackled. Lack of progress in increasing diversity, they believe, often comes down to intangibles: unwritten rules, habitual practices and faulty mindsets.

This book could stand alone as a reference text. If you have forgotten the important contributors to the concept of ‘in’ and ‘out’ groups or one of the greatest pioneers of crosscultural research, it’s pretty much all here. It is also a wonderful call-to-arms for organizational development (OD) to be deployed in the service of diversity and inclusion, to help the approach be less fragmented.

Yet the book has its weaknesses. Its content is so broad and inclusive, it can feel overcomplicated at times. The authors admit that their craft of OD can be criticized as too model-driven and complex and, in a sense, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. While the book acts as a solid guide for the more experienced, newcomers to OD might feel inundated.

Despite this, the book has a key strength – the authors exhort organizations to stop looking for a silver bullet to increase diversity. They argue cogently that isolated and piecemeal initiatives won’t work. Unless a holistic approach is taken, specifically tackling unseen barriers such as organizational culture, companies will continue to make slow progress. At Novartis Pharma, the holistic approach is the approach we have taken – and it’s working.



Chris Yates andPooja Sachdev Bloomsbury