Updated: Apr 5, 2021
'Good Morning from sunny London', his familiar, opening words, crackle over the phone. It is circa 2003 and my boss is on the line. I can literally see the smile on his face and the gloomy London sky while he is driving to work. I am at my desk in the firm's India office. It is noon and I have wrapped up my morning meetings. When the phone rings I instinctively know it's his call.
It's a norm now – our global CIO will ring me almost daily while driving to work. I am responsible for leading the India Technology center and the only one in his leadership team who is not based in London.
A typical conversation with my boss (let's call him XXX) would go something like this,
Him - 'Hiya. Good Morning from sunny London'
Me – 'Good Morning 😊. How are you, XXX?'
Him – 'All the better for hearing your voice' (This was a long standing joke between us)
Me (Laughing) – 'Sure…😊. Is there any feedback on yesterday's rollout?'
Him - 'It's all quiet. Looks good so far. How are things with you?'
Me – 'Mostly good and nothing that needs immediate attention from you. A few quick updates – The team's working on a critical security patch… the production roll out has minor issues…the root cause has been identified and the new version should be released in the next few hours…I'd like your comments on the updated version of the India Strategy pitch...one of the senior managers has found an opportunity in Mumbai and will be leaving next month… We made 3 offers yesterday…'
Him – 'Looks like you have things in control…Anything I can help you with?'
Me – 'Yes. My son has his exams in two weeks and I will need a couple days off..'
Him – 'Sure. Take the time off. It'll be good for your son to have you around… If there is anything that needs my attention, do let me know…talk with you later then…Bye'
Me – 'Bye XXX'
Conducted under 7 minutes, our conversation was a combination of key business updates and people issues, interspersed with a generous dose of British humor. The 'Good Morning' calls were those I looked forward to, and a practice that made me feel included and valued. The open and trusting relationship we created then, is one I cherish even today.
Back then, we approached manager-employee relationship, diversity, and inclusion with 'what felt right'. We invested in off-sites, frequent in-person meetings, informal chats but it was primarily driven by the leader's personal style. Now HR teams drive Diversity & Inclusiveness (D&I) initiatives with many established best practices in their toolkit. The landscape and technology have changed immensely and D&I have taken centerstage in the workplace.
Building long-lasting relationships with colleagues, setting good diversity and inclusion practices is a tall order. I see many colleagues struggle with these.
What is an example of a simple D&I practice that made a huge difference to you or your colleagues? I would love to hear a best practice from you.