Leading Change through Thoughtful Design and Inclusive Practices

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At our recent Women in Transformation event in London, held at the CBRE offices, we explored groundbreaking strategies for leading organisational change through design and inclusive practices. A highlight was when one of the organisations described their approach to workspace design. By measuring employees’ effective time in the office, they reimagined their physical space to enhance productivity, making it fit for purpose and validating the office commute. This involved decluttering to reduce stress and strategically placing power outlets to encourage face-to-face interactions over digital communication. Even the relocation of the staircase to a central position was a deliberate move to foster impromptu conversations. The underlying theory here was that rethinking and designing physical spaces in a certain way, will drive  and impact behaviours. 

The Importance of Paying Attention

A common thread throughout the event was the importance of being observant and tuned in to the surrounding behaviours. For leaders to be a role model in the behaviours you wish to see in others is nothing new. However, how this might play a part in the intentional design of a physical space such as an office has changed. Simple actions, such as keeping your door open or choosing to work in collaborative spaces alongside junior staff, can significantly impact workplace culture.

Radical candour was identified as a pivotal factor in nurturing an open culture. By encouraging straightforward, honest communication, organisations can drive more meaningful and productive interactions.


Balancing Inclusivity with Decision-Making

A key point of discussion was finding the right equilibrium between fostering an inclusive culture and maintaining effective decision-making processes. It’s crucial to ensure that inclusivity does not dilute the decisiveness necessary for successful business transformation.


Addressing Sensitive DE&I Issues

Finally, a significant aspect of the conversation revolved around genuinely tackling sensitive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) questions. The discussion highlighted a notable instance in one of the organisations: a promotion round where no women received promotions, which led to a crucial discussion at the executive table. Another exemplary initiative from this organisation is their support for mothers returning to work, offering an additional £500 monthly, regardless of their position in the organisation. Key learnings shared surrounded the transparent communication when action was taken, leading to the view on the leadership team “taking stuff seriously” and actively working on culture.


The Women in Transformation event showcased innovative strategies for organisational change. It also underscored the importance of intentional design and inclusive practices in driving these changes effectively. As we continue to champion women in leadership roles, it’s crucial to keep these insights at the forefront of our efforts to create more equitable and effective work environments.



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Written by Mathilda Börjesson
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