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Lemon-Boost IMA® model
Understanding your Inclusion Maturity Level reveals gaps from top performers!
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Knowing the Company's level of inclusion maturity provides a clear understanding of where it is on its journey to inclusive teamwork and organizational agility.

Performing the Lemon-Boost Inclusion Maturity Assessment (IMA®) helps identify where to focus efforts. Understanding the 5 stages enables a company to gauge success and the distance between their company and top performers.

However, focusing solely on inclusion is insufficient. Inclusion maturity stage helps you to understand where to put the effort on its journey towards inclusive Teamwork and Organization Agility.

Lemon-Boost recognizes inclusion solely is not sufficient and incorporates two additional dimensions related to teamwork and organizational agility capability into its IMA® model. This unique feature sets our assessment apart, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of inclusion and organizational dynamics.

According to more than 40 years of academic research, businesses typically go through predictable phases when it comes to inclusion.

Knowing what stage your business is in will assist you avoid becoming stuck. The company needs to choose where to direct your efforts most efficiently. Further, Lemon-Boost will use both qualitative and quantitative data to increase the effectiveness of your DEI initiatives. It boosts the likelihood that they will continue to advance. 

The questions that leadership teams should pose to themselves in order to concentrate their efforts and keep going forward are also included in our Inclusion Maturity Assessment.

The three axes of our IMA model are Mindset, Behaviors, and Organizational Agility. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, a typical journey through these stages includes 4 elements: connecting top-down strategy, prioritizing soft skills over hard skills, focusing on the balance between minorities vs the group, and taking responsibility of DEI.

Lemon-Boost Inclusion Maturity Stages (proprietary Information):

Discover your inclusion maturity level to prioritize efforts for inclusive teamwork and organizational agility.

Stage 1: Compliant

In the realm of diversity, companies often navigate a landscape shaped by industry standards and governmental regulations. For many, meeting these requirements is a primary objective, leading to a phase of voluntary compliance where DEI goals are compared with those of competitors. Those competitors could be external or internal: comparing regions, countries, or business units within the same group.

During this compliance inclusion maturity stage, the prevailing mindset is often, ‘We implement DEI because it is required.’ However, despite meeting these standards, a concerning trend emerges where companies become stuck in this phase.

Compliance does not equate to maturity in diversity initiatives or alignment with overall organizational strategy. Even if diversity metrics appear promising at the frontline level, employees from minority groups may still encounter barriers to advancement or feel unsupported.

Progressing beyond the compliance stage presents its challenges, requiring genuine commitment from senior executives and managers who may not fully grasp the discrimination issues being addressed.

This  “tick the box” approach leverages HR policies and awareness training methods. Companies stay in the “technical” aspects of inclusion rather than addressing employees’ well-being, mindset, and behaviors. They are missing the opportunity for a long-term sustainable change.

DEI has to be done. So let's do this, minimally.
Inclusion maturity compliant
Compliance stage

Stage 2: Programmatic

In the programmatic stage, companies have moved beyond mere compliance with imposed regulations. They are actively engaged in implementing their own DEI initiatives. Those initiatives are often initiated from the bottom up and tailored to specific minority groups within the organization (Women, LGBTQ+, disabled people, Foreigners). Traditional training methods are commonly employed to address the needs of these minority groups. The leadership team is made aware of these initiatives.

While leaders are expected to provide support, they typically maintain a level of distance. they avoid personal involvement in the day-to-day execution of these initiatives.

In addition to traditional training methods, community guidelines and HR policies are established to support DEI efforts. All are focused on a specific group only. 

People who are part of the majority feel that women/foreigners are privileged compared to them. They show resilience and adherence to the traditional Japanese management style to advance in their careers. This sense of unfairness will resurface when interacting with women, foreigners, younger generation (the minority group): micro-aggressions, isolation, and lack of their support.

However, the programmatic stage limits the coordination among various initiatives is often lacking at this stage as it addresses only the minority.

Notably, the programmatic stage tends to focus heavily on technical aspects of DEI, while overlooking critical soft skills, mindsets, and behaviors. This is a shame, because they are essential to fostering a truly inclusive culture.

Let's focus on specific minorities groups only.
Inclusion maturity programmatic
Programmatic Stage

Stage 3: Strategic

In the strategic stage, of organizational development regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is key. Companies may witness the emergence of successful grassroots initiatives, such as employee resource groups (ERGs). Their teams establishing their own DEI processes.

For instance, HR might implement community guidelines for addressing micro-aggressions and let their employees practice them in a psychologically safe place. 

Some may be top-down initiatives, like commemorating Pride month. Otherwise, the actions are typically orchestrated independently by individual managers rather than being part of a cohesive organizational strategy. However, despite the presence of these grassroots efforts, companies in this stage often lack a strategic approach to DEI that permeates the entire business. It results in fragmented efforts and missed opportunities for impactful change.

Managers striving to exhibit inclusive leadership often require a structured approach. They want to persuade their peers to move away from traditional male-dominated methods. Those managers offers to serve as role models themselves. One potential solution is to formalize this support system. Lemon-Boost can assist managers trigger the change in inclusive leadership. The benefit is to  showcast their practices to others. Interestingly, our team provides precisely the solutions: a framework to empower managers at the forefront of inclusive leadership to demonstrate their strategies to their peers effectively. 

Executives encourage managers to learn and model new behaviors.
Inclusion maturity strategic
Strategic Stage

Stage 4: Integrated

In the integrated inclusion maturity stage, companies have successfully aligned internal and external efforts.  The top-down and the bottom-up approaches are bridged. At this stage, the organization has formulated a comprehensive DEI strategy. The inclusion culture is cultivated, and thoroughly assesses the impacts of discrimination and inequity on both internal and external stakeholders.

Specifically, women are applying for leadership roles, micro-aggressions are being sanctioned. The HR recruiting teams are being trained to think outside the traditional profile and be open to atypical experiences.

The primary objective is to proactively address the challenges minorities are facing. Companies at this stage can assert confidently that DEI is fully integrated into all aspects of their operations, reflecting a commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace culture.

DEI is part of our daily lives and is reflected in our corporate culture.
Inclusion maturity integrated
Integrated Stage

Stage 5: Trendsetter

Organizations that have integrated diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts into their corporate DNA have reached a trendsetter stage. This means that their commitment to DEI is deeply ingrained in their organizational culture and practices. As a result, their DEI initiatives are not only resilient but also capable of withstanding economic challenges and changes in leadership.

Moreover, leaders within these organizations prioritize continuous improvement in DEI practices. They reflect an ongoing commitment to fostering inclusivity.

Specifically, managers demonstrate at their level inclusive leadership daily. Teams work together in an agile way. Companies can take pride in having put an end to the rigidity and slowness inherent in the traditional Japanese management style.

These companies are not only internally focused but also publicly advocate for inclusive teamwork. They serve as role models for other organizations striving to enhance their DEI efforts. Through their exemplary practices and advocacy, they inspire and influence broader societal change toward greater diversity and inclusion.

While being disruptive, as a company, we are recognized as a Key Opinion Leader.
Inclusion maturity trendsetter
Leader Stage