How to Promote Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Your WorkplaceSep 09, 2021
The events of the last year and a half have made addressing Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace a priority. For good reason, there has been a renewed focus on this topic. It’s not an initiative, it’s not a flavor of the month. In fact – it’s more than just diversity and inclusion … it’s JEDI (justice, equity, diversity and inclusion) … it’s IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, acceptance).
I’ve heard from a lot of leaders over the last few months about work under way to bring diversity, equity and inclusion to the forefront of their organizations’ culture. They have the best intentions. They are prepared to take their organization through some serious change management. But almost across the board – they’ve forgotten a very, VERY big step.
You are embarking on a systematic approach to deal with transition or transformation within your organization. In order to transform you need to have a vision of where you want to go ... AND you have to know where you are coming from. What I am seeing is lots of organizations that have a big, bold vision. But they haven’t taken the time to understand where they are coming.
Maybe it’s a rush to get to the vision.
Maybe, especially in this case, it’s a fear of admitting the current state.
Regardless of the reason – not understanding your starting point is a recipe for failure.
I had the opportunity earlier this year to participate in a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace certificate program through the University of South Florida Muma College of Business. It was a wonderful experience, sponsored by the Tampa Bay Lightning and Jabil. The program was seven weeks long and included a wide range of topics presented by experts across the public and private sector, culminating with how to build a sustainable DE&I business model, and how to make DE&I a part of your company’s culture.
The most often quoted definition of sustainability may be “meeting the needs of the current, without jeopardizing the needs of future generations”. That means that when you are building a DE&I strategy – it needs to not only meet the needs of your organization today, but it must be flexible enough to meet your future needs. I love this concept of a balanced approach -- focusing on the immediate needs, with an eye to the future.
They introduced 3 key steps to making diversity, equity and inclusion a sustainable part of your business model: assessment, vision and plan.
The first step to developing this sustainable DE&I business model is to gather information and gain an understanding of your organization's starting point.
Simply put – you need to know where you are now in order to create a roadmap to where you are going.
Imagine going to the map on your smartphone and asking for directions to Walt Disney World … and not providing your starting point. It would be like the directions you see on some websites … if you’re coming from the airport … if you’re coming north from Miami … if you’re coming south from Jacksonville …. if you’re coming east from Tampa …. these will each result in different directions. The directions are always based on your starting point!
This step is imperative as you can't build a plan to move forward if you don't know where you are coming from.
You should start by asking a couple of questions, and you need to be honest with yourself. Imagine saying “I’m in Miami, but the directions from the Airport are a lot easier”. You have to be honest about where you are starting! Some topics to consider include:
- How decisions are made
- The purpose, mission and values of your organization
- Current Diversity, Equity and Inclusion policies and initiatives
- Recent employee survey results
- Perceived barriers to implementing DEI initiatives
Now it’s time to determine where you want your roadmap to take you. What does success look like? Just like you have to know you are coming from Tampa … you have to know where you are heading ... to Disney.
- What would your organization look like if it was fully diverse, equitable and inclusive?
- How would it change – work, performance, employees, products?
- What would it look like if DE&I was fully embedded? Consider every aspect of your business.
- During this phase it’s important to be bold. Think beyond what may seem possible. It’s OK to start small as it relates to planning and implementation – but the vision should be BIG.
- Challenge yourself.
- Involve others.
- Draw a picture to make the vision real.
- Think of other organizations that have done this really well – and then consider how to customize and improve upon that for your organization.
Plan and Implement
This is go time! This is where you draft your DE&I policy. Remember my blog on bringing your idea to implemented reality? Dust that off – it will add a ton of value here!
Gain input from all stakeholders. Get buy-in so that everyone is invested. Include hiring, onboarding, training, reporting, performance management.
When you think you are done … go back to the drawing board. This is a journey, not a destination.
If things get quiet and you think you’ve “whew, we made it” – get back to assessing. Continue to evolve the vision. Dust off and add to the plan. You’re never finished.
As Moez Limayem, Dean at Muma College of Business, University of South Florida said during our virtual graduation … learning all of this content, that’s the easy part. The hard work is ahead.
It’s time for you to get to work. Is establishing a sustainable diversity, equity and inclusion culture a priority for your organization this year? Have you been honest about where you are starting? Do you have a lofty vision? Do you have a realistic plan in place to meet your objectives?
Sometimes having the best intentions is just the first step. If you have a vision that you need to validate. Or you need help kicking off this work – I’d love to be a part of that process.
This whole concept of diversity, equity and inclusion (and justice and acceptance) truly is a journey. We are all learning. No one expects perfection – what’s expected is progress and transparency. Let’s jump on a call and co-create your DE&I change management roadmap – understanding where you are, defining where you want to be, and a plan to bridge the gap.
Let’s do this!
About Me: I'm Heather Havey and my consulting business helps visionary leaders bring their big ideas to implemented reality. I’m passionate about efficiency and business transformation, and I will empower you to accelerate the achievement of your big goals. I offer customized, no-nonsense, real-world solutions designed to position you as the hero in the reinvention of your business.
Check out options for how we may be able to work together at https://www.heatherhaveyconsulting.com/services .
And if you think you could benefit from having an expert partner with real-world, action-oriented change solutions that will absolutely work, let’s chat. In your free strategy session, we’ll get those ideas out of the clouds and onto the road to results. Schedule a complimentary strategy session to talk about bringing your vision to life.