No More Band-Aids
“Managers of companies, big and small, all want to do well, so they make decisions, hire consultants and implement systems to help the achieve the desired outcome. But all too often, it is not the systems that fail but the ability to maintain them.”
— Simon Sinek, Start with Why
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programming is often times treated like a band aid — a one-time workshop, a paragraph in a handbook, a video that is only watched during new hire orientations. In the last month, we have also started to see, from every sector, public statements about committing to DEI. And while these statements, workshops, trainings are all important, companies need to start truly planning and committing to what is next. What action steps must companies take to change habits and behaviors long term? Habits are actions repeated over time, which means in order to undo a habit, you must be committed to creating long-term, ongoing changes within your organization and on an individual level.
It starts with leadership
If leaders do not truly understand how their team is homogenous and how diversity is hurting them, they won’t understand how diversity can help them or why it matters in the workplace. Leadership not only sets goals but the overall tone for their companies. If you’re a leader, it’s time to return to your mission statement and purpose. What are you aiming to do and who are you meant to serve? If diversity is not reflected there, it’s time reexamine. Your mission statement will set the direction for everything you do.
Do the hard numbers and be honest
What are the real demographics of your leadership and overall team? Who received promotions and raises this past year? Who are your partners? Who spoke at conferences you attended? Be honest about your DEI numbers across the board. The more honest you are, the more able you will be to set practical goals for growth.
As with any plan, you will need to identify KPIs that help you track progress and success for your DEI work. This work isn’t just about non-discrimination in the workplace, it’s about equity. And to achieve equity, structural systems and practices will all need to be changed. Is your current executive team all white? What is your one year, five year and ten year plan to change that? Create new goals and schedule time to evaluate your progress along the way.
Microaggressions, unfair hiring and promotion practices — often times these are unconscious behaviors. It’s difficult to change what you know to be the norm. You must reexamine and change those aspects that are counterproductive to your goal. For example, if your team tends to work in silos, or rather only certain team members gather, that’s an indication that you may need to cultivate collaboration and bonding with teammates. From a small level, this will help to create an inclusive environment. Organizations are comprised of individuals, a corporate commitment begins with leadership but then it must be reflected in each and every individual. To shift culture, it is going to be a team effort. If not everyone is aligned with the goal or the understanding for diversity in the first place, change will not be possible.
You have to create the culture you want to see. It doesn’t just happen and it is not going to happen overnight. And you have to maintain healthy habits and practices in order to maintain a positive environment. Especially as teams grow and change, new team members will contribute to and influence the culture. Attract the right professionals to support that. And if you need help along the way, just give us a call.