From Little Moments Big Cultures Grow
“What if I make things… worse?”
We might be naming your inside fears with that intro, but when it comes to taking action on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, it requires taking an honest look at ourselves.
From deciding who gets an invite to critical meetings, to speaking up respectfully when you notice harmful behavior… sometimes you encounter a gap between wanting to do the right thing and knowing how to do it.
What if, instead of freezing with the fear of a misstep, you already had the foundation for action to champion change? To cultivate and contribute to a culture that elevates everyone?
YOUR NEXT “LITTLE MOMENT”
You may not have caused racism or systemic oppression, but as leaders, we have inherited them to fix.
With a little courage (and support from a trusted guide) you can safely grasp the many “little moments” to make a change in places you have the power to influence.
The questions we must answer are…
- Where do we start?
- How do we create a better future?
- What is the right next thing to do?
The 3 Stages of DEIB Maturity
Before you identify your organization’s maturity level below, be aware of 2 core perspectives when it comes to DEIB work:
- Where your organization sits in DEIB maturity is not a qualitative judgment of your company, culture, or your team. The critical focus here is that you engage in the action that makes the best sense for your organization to grow or strengthen its DEIB work.
- Nearly everyone in your team will have a different level of exposure to DEIB work and different lived experience with racism and oppression (systemic or individual). Identifying the true level of your company’s DEIB maturity is not about who is in your team, it’s about the company culture on its own.
Here’s how to identify which stage your organization is at, and some suggestions for next best steps:
STAGE 1: EARLY
A company in this stage if the organization is new to DEIB work.
How to recognize this stage:
- A diversity statement exists on the website although it’s not truly a touchstone in the workplace
- No dedicated DEIB staff appear on the org chart (separate to the HR department)
- DEIB workshops (whether all hands or focus group) are rare or haven’t been run yet
- The budget doesn’t include a dedicated category for DEIB initiatives or support resources
- Internal events dictate the DEIB policy on a case-by-case basis, creating a reactionary cycle rather than a proactive culture
Suggested next best step for Early Stage Companies:
- Channel your eagerness (or urgency) for change, into a deeper understanding of where your DEIB gaps are right now. Draw the map of your culture’s strengths and areas to improve. Once you’ve identified clear targets, then tailor fit diversity, equity, and inclusion training for your team.
- You wouldn’t immediately launch a product into an un-researched market – bring this same perspective to DEIB work. Begin with some research to understand where you are – functionally, relationally, and emotionally.
At Intune, we gather data to draw our clients’ cultural maps through what we call Curiosity Conversations. Direct message me, Christine Hildebrand, CEO, to learn more.
STAGE 2: GROWTH
At this stage, organizations have consciously introduced DEIB efforts but still have doubts, bushfires, and ad hoc solutions that impact DEIB and business outcomes.
How to recognize this stage:
- A dedicated DEIB budget, staff, strategy, and/or training appear in some form.
- Often there will be enough to tick the DEIB box, though the impact is less clear and the limits to what is delivered to the organization are regularly tested
- DEIB is seen as secondary to business outcomes
- Indicators like pay gaps and staff homogeneity (among others) may not be consistently measured or visible company wide. These may also not be acknowledged as business goals.
Suggested next best step for Growth Stage Companies:
- Take pride in the steps you’ve accomplished and recognize the economic and social benefits to the company by taking your initiatives even further. Develop comprehensive, robust strategy, OKRs, and internal comms around DEIB.
- At this point the skeleton for robust DEIB strategy (and activation) is there. It’s usually a question of bridging gaps and weaving stronger connections between parts of the strategy.
We’ve seen most of our Growth Stage clients advance to the next stage through detailed DEIB communication plans and leadership team coaching.
STAGE 3: REGENERATIVE
This final stage is when DEIB is a core touchstone of company culture and team members regularly query, discuss, and refer to the core messages in the DEIB communication strategy.
How to recognize this stage:
- Nearly all DEIB initiatives and strategy is led in-house
- C-level includes a Chief of DEIB separate from HR or People Ops
- Robust strategy and internal communication plan is in place for DEIB work
- Regular DEIB trainings and workshops for leaders and staff
- Culture remains stable, diverse, and inclusive even with turnover, new hires, or (rare) bushfires
Suggestions for the next best steps for Regenerative Stage Companies:
- The goal here is to sustain progress with minimal outside maintenance. Ensuring that DEIB is as much a part of the culture in practice as it is in spirit.
- Focus on developing systems of communication and fostering community around DEIB initiatives, ensuring they become cultural keystones. Where it makes sense, tie DEIB OKRs to bonus structures at the department and individual levels.
At this point, a DEIB consultant is only required from time to time and might suggest a purpose-built workshop, leadership training, communication plan, or strategy adjustment. There is widespread commitment and understanding that DEIB work is human development and can only move at the speed of the relationships in the system.
THE FINAL KEY LESSON
No matter what stage of DEIB growth your organization is at right now, it can be daunting to move forward alone. Rather than freeze, reach out. This is a rare situation where you’re not expected to have all the answers, even though you might bear the responsibility.
For leaders taking the courage to truly move the needle on their DEIB initiatives, reach out to our Chief of Innovation and Learning, Wendy Horng Brawer, for support and guidance today.
Additional DEIB Resources
- Podcast: Corporate Racial Equity – Grow Your Business, Team & Impact In DEI with Nikki Lanier, JD
- Podcast: The Role of White Leaders In Achieving Racial Equity with Karn Fleshman & Jared Karol
- Article: DEIB Lessons from the Frontline
- Article: Three Steps to Foster Belonging & Fuel Performance In Business Today