Organizations invest in DEIB initiatives for the sake of creating more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces; workplaces where employees feel a true sense of belonging. The investment typically starts as a response to local or national news of racial violence in the form of leadership and development training for the company. While this is a great place to start, we believe that there is a definitive recipe for success that, if understood and embraced, can serve as the foundation for a game-changing paradigm at work. We want you to attract, retain, and mobilize your people in ways that help your company become the robust and diverse workplace culture needed urgently, both now and into the future. We want you to stay relevant in these times so that you can fuel the strategy and performance that you seek. We want the energetic connections among your people to be powerful, collaborative, and effective.
Use Your Catalyst to Create Connection
For every leader and workplace, a catalytic event is where your commitment to building inclusivity is first awakened. It could be a pull to join the Black Lives Matter movement, a desire to respond to news of yet another Black man killed by police, taking a stand against Asian Violence, or change in the form of NASDAQ requiring Board diversity. Your catalytic event can be the passion and driver for change. Know this driver, and use it to orient and align your employees towards the stand that you are wanting to take now together. Build room for a movement from within, with grassroots involvement, conversations, and energy, so that this belief, this catalyst, serves to connect people to one another, providing the foundation for a more diverse, authentic, compassionate, and empathetic company culture.
Center on Needs and Experiences of People of Color
Centering is where we place our attention when we speak, design training and workshops, or create policies and programs. If historically, your company culture has evolved with white faces predominantly in leadership roles or policies created with white men overwhelmingly in mind, DEIB work helps create balance and reorient practices towards meeting a more diverse set of needs, experiences, and backgrounds across gender, race, and ethnicity. It takes mindful practice to intentionally shift where our attention has traditionally been to the needs and experiences of people whose needs have not been considered. No one loses; instead, you gain an authentically more inclusive and equitable workplace. Are you inviting people of color into key stakeholder conversations and decisions that affect employee experiences, policies, and culture? Are you creating psychological and emotional safety for people of color to belong and participate fully in the workplace? If not, center their voices and input and begin to work together.
DEIB is at the Heart of Organizational Change
Ultimately, having a diverse employee population that can see, hear, and value one another is a great asset to have. By having people place value on their interconnectedness and on the relationships that bring them together, you are reinforcing the core strength of your organization that will see you through uncertain times and hardships. By providing workshops and training such as Conscious Allyship, Unconscious Bias, Trust and Transparency, and Non-Violent Communication, you are deepening your foundation for a healthy culture, one that can sustain you through challenging and turbulent times. Employees need to be able to see beyond stereotypes and biases to connect and care about one another as individual human beings. Co-workers who care perform with higher engagement and better outcomes. Diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging matter to your bottom line.
Everyone Plays a Role
Engagement is a recipe for success:
- CEO and Leadership Teams need to be strategically aligned, and champion, model and be involved in DEIB work, particularly as it pertains to equity
- Ensure high functioning partnerships between the DEI Lead, CHRO, and ERGs or Affinity Groups
- Invest in ERG DEIB work as the pilot program for increasing inclusion and belonging throughout the organization; learn from them by listening to the voices of people of color and what’s important to them within the organization
- Frame the role of managers as “active practitioners” of DEIB work and by listening to the ERGs, actively soliciting feedback from staff, and sharing with Leadership what they are learning “in the field”
- Invite all staff to be allies and engage in consistent and regular training and dialogue offered by the company
When these elements come together, companies find they can have a robust, regenerative program that is more easily sustained, where people are drawn to participate and contribute more fully, rather than “imposing” or “layering on” DEIB work over your strategic initiatives. The truth is, they go together.
Are you Ready?… Let’s create a DEIB Plan!
There are three basic stages of evolution for companies vis-a-vis their capacity for leading DEIB initiatives for themselves:
- Early Stage companies have few programs, no dedicated staff for DEIB work, and find themselves reacting to events rather than responding to them proactively.
- Growth Stage companies have conducted workshops and trainings and have ERG or Affinity Groups in place, with perhaps even a part-time or volunteer DEIB leader who is clearly identified. At this stage, many have already worked with a DEIB consultant at some level.
- Regenerative is when companies take the reins with confidence. They have a dedicated leader whose role it is to lead, curate, collaborate, and communicate the values that allow a community to foster belonging, inclusion, and equity together. There is an eagerness, a hunger to work together and hear one another; it is the work of many, distributed across the organization, and held as shared responsibility even though there may be a centralized leader in charge. Regenerative companies become role models or case studies for other organizations to learn from and with.
The Time is Now
The world is changing. Landmark shifts are supporting a more equitable world where justice and reparations are possible. Creating a world where equanimity leads the way is possible. We invite you and those you influence and support to cross the threshold together and commit to becoming lifelong conscious allies. We are all needed now; your impact, your company, your alignment matter. Your commitment creates the change we can ALL benefit from.