ACHIEVING DIVERSITY OBJECTIVES...
The business benefits of creating a diverse and inclusive workforce are clear. Diversity and Inclusion must always be about enhancing productivity by accessin talent despite its provenance.
But creating a positive and inclusive workplace culture requires people to become aware of unconscious thoughts and beliefs that can impact their decisions and behaviours. After realising how personal biases and resulting actions can preclude an inclusive workplace, people can be empowered to change unconscious bias assumptions, which are often based on stereotypes.
There is also the sensitive nature of diversity to consider which quite often makes people reluctant to share their challenges.
ACCOUNTABILITY ALONE DOES NOT WORK
Firms typically launch diversity programs by providing D&I training and creating accountability. But when programmes fail to drive change, they aren’t always sure where to look for solutions.
One common reason is a lack of understanding among senior leaders and middle managers of exactly how to effect change. Another is a lack of support, perceived or real, for managers as they work to influence years’ or even decades’ worth of entrenched behaviour.
Jennifer Brown, author of Inclusion: Diversity, The New Workplace & The Will to Change, often hears about companies that set up accountability metrics tied to compensation and then find that leaders fail to meet their goals. In these situations, she often finds that the leaders don’t know where to start or, in some cases, that larger organisational issues are negatively affecting their ability to drive change.
Organisations that just impose penalties without both looking at the bigger picture and working alongside their leaders can easily end up with the same result as if they hadn’t launched a diversity effort at all.
“Over the years, I’ve heard of leaders who have walked away from bonuses tied to diversity and inclusion. They didn’t know how to achieve the goals the organization set for them, and they didn’t even know where to start. So they just left the money on the table,” said Brown.
LEARNING ABOUT WHAT I DO
- I IMPROVE THE CLIENTS BUSINESS
- I MANAGE CHANGE
- I MANAGE CREATIVE DESTRUCTION
- I LEVERAGE DISRUPTION
- I CREATE INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY
- I CREATE BUSINESS STRATEGY
- I PROVIDE NON EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ADVISORY
- I INCREASE YIELD AND PROFITABILITY
A DIFFERENT APPRAOCH
Conversely, when organizations tie bonuses to diversity hiring goals, they can unwittingly encourage managers to make sub-optimal decisions to achieve bonus. Worse, this can lead to discriminatory decision-making and expose the organisation to legal jeopardy.
One approach to avoiding this problem is to create incentives for improving the pool of qualified, diverse applicants. When recruiters attract skilled and diverse talent, the organization should see an increase in diverse hires. A related strategy, especially for senior positions, is to implement a recruitment practise , which requires at least one under-represented minority and one female to be part of the applicant pool.
FIVE IMPORTANT STEPS
- A single action or program doesn’t provide the level of support necessary for lasting change.
If senior executives take the following five actions, managers and leaders can get the support they need to drive change within their departments.
Engage with Leaders to Brainstorm Solutions
Instead of telling leaders what to do, brainstorm together for ideas to help meet diversity goals. Often middle managers have a clearer view of the issues than senior executives do. Leaders often feel more engaged in the solution when involved in the process.
Provide Mentors to Your Leaders
Find another leader at the same level who is meeting their goals and pair them with a leader who’s struggling. Leaders often share and relate to peers in a different way than they do with superiors.
Provide a Safe Environment for Leaders to Share Thoughts, Concerns, and Fears.
Conversations about diversity can elicit emotional reactions. Leaders must feel safe from repercussions to share openly throughout the process.
Have Regular Check-In Sessions throughout the Accountability Period.
Companies often set goals and then leave the leader alone until the accountability period ends, which increases the chance of failure. By having regular meetings, leaders can work closely with the diversity team and change course if goals are at risk. Consider the Impact of Company- or Industry-Wide Challenges on Goals. Sometimes the reason a leader fails to meet diversity goals has nothing to do with the leader’s individual actions. When a leader isn’t meeting goals, look at the whole picture to determine whether larger organizational issues or external factors are a contributing or root cause.