Woah, you’ve got 13 blindspots with DE&I you need to keep an eye on . . .
Ok, so your DE&I program is off and running – WOOHOO! Congratulations on committing to a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. Now let’s take a quick look at your processes to ensure these hard-to-see missteps aren’t chipping away at your success. You might want to grab something to take notes with, cuz we’ll most likely have work to do when we’re done.
1. Guess what,… your staff might not know you’re working on DE&I.
There are people in your organization that still do not know you have a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Program. And just as important, there are valuable resources and partners, both current and potential that don’t know either. YIKES!
2. Taking big bold steps is awesome, but too many at a time can really trip you up.
Lofty aspirations are great and necessary for strategic planning, however where the policy meets the people, it’s best to focus your energy and resources on a few, achievable goals. BEGIN and BUILD on your success to gain critical support, momentum, and sustainability.
3. A cookie-cutter approach? Really, I mean,… what could be less diverse?
Your program is not tailored to your organizational needs. Addressing issues that directly relate to the DE&I challenges of your people and their work environment is key to success. This personalized approach makes it easy to implement, support, and sustain.
4. If you fear simplicity, you’re leaving little room for imagination.
If your DE&I program reads like a battle plan for the invasion of Normandy, you’ll lose your audience. Keep it simple, readable, and doable! Simplifying and adding fun to the program DOES NOT MINIMIZE importance, on the contrary, it decreases anxiety and increases participation. #KISS
5. Your DE&I “hot topic”, is perceived as a “hot stove”, and you’re people won’t touch it with a ten-foot pole.
It is important to be passionate and motivate your organization. It is also important to state that we are human and that we will make mistakes. Include procedures and provide support for those who have difficulty navigating change. Those who struggle and remain in the organization are demonstrating GROWTH AND PROGRESS. They are not to be labeled the problem, they are to be resourced and celebrated as the solution.
6. Perhaps you’ve forgotten that DE&I is all about your people, not the data used to define them?
You’re impatient and reaching for DATA instead of reaching out to your people. If you want to BE diverse, equitable & inclusive, you must DO the things that make you such. There is only so much time and energy available to us in one day so instead of demanding numbers, demonstrate your personal commitment by connecting with your people to get a sense of progress. #RESPECT
People make the program work, but they will come and go. Standard DE&I operating procedures serve as living documents and are the foundation for sustainability so keep them clear, simple, and executable. Allow leaders to “make them their own”, and you will inspire support at every level of your organization.
8. Your DE&I renovation is being limited by an organizational structure that you’re reluctant to demolition. Swing that hammer!
In order to maximize participation and achieve compounding positive effects, your DE&I program should specifically address the synergy of diverse departments, people, and skillsets. By removing traditional barriers that compartmentalize professional development, synergy creates promotion opportunities, fosters cooperation, accelerates achievement, and boosts employee satisfaction that leads to retained institutional knowledge. WIN!
9. I’ve got this! Great if it’s written on your bathroom mirror, bad if it’s got your staff wondering what their role in DE&I is.
Ok omnipotent one, loosen your grip and give power to the people! Resist the temptation to control information and resources. Instead, inspire your employees to support the DE&I program with an authentic desire to treat others the way they wish to be treated. Guide them, motivate them, and most importantly, EMPOWER them.
10. You probably have lots of allies and champions in your midst that are simply waiting for a personal invitation.
Your inclusive, diverse & equitable culture begins with an invitation. Focus on your approach and language. What does your invitation look, sound, and feel like? If you received it, would you want to participate? Approach it simply, positively, and with a commitment that makes everyone want to engage. You have everything AND everyone to gain.
11. The “Great Resignation” had as much to do with self-respect as it did with perceived quality of life.
Unfortunately, the customer is NOT always right. Especially when their words and behavior are contrary to your organizational beliefs and practices. DO NOT MAKE the mistake of putting a disparaging customer’s dollar value over that of your people and organization. If money is all that talks, then your people are sure to walk.
12. Imagine being asked to do EVEN MORE for the good of the organization, out of the kindness of your heart, that should ALLREADY be a part of the culture.
You’re not compensating those people committed to the success of your DE&I program. I’m pretty certain you want a greater commitment than that equal to an after-school program. If you’ve determined this to be a priority, PROVE IT. Invest in the people who are stepping up to make your organization exceptional. There are many creative ways to do so if you truly value the benefits you seek.
13. I’m afraid you’re getting exactly what you pay for.
Yes, this old but true adage is worth mentioning again – the first was in #12 above with regards to your people. Now let’s talk about the valuable resources out there that can be of great help to your DE&I program. Emphasis on VALUE. Whether you’re at the beginning, growth, or sustainment phase of your program, those resources are valuable because of the time, energy, and experience they bring to your conference table. Create a budget, get clear on what you want, and then commit to investing in the talent best suited to help you achieve success.
Todd Kane is an author, speaker, and architect of diverse, equitable, and inclusive cultures.