Updated: May 19, 2021
Addressing Organizational Culture at the Core of DEI Strategy
Over the past few decades, Organizations have grappled with change and transformation. Most organizational change is driven by technological advancements, going global, employee retention goals, or public relations efforts. Lately (and exponentially since 2020), companies have made considerable investments in D&I, DEI, DEIB, JEDI, Supplier Diversity, and other programs that promote the value of diversity in the workplace. We've all read the position statements and attended the mandatory training about D&I, but how many people are seeing real change in the culture and how their teams think about doing our work? We don’t see the difference because we tend to throw a generalized approach to a specific problem and culture.
Every organization has a personality, and it will adopt change and adapt from that position. We can't get where we are going if we don't know where we are, and that means knowing who you are, for real. Transformative change begins with a realistic view of the position of the Organization.
Visualizing the Transformation.
When we say we want diversity or inclusion, how does it look, and how does it feel?
Does being diverse mean we want to create a more welcoming culture for people of different ethnic backgrounds? A place where women are empowered to add their perspectives. A place where differently-abled people are supported and given the tools they need to be successful? These are all perfectly noble aspirational ideas, but we can't get there from here.
Take a look in the Mirror.
At its core, diversity means composed of different elements, and for our purposes, we can paraphrase it as consisting of different people and their different ideas. Implementing these ideas and creating a more diverse and inclusive culture can seem overwhelming. As a Leader or People Manager in your Organization, you can affect change. Consider a mini self-assessment when you are in your next staff meeting.
“Is my team a good representation of our city?”
“Do we have a variety of perspectives represented in this conversation?”
Then ask yourself why not? We didn't get here by accident. Your team was curated by intelligent, hard-working people unconsciously basing their hiring decisions on ideas about the corporate strategy and corporate culture. The employee referrals, recruiters, and hiring managers worked together to select a team based on an understanding of who you are as an organization and who would be a good cultural “fit” for your team. For the most part, they were right. Right? I mean, your team is incredible. You are effective. Productive. You are achieving goals and bringing fresh ideas. How do we know for sure that a more diverse group would make it any better? Honestly, I don’t want to let anyone go in the name of diversity. How can we do “diversity” with who is on the team now?
Start from here, not from scratch.
Start from here. Whoever your team is today, take the time and acknowledge and value each person’s background, perspectives, experiences, and ideas.
Take the first steps to analyze and assess where you are today.
Define a plan that addresses strategic actions for the future.
Lastly, ensure everyone in the organization understands how they fit into the strategy and how they can help make it more successful.
Our next article will dig into how you can craft a plan to build the type of culture you visualize for your organization.
This article is part of a series presented by The Wonder Group, a Strategic Consulting firm.
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