This entry comes from my latest book…
I’ve been watching a client battle to retool its corporate culture. One of its current initiatives includes a Diversity & Inclusion Program that is aimed at helping the firm form a high performance work setting that capitalizes on the diversity of the individuals comprising its workforce.
The program, still in its early stages, has pointed to the need for establishing a culture where individual differences among workers are recognized as valuable ingredients in achieving the best business outcomes for the company.
This is, of course, a dramatic departure from where most companies are today in regard to managing workforce diversity. It seems that most of the organizations that I’ve had an opportunity to work with have adopted a “color blindness” and “gender neutrality” that seems to have the effect of ignoring, rather than, recognizing and leveraging individual employee differences. When the goals of this program are truly realized, the company that I’m speaking of will surely have an edge over its competition.
But, beware! These kinds of strategic initiatives, like any significant cultural change, are susceptible to misinterpretation. Because momentous change doesn’t happen over night, all kinds of good intentioned people can get in the way of true transformation.
The Diversity & Inclusion Program can quickly become the Adversity & Delusion Program, if the organization does not remain diligent in evolving itself through the stages of maturity that such change management requires, and allow the thoughts and principles that underpin the initiative to become better understood and communicated across the concern.
Because of its inherent nuances, it’s likely that many individuals will interpret the Diversity & Inclusion Program to be about the democratization of consensus building – where every worker has an equal “vote” in decision-making and direction setting. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth!
In fact, diversity and inclusion is really about disagreement. It’s promoting the notion that it’s acceptable to disagree (diversity) as long as everyone has an opportunity to contribute their ideas and thoughts, and that those contributions are recognized and considered equally, regardless of the contributor (inclusion).
Obviously, some workers may falsely think that they now have a “say” in direction setting, those workers possessing more experience and knowledge (and whom, indeed, have decision-making responsibility) may face extreme adversity as they attempt to continue to set the right direction. They can be called to task for not being inclusive by those feeling excluded (under a misinformed definition of inclusion).
Don’t let this happen to you.
Just give us a call. You can count on the Best Practices Enterprise Group to help you navigate through the tough issues associated with getting a Diversity & Inclusion Program off-the-ground.