For decades, organizations have struggled to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive. Making a culture shift is a complex and challenging proposition. Organizations often look for the quick fix, but unfortunately cultures do not shift easily. That said, cultures must be managed or they will manage you. In this case, society is demanding more inclusive and equitable workplaces. Organizations that are able to make this shift will attract and retain a more talented workforce – and their future may in fact depend on it!
Changing the culture requires a three-pronged approach:
- Start with changing underlying beliefs of leaders and front-line managers. We recommend training programs that go deep and are based on transformational learning principles. Building cultural fluency will help people engage on topics of diversity, rather than avoiding them or awkwardly fumbling those opportunities. Transcend has partnered with thought leaders to develop its Racial Equity through Action Learning (REAL) training program to help people shift their thinking and build cultural fluency.
- Create a vision and imbed DEI into the organization's values. When the organization is able to articulate inclusive values that is a good start. When they are able to help employees understand how those values impact everyday decisions, that is where the magic takes place.
- Insert DEI values in to the organization’s infrastructure. This happens in a number of ways; here are some examples: a) incorporating DEI in to the performance management system, b) talking about DEI issues in meetings and town-hall forums, c) ensuring DEI is included in employee engagement and pulse surveys, d) having employee resource groups for traditionally marginalized employees and e) having a purchasing equity program.
Many organizations start at the surface and focus on #3 above. Unfortunately doing the “surface work” of DEI does not by itself change the culture and sometimes can even lead to negative effects, such as tokenism and “flavor of the day” syndrome. If you and/or your organization are interested in making a real culture shift, we hope you keep these principles in mind. We are also available to talk to you about your specific circumstance and would love the opportunity to discuss your situation. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-804-0862.