DIVERSITY. EQUITY. INCLUSION.
Although these are independent, all-encompassing nouns, their interconnected success relies on the transformation of the words from nouns to verbs — from serving as thoughts to becoming actions. We want to create space for more and deeper inclusivity. This requires us to shift from examination of thinking to the work of belongingness and advocacy, if not activism. As leaders seeking to learn and grow ourselves and our organizations, it is our duty to implement expanded ways of thinking into our practice.
MOVE FROM INCLUSIVE THOUGHTS TO ACTION
Movement from thinking to action is a skill that we intentionally develop. This quote by Nelson Mandela illustrates the power of a transformative skillset at the highest level of human existence:
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
We can’t change an organization without first changing the people. In the realm of organizational excellence, we often coach that leaders model what right looks like for charting new territory with their teams. Leaders are the change agents for our organizations. To move diversity, equity and inclusion from an exercise in thinking to meaningful actions, we begin by asking five questions of our leadership:
- Does our decision-making table (hiring, curriculum decisions, operations, etc.) have representation from all the demographics that we employ and/or serve? This answer reveals whether there is shared leadership in decision-making.
- In what areas are we collecting demographic information? Do we collect data beyond what is required? This question focuses on where processes are taking place such as admissions applications, standard forms, etc.
- Are we cultivating a sense of belonging? Here, leaders scan the environment and discuss community building.
- Have we integrated diversity and inclusion into job descriptions and the roles/responsibilities of team members? This displays an organization’s readiness for integrated action.
- Are we engaging department and team leaders in active and regular conversations related to diversity and inclusion? Here we dig into advocacy and the representation at various levels of the organization.
CHART A PATH FOR CHANGE
The information we receive from anyone or a combination of these responses positions leaders at a solid place to begin. This understanding of organizational readiness for change related to diversity, equity and inclusion serve as a guidepost for leaders. Next, we can chart a path to inspire changes for individuals on our teams. We want to plan shifts that include giving more people access to participation, leadership and decision-making in their organization. True diversity, equity, and inclusion starts with representation and action at all levels.
It is time for leaders to move from thinking to action around diversity, equity, and inclusion in our organizations. Hear more about cultivating inclusive conversations with your team by listening to episode #149: The 3-Stage Framework for Inclusive Conversations of the Accelerate Your Performance podcast. In this episode, I joined Dr. Janet Pilcher to discuss how to create a space for shared understanding and experiences in the workplace. Listen here. >>