We are living in an incredibly diverse world and people need new ways to think about and talk about diversity. Leaders need new skills to enable equity and inclusion and organizations need scalable ways to ensure that their diversity and inclusion initiatives are sustainable. Here are a few ways to take action on DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) to shift mindsets, behaviors and practices towards more equitable and inclusive leadership for individuals, teams and organizations.
1. Reveal relevant opportunities
The first step is about discovery — not setting an agenda or duplicating diversity initiatives that seem to be effective in other organizations. It involves gaining actual awareness of the different types of diversity within and across groups and how diversity, equity and inclusion plays out for individuals, teams and the organization as a whole. To set a direction, create alignment and generate commitment to DEI in organizations, leaders should articulate their individual and collective perspective.They have to consider how experiences of power and privilege may affect their approach and effectiveness and evaluate how the dynamics of DEI affect their marketplace and their business strategy. They can then engage others to identify the most relevant opportunities for change and select a few strategic actions that will drive the desired results.
2. Elevate equity
Without equity, efforts to promote diversity and inclusion are laudable but not sustainable. To enact equity is to provide all people with fair opportunities to attain their full potential. To make full progress on DEI, senior leaders first need to acknowledge societal inequities and recognize that, unintentionally, their own organization isn’t a level playing field. Different people enter the workforce and advance through their careers with unevenness of advantage, opportunity, privilege and power, so “fair opportunity” is not the same for everyone. When organizational leaders express their strongest motivation and barriers for countering inequity, set clear goals toward greater equity and then proceed to take action, they signal a commitment that becomes the foundation of the organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts.
3. Activate diversity
Diversity is the collective of differences and similarities that includes individual and organizational characteristics, values, beliefs, experiences, backgrounds and behaviors. Activating this diversity is a process that involves recognizing and engaging differences within the employee and customer base. It equips managers and teams to explore the impact of diversity on perspectives, assumptions, approaches and identify ways to enhance the contribution of all. It also includes defining expectations or metrics and setting clear goals.
4. Lead inclusively
Inclusion requires active, intentional and ongoing efforts to promote the full participation and sense of belonging of every key stakeholder. It involves policies and practices, but also the ability to envision and enact new ways of leading. Across levels and functions, leaders need to learn what is now required, interpreting inclusive leadership for their various groups or for different roles. They also need tools and support as they improve their ability to identify and mitigate bias, bringing out the best in others.
5. Change the conversation
The inability to have meaningful conversations contributes significantly to the unproductive relationships that develop across diversity divides. To work with those whose background and perspective is vastly different or whose leadership style is at odds, people at every organizational level need to have effective conversations. Start fostering direct conversations about EDI to break down silos and communication barriers. By improving the quality of an organization’s everyday conversations, a culture of increased openness, respect for differences and understanding will be slowly developed, fuelling better collaboration, more innovation and greater effectiveness.
6. Map network connections across boundaries
Network analysis is one powerful tool to help organizations understand how they are inadvertently creating inequity or preventing the inclusion of diverse people and perspectives. Conducting a network analysis with customized surveys or data collection through email traffic can be used to map patterns of relationship and interactions that are more often than not hidden. The results typically reveal over-reliance on a few people or groups, as well as those who are isolated or have valuable and relevant expertise, perspective or connections that are underutilized. Leaders can then see how unintentional bias is built into their networks and the way it creates limitations for them and their teams. By using this information, they can identify additional people or groups they are not accessing, set goals to diversify their network and take steps to engage others and build connections across organizational silos; making sure that teams understand why they should collaborate across boundaries.
7. Boost coaching and mentoring
Due to unconscious bias or systems of power, people who are not similar to their manager or the organization’s dominant leader type do not have equitable access to people who can steer them towards valuable experiences and support them through the inevitable challenges. Organizations can counteract against this subtle bias by implementing a coaching culture and developing the coaching skills of their employees, through the creation of a network of champions to enable the development, contributions and career growth of all employees. Managers can ensure all their direct reports are heard and offered opportunities while mentors can provide guidance, feedback and support when needed.
8. Analyze talent practices
Talent processes reflect and create norms which can be levers for system-wide change. Organizations should review systems and practices related to recruiting, hiring and promoting talent. They should also help managers and teams evaluate policies that create the structures for how work gets done and shape the employee experience — and look for ways that unconscious bias creeps in or potential areas which require rethinking and improvement.
9. Go deeper on identity
Social identity fuels our distinct perspective and often defines sources of power and privilege. Much of inequity is driven by long-established structures, unconscious assumptions and experiences linked to social identity. Through communication, training and conversations, people can learn to recognize how their own social identity subtly influences the way they interact with others and the biases they unconsciously hold. By defining diversity through a lens of social identity, all employees have a way to put themselves into a discussion of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Many companies are looking for new, more effective ways to attract, retain, engage, and enable a diverse workforce. By identifying and engaging these key actions, organizational leaders can fast-forward positive, more equitable outcomes and begin to fully appreciate and make full use of all their talent. Having trouble searching for a company that displays these values? Look no further and join us at AwanTunai today!