With everything going on in American society these days, it’s easy to see why diversity, equity, and inclusion are hot topics. And, in workplaces, employers have issued commitment statements, formed committees, undertaken assessments, conducted listening sessions, enhanced DEI departments, and published long-term plans. A lot has happened, and it’s natural to think that these organizations are jumping on the bandwagon.
And that’s the danger—that DEI initiatives will be treated as just another bandwagon that organizations will jump off of when the next hot topic comes along. But these issues are too important to let that happen.
Ultimately, how people behave every day is the essence of building lasting diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces. This means we must learn, act, and keep acting. Here are four must-haves if you are serious about making diversity, equity, and inclusion permanent goals for your organization.
1. Keep the focus on results
Unless DEI initiatives are viewed as “must-haves” for achieving the best results, they will always be seen as lesser priorities. The message from your leaders at all levels must be that achieving optimal results—no matter whether measured in dollars, safety, compliance, creativity, etc.—will come only when every employee is able to contribute to their fullest.
One benefit of this focus is that it emphasizes what employees have in common. No matter who someone is, where they are from, what they look like, or whatever other characteristics they have or do not have in common with other employees, everyone shares a common stake in your organization’s results. By emphasizing the link between DEI and results, everyone can see the benefit for themselves, not just for others.
2. Emphasize the connections between behavioral issues
Inclusive, equitable treatment is not something that happens in isolation from other organizational concerns linked to behaviors. You can’t be inclusive and diverse if you allow discrimination and harassment or if disrespect and incivility are allowed to flourish. Work on establishing a truly welcoming environment where respect and civility are the norms and leaders openly and quickly deal with issues that arise.
3. Uphold standards of inclusion, civility, and respect across the board
No one can be exempt from treating everyone else with respect. Examine your organization, determine which behaviors must change and which you can build on, and communicate standards. It’s how people treat each other every day in the hundreds of exchanges that occur that determines whether your workplace will be successful with DEI or not. You can’t just focus on behaviors that generate lawsuits or patently violate your policies. It’s important to also address other acts which conflict with your values and undermine the performance and inclusion of some employees.
4. Reinforce and Measure Change
Continuously reinforcing and measuring the effectiveness of new norms are the key to long-term progress. DEI should be treated as a continuous initiative that doesn’t stop — like safety, sales, and quality initiatives are.
For help converting these principles into action at your organization, ELI is launching a new course: Inclusion NOW for Leaders and Employees. It’s an interactive, action-based program anchored in an organization’s mission, vision, and values and the idea that diversity, inclusion, and equitable treatment foster the best elements of individual and team results where everyone benefits.
The course uses ELI’s behavioral, interactive learning method and can be delivered in one class or over intervals with a format specially designed to help participants introduce Inclusion NOW principles to their teams. The program utilizes ELI’s Learning Foundations and JustTalk® Model common to its Civil Treatment® curriculum which helps participants build consistent skills for preventing, addressing, and correcting issues on a range of related topics. And finally, this course can be taught by client or ELI instructors, live or in a virtual environment—read more about our training delivery options here. For more information, please reach out to your ELI Client Representative or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Civil Treatment® Workplace:
Inclusion NOW Preview Webcast
April 7, 2021 | 2:00 – 3:00 PM ET