Consulting to Help You Achieve the ROI of DEI
Featured in Forbes
Read our article to learn about our data-driven DEI consulting and training approach.
We help HR teams pioneer DEI
We help HR executives get funding and design and launch a tailored DEI strategy across the entire employee experience.
We ensure you’re optimizing the right metrics.
We help you understand and quantify the business impact of culture, diversity, and inclusion to your specific organization.
We excel at change management and building DEI governance.
With 16+ years of experience, we know what it takes to build a successful DEI program and we help you build the right teams to move it forward.
We combine numbers with emotional intelligence.
Our approach addresses everything from people operations to soft skills building to boost DEI from multiple angles.
We are a Women-Owned and Minority Business
CultureStrategy is itself a highly diverse organization so we know first-hand how to optimize diversity and inclusion for our clients!
As a result of this year’s racially fueled events, diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace has come into centerfield, with how-to articles abounding on this complex issue.
With voluntary employee turnover costing U.S. companies $1 trillion per year — and turnover especially high among diversity and inclusion leaders — it’s obvious that DEI is an area that businesses can’t afford to overlook. Studies have shown that a lack of a diverse and inclusive culture leads to high turnover and less innovation.
While they are quite different, diversity, equity and inclusion are often treated as one topic. Diversity deals with numbers and ensures that organizations and teams are designed to be versatile, balanced and fair in representation. Equity ensures the right policies and processes are in place. Inclusion is the final step, as it ensures a sense of employee engagement and belonging, resulting in improved organizational effectiveness.
1. Coach leaders and managers to improve emotional intelligence and storytelling skills.
Active leadership involvement in diversity training might be the single most important determinant of the success of a program. But that means much more than sending out executive communications about the company’s “commitment to DEI.”
Encourage leaders and managers to be active evangelists of the effort by first becoming aware of their own biases and preferences toward their team members and reports. For DEI efforts to be successful, leaders, and especially middle managers, need to engage in coaching and training, both in unconscious bias and in skills like emotional intelligence, communication and storytelling.
2. Optimize the right metrics.
What metrics are you using to measure the success of DEI coaching and efforts? Are you sure they are the best metrics for determining business impact? Invest in analytics to understand which metrics actually lead to improved performance.
For example, if a goal is to increase engagement and participation in workshops, simply optimizing attendance would not be the best metric. What if there are more attendees, but they are all tuned out? Don’t make the all-too-common DEI mistake of focusing only on numbers and headcount. Measure behaviors as well through observation, surveys or even more advanced analytics techniques like network analysis. Ensure the metrics you track are appropriate indicators tied directly to business objectives.
3. Gather continuous feedback, and adapt.
Don’t be too rigid on your DEI “plan,” resulting in a one-way process of imposing training, policies and major organizational changes on employees. Rather, gather continuous feedback and adapt your program to create an agile DEI training and engagement strategy that ensures you’re providing the most value and relevance to employees. Develop two-way feedback systems, and mobilize employee resource groups through which employees can share ideas and suggestions for the program and confidentially share issues of concern with the committee.
4. Don’t take sides. Listen.
The ironic truth about diversity and unconscious bias training is that the trainer’s own biases can sometimes get in the way. DEI is often treated as if there is a “right” way and a “wrong” way. While a certain viewpoint might seem obvious to a diversity trainer, there could be various perspectives on an issue within an organization.
I can think of a personal example in which a manager at one of my client’s companies told me he wanted to stop immigration because he felt there were “too few jobs for Americans.” Although my parents and many of my friends were immigrants, I listened and asked for more detail on how this affected him. Through understanding his story of seeing many of his own friends and family losing jobs and struggling, I aimed to understand his resentment, without argument. Listening to him and showing empathy seemed to change something in him, as from then on, he was more receptive to the training.
Learn to treat others’ perspectives as valid, as long as they don’t espouse hate or violence.
5. Encourage discernment.
As mentioned, true harassment and hateful speech and action certainly need to be punished and uprooted from the organization. However, policies and processes, in general, should be designed to be empathetic and tolerant, rather than punitive and fear-inducing. This means fostering, rather than inhibiting communication.
Remember that DEI involves a mindset change for each individual and for the workplace, and no one will get it 100% right all the time. Bias is an ingrained aspect of the human mind and existence, and overcoming bias is a process that takes time and active practice. Thus, ensure your policies create enough space to be able to discern well-intentioned mistakes from ill-intentioned ones.
Diversity training is a journey.
Inclusion and diversity training is a collective and individual journey of culture and mindset change. Along the way, there will likely be missteps; sometimes these can even feel like you’re moving backward. There might be unintentional microaggressions and biases, conflicts, awkwardness and even confrontations. Having a skilled diversity and inclusion leader and committee that demonstrates empathy and inclusiveness will be essential for facilitating through these times.
DEI is a complex equation to solve, but by keeping these diversity best practices in mind, you can begin working toward developing a program that has a tangible impact on your return on investment.
This article was originally published on Forbes.com.
Our DEI Consultant
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