We are now in a time where many companies are re-examining their diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies. Many companies have returned to merging their DEI with their existing HR departments and most DEI officers are leaving.
There is a growing sense of DEI fatigue and the subject has become politicized with the courts banning the subject and initiative in some states. As a result of budgets being reigned in and strategies being re-examined, organizations need to rethink their approach in this area.
What worked in 2020, after George Floyd’s death is no longer working today. In order to realize the benefits of DEI to the success of the organization, companies need to move from DE&I initiatives to DE&I integration. There is a gap between creating diversity in the company culture and creating an inclusive opportunity path within that culture.
It’s time for all of the well-intentioned declarations and efforts to be embedded into how the company instinctively functions; from how talent is acquired, to managing performance and making upward opportunity paths accessible to all. Instead of feeling like it’s the job of any one specific leader, team, or DE&I executive, it’s fluidly woven into the DNA of the company so that it’s everyone’s job.
Up until now, DEI has been approached as an end in itself. When you approach DEI as a means to an end, your businesses will thrive because the focus is on creating a climate for business success. When you shift to thinking about the customer and client benefits and value to those customers and clients, you appreciate the need for diverse viewpoints and skill sets. And, when your teams are united around the common goal of the company’s success, folks are more likely to behave inclusively.
Companies have spent much time and effort showing that they care. Now, the focus needs to be on making change happen. There needs to be a shift from the external statements to the internal culture. Shifting perspective to enabling diversity and inclusion to enhance solving business challenges, rather than just pursuing diversity and inclusion is what’s needed now. We are all responsible for building inclusion and belonging into the daily workflow.
Everyone deserves a workplace culture where we all feel valued and have a sense of belonging. One where psychological safety is felt and people with different backgrounds and skill sets feel welcomed and included. Only then, will you create an environment where creativity, collaboration, innovation, and communication across cultures thrive to help companies prepare and be ready for success in the future.
We must be careful not to let DE&I fatigue and politics cause us to step away from our efforts. Rather than giving up, we need to try a new approach. Like with any other aspect of learning and development, we don’t abandon the effort, we regroup and approach it from a new perspective.
Ditching all efforts to make organizations more inclusive is not the answer. There is a better, faster, and less polarizing way to achieve the business success that companies have been trying to achieve. That means integrating DEI with leadership development, coaching, and upward opportunity paths. Learning inclusive communication skills that create brave, safe, and collaborative environments will open the opportunity path for yourself and others.
To know more about how either you as a leader, your teams, or your company’s DE&I efforts are aligned with your initiates, take the DE&I Efforts Assessment HERE
All the best,