A Roadmap to Diversity Initiatives at Work
How to maximize your professional position and use it as an asset to spark diversity initiatives.
The social & political movement against racial inequality is shaking up organizations, brands and institutions, and it shows.
Companies are scrambling to make statements about the Black Lives Matter movement and it seems like most are just doing it to save face, avoid getting called out, or boycotted against.
As diverse individuals that make up our professional workforce, it’s up to us to lead the way to transformational justice in our places of work. We have the ability to leverage our diversity as an asset to help our corporate colleagues understand the context and perspective happening externally and how we can bring that change internally.
Change comes from within.
Here are a few ways to spark a diversity initiative at work:
– Share resources, links, videos with your colleagues & bosses
– Form a team within your organization
– Volunteer to share your story, time or connections
– Ignite a virtual company-wide discussion or panel
– Spark conversations and hold space for vulnerability. Don’t let racism be the elephant in the room.
– Formulate a plan or a solution – just like you would a new campaign, offering or product
When solving a problem, it helps to zoom out and see what’s worked or hasn’t worked in the past. Drawing inspiration from HBR’s LinkedIn Live with Porter Braswell and incorporating the Culture Climax PAACT framework we’ve outlined 3 buckets of achieving transformational justice within the workplace.
Addressing these 3 topics will help you execute a successful diversity initiative in an organization:
1 – Leadership Buy-in
Why they fail: Lack of leadership
The CEO needs to develop the understanding and confidence on why these initiatives matter. Leadership lacks the confidence and transparency to show how much traction is being made with initiatives.
How to succeed: Listening
Leadership needs to go head first and have willingness to listen, learn and create empathy. Aim to listen to the experiences in the context of their organization, so that an understanding of employees perspectives can occur. Start by speaking to your colleagues, break down the walls around these conversations/topics and accepting that it’s ok to be vulnerable.
Tip: Host a 1 hour weekly call.
Create an open, safe space for hearts and minds to share their stories, feedback, potential solutions that spark vulnerability and understanding. You can either keep time or create an open format.
2 – Clarity and Transparency
Why they fail: Lack of clarity & transparency
The organization can’t define what diversity means. – is it ethnicity, sexual orientation, educational attainment? Organizations fail because they don’t set clear goals or apply the same roadmap to internal initiatives as they would when launching a campaign or product.
How to succeed: Define & measure
Just as you would when solving a product challenge or defining a product roadmap be clear and serious about problems of diversity in your organization. Explain why you defined it in that capacity. Make a top-down long term, holistic commitment that’s success can be quantified such as hiring, events, retention, promotions etc. Then show traction & milestones are being reached along the way.
Tip: Implement OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)
An example OKR can be – Launch an ethnically diverse hiring initiative (Objective). By September 1 the company will hire or promote 5 employees of color and transexual orientation (Key Result). Then appoint 1 person to share bi-weekly updates on the status of these benchmarks.
3 – Authenticity
Why they fail: Poor company culture
Employees aren’t given autonomy or their voices are often left unheard.
How to succeed? Autonomy
Build a company culture that allows employees to bring their authentic self to work. This opens up the ability for people to bring their best ideas forward… which is when creativity and innovation happen!
Tip: Give employees a chance to shine
Initiatives that foster autonomy like Amazon’s Institutional Yes shift company culture and empower the ingenuity of the people within. Essentially, if an employee pitches an idea, their higher up has to write a 2 page public explanation via their company Intranet if they say no to the idea. This encourages risk-taking and innovation. Check out the ExO Community’s GitHub on Autonomy for more examples.
Tip #2: When crafting a project, post or statement use this guide below from the Culture Climax PAACT Framework – created to help people level up in the digital era.
Another nod to Porter Braswell’s work at Jopwell for this inspiration and guidance. Sign up for their partner program and watch the LinkedIn Live interview shared above to fully absorb the message and paths to help steer the ship in the right direction.