You’ve often heard me say that when it comes to diversity, equity & inclusion, I’m in it for the long haul.
It’s so true a statement that I wrote a book with that very same title.
Because it’s a goal that cannot be accomplished during one employee training session.
Diversity, equity & inclusion training can be tough work. But it’s urgently needed – now more than ever before, as our world faces unprecedented times. It’s vital for organizational success and for future generations.
We need to press on with our efforts – and be aware of (and avoid) the potholes and roadblocks along our way.
“We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.”
—Max de Pree
Let’s All Just Get Along. Remember That?
I was honored by the appearance of the Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington – one of the top 10 diversity consultants – during one of my recent radio broadcasts.
Rev. Dr. Washington noted that organizational change towards diversity and equity is a long-term process, but one that we’re trying to accomplish with 1980’s technology.
“Back then, it was trying to get people to be nicer to people, to understand interpersonal engagement. The problem? That technology is no longer useful,” he stated.
Rev. Dr. Washington explained that the 1980s technology was color blind, not noticing differences – and it didn’t get to where people got uncomfortable:
“It was ‘let’s all just get along,’” Washington noted. “Remember when you got told that? That was the narrative. That by itself is one of the major potholes.”
Many organizations are still trying to do change work…without updating their “technologies.” Developing the culture change necessary to establish more equitable, inclusive environments requires more than just valuing differences and the “Everyone just get along” mantra.
One of the major pitfalls is that some organizations look only at increasing numbers, putting money into a programmatic effort here or there – but they’re not tied to bigger, strategic, organized efforts to infuse DEI into every level of the organization.
Diversity Fatigue & Moving Too Quickly Create Roadblocks
I noted that 30 years ago, people may have been doing more lectures about diversity and what racism is and why it’s important to address.
Today, there are so many more workshops and activities and courses that people have been in, and many often feel diversity fatigue. We keep training people over and over to increase their awareness of the problems.
But without meaningful, sustainable organizational efforts, nothing else changes – including that we lose significant numbers of talented employees and leaders through a revolving door, particularly people of color.
Another pothole? We move too quickly. We see an urgent need for change and jump right in to take action – but in many cases, leader commitment may be lacking and the effort fizzles as the resistance grows. Deep commitment on every level of the organization is essential to ensure success.
Rev. Dr. Washington also noted that we get stuck in educational awareness. “There’s much more to be done that just that. There needs to be a strategy – get leaders to understand the context of the work we’re doing – and the need to deepen their capacity.”
He also explained that training must not be done solely to comply with laws. “This is not an add on, not image management, not to stay out of the newspaper. Leaders need to have an awareness and recognize that if they don’t have the expertise, they need to build their capacity.”
“Diversity and inclusion training is an investment of resources and time, not just window dressing and skimming. As leaders deepen their capacity, they start doing more effective leadership.”
-Rev. Dr. Washington
Going Beyond Individual Awareness to Create Greater Change
Rev. Dr. Washington noted that we have to build skills to be able to navigate a culture-change process and to increase awareness beyond the individual level. Cultural audits and assessments need to be done to develop metrics and benchmarks.
Training needs to continue throughout the hierarchy to focus specifically on managers and supervisors. “It’s one thing to gather data and have a survey. We need to share data and discover how to use that data for evidence-based decisions. Policies need to be continually revised.”
Inclusion change teams need to be analyzing all HR policies and inclusion policies with an Inclusion Lens, including middle management, and working towards action-oriented work groups.
“We assume people on teams have skills to do the work…but the development of the team is often not done. You’ll begin to see fizzling off and dropping off because they haven’t done any of their own development work. The team has not been developed, they’re not clear what expectations are and the team is rendered impotent and not able to really do work. Often really great people find themselves spinning, not knowing what to do.”
-Rev. Dr. Washington
If you’ve been in this field for any length of time, I’m willing to bet you can relate to that.
Do you want to up your game & be more prepared to design and facilitate powerful EDI workshops? Consider joining me for a comprehensive, engaging virtual course to learn and practice proven approaches and techniques to move people from denial and complacency to inspired action and culture change.
Learn more & register for: Design & Facilitate Powerful Workshops on Equity, Inclusion & Social Justice: Tools and Strategies to Accelerate Organizational Change by Learning to Develop and Lead Transformational Workshops.
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