Tackling The Pain of the Diversity & Inclusion Journey

Embarking on the journey towards greater diversity and inclusion can be a stressful experience.  To make this a more pleasant experience, let’s examine 3 potentially-painful trials on the D&I journey:

  1. Opening Pandora’s Box

One of the first things we often do with organisations is conduct our Inclusion Diagnostic – and audit of how inclusive the work culture of the organisation is.

In addition to providing a thorough understanding of people’s perception of inclusion, this exercise also uncovers sentiments that may not have readily shared before.  Colleagues tend to be forthcoming with scenarios and examples that, once voiced, cannot be ignored.

In this way, the exercise of listening is akin to opening Pandora’s Box:  once you’ve provided people the space to open up and agreed to listen, it is not possible to backtrack, even if what comes out is uncomfortable or even painful.

To prepare for the unexpected information and thereby minimise its potential shock, we explain in advance that the aim of the exercise is to find out what portion of the organisation doesn’t feel included and that is often a less pleasant reality to hear.    We also emphasize that this information is not designed to lay blame or judge – it is intended to help identify the type of action that will address the uncovered challenges and lead to greater Inclusion.

In the end, while the findings can make for uncomfortable reading, they allow an organisation to take specific action to address them and, in this way, attract respect and praise from those who shared.

  1. Unpredictable Impact

Many leaders worry that introducing D&I initiatives means promoting less capable individuals.  Although data shows that there is no reason to worry about this, it remains a pain point of the D&I journey for many leaders.  It is the dealing with something new and – in their view – untested in their organisations.

One way to minimise this worry is to do more research to find information that is persuasive and disarming.  That said, in my experience, unless it is data from peers, it is difficult to assure leadership that a similar result will apply to their organisation.

Another way to tackle this point is to consider ‘the lesser evil’.  I often ask the question: what will be the consequence of inaction?  This usually draws out scenarios that no leadership likes to contemplate.  Once the picture of inaction is thoroughly painted, the pain of not knowing whether D&I initiatives will in fact work – against evidence that they do – becomes less prominent.  A bit like those who are afraid to fly still do, knowing that the odds are indeed in their favour.

  1. No Boundaries

When talking about Inclusion, we advocate allowing people to bring their whole selves to work, allowing them to be who they are so they can feel that they belong.

When we talk about this, we often hear the concern that this kind of open-ended permission might invite unwelcomed views from those opposed to liberating voices.  This brings its own challenges for organisations.

One way to address this is the ‘Live and Let Live’ rule.  This rule is an agreement with colleagues that, while encouraged to be themselves, this liberty must not impose on another’s to do the same.  The point at which one’s freedom becomes another’s confinement is when the line is crossed.

Embarking on the Diversity journey can be challenging.  But there are ways to ease that pain – and working with a specialist consultant is one of them. Voice At The Table has expert consultants on hand to help and advise company leaders, with evidence-based case studies to draw upon and proven tools to ease the pain of the journey.

We will be talking about some of those tools and how they can help later in the month. In the meantime, let us know if we can help ease the pain of your D&I journey.

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