How do you move your organization from conversation to action? It might look different than you think.
As the national conversation surrounding diversity and inclusion continues to gain momentum, a simple yet powerful truth resonates: depending on their identity, employees experience the workplace in vastly different ways.
With an energized workforce and an intensified spotlight on leadership, the time is ripe for action. But how? How do you move your organization from conversation to action?
For starters, look beyond the happy.
Workplace culture is often misconstrued for happiness—“are my employees happy?” But “happy” is just a bi-product of culture, not the definition of it.
If you’re serious about promoting a culture that values diversity, equity, and belonging, here are some questions to ask beyond “are my employees happy?”
- Do all employees feel heard and feel comfortable being themselves?
- Do women, BIPOC, LGBTQ, etc, have higher turnover rates?
- Are employees in the same position being paid equally?
- Is there true representation at senior levels?
- What corporate goals, metrics, and incentive programs align with desired behaviors?
Next, take a look in the mirror.
Ultimately, workplace culture starts with its leadership. A leader’s decisions, what and how they communicate with others, the policies they create—all of this and more—set the foundation for culture. Leaders are the first stewards of an organization’s values and they must lead by example, personally practicing and reinforcing the behaviors and beliefs that they want to define their organizational culture.
Every member of a team has the potential to contribute to the culture of an organization as well. Each brings their own personality, perspectives, and realities to the table. But, it’s up to leaders to create an environment that enables them to do so (both a physical and psychological environment).
Finally, shift intentionally.
Cultures that are left on “autopilot” are likely to stray from an organization’s core values, and worse, allow unacceptable or toxic behaviors to become the norm. This can ripple outward, endangering everything from morale to the bottom line.
An ideal culture is formed with intention and informed by clearly defined values. Start the shift by:
- Talking one-on-one with employees. Remember that as a leader, you do not have a monopoly on “the right way” of doing things. It is important to listen to employees’ ideas and concerns.
- Re-evaluating your organizational value statement. Does it incorporate DEI values?
- Infusing your values into process, evaluations, and promotions.
- Establishing D&I working groups and giving them a seat at all key leadership discussions.
Always remember that integrating diversity and inclusion values into your culture is not a linear process with a stationary endpoint. It involves ongoing evaluation, iteration, communication, and growth. Just as the conversation in our nation continues to evolve, so will your organization. It’s important to check in often, and push the cultural narrative forward with humility and intention.
Conscient Strategies was founded with the idea that every organization is capable of thriving through change. With a focus on strategy development, program implementation, workplace dynamics, and leadership development, Conscient Strategies equips leaders with the tools necessary to continuously navigate the constancy of change in ways that not only benefit their team, but, equally as important, their business outcomes as well. From mergers to c-suite changes to sudden or explosive growth, organizations turn to Conscient Strategies when change is threatening their financial health and cultural wellbeing.
Based in Washington, D.C., Conscient Strategies is comprised of a talented group of consultants, executive coaches, strategists, and account executives. The team has worked with organizations of all sizes in the private, federal, and non-profit sectors across the United States and Internationally.
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It is undeniable that we are all in a shared space that none of us have ever visited before. As we all live in this new world of the prolonged liminal space between isolation and the hope of a vaccine, we leaders can make the difference between light and darkness.
In our latest “Conscient Leaders” interview, we talk with Dana Pauley, Interim Executive Director of Leadership Montgomery, about how she’s leading her organization through change—and making time for her family and herself.
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