Basic premises underlying my organization change consultation
- All organizations are diverse because of individuals’ intersecting identities
- As social beings, people want to feel they can connect to others and be included and respected
- As cultural beings, people bring their unique experiences, competencies, social skills, and values to the workplace; these are reflections of diversity
- Collective thought leadership advances DEIB efforts, not “training”
- All organizations have cultures (i.e., values, mission, norms and identities) and units within the organization have their own culture
- A DEIB strategy can catalyze organizational change that benefits all people
- Every person fits into the diversity definition
Demonizing DEIB Efforts in the Workplace and Education
Of late, I have read varying critical opinions about organizations’ DEIB efforts. A common theme in these critical pieces is that DEIB is about training, and of course, it is not meaningful training according to optionators. Diversity training has been perceived negatively for a long time but the resurgence of the topic in 2023 is curious. However, when I read these opinions, several themes emerge:
1) Individuals do not believe they are part of the diversity definition, usually because they are White men;
2) The critical voices say diversity is all about ethnicity and race, not recognizing that they too have an ethnic and racial heritage;
3) There is an unwillingness to learn; and
4) The critics do not want to change because how things are in their professional life is just fine.
Speaking from Experience
I have consulted in the organizational change/DEIB space since the early 1990’s. In this period of collaborations with committed leaders, I have witnessed multiple changes principally because people from across the organization have been included. Leaders are essential because they are the principal change agents. They require a mindset for inclusive leadership on behalf of DEIB as a catalyst for change and betterment.
In our consultation with universities, student voices are heard by being actively involved in planning. In the manufacturing space, we held listening sessions with factory workers who spoke English as a second language. For leaders, we are even more thorough, engaging in thoughtful conversations about their inclusive leadership practices and identification of systems that need to be adapted for inclusion through improved hiring, promotion, and compensation practices, and so forth.
To all engaged in workplace efforts to advance DEIB, be thoughtful, thorough, and goal oriented. Change is a process, not an event. My viewpoint is that DEIB efforts can catalyze needed improvements for organizational success. If led well, they will include all stakeholders and improve the workplace climate.