Any initiatives that aim to improve diversity and inclusion, should incorporate the core characteristics of involvement, participation, and a real commitment to engagement.
At the heart of these characteristics are the ideals of respect, openness, building trust, and a desire to know and understand what is important to individuals at a deeper level without judgement. Initiatives represented within any diversity & inclusion programme are not simply there to enhance connection and relating although this is a big part of learning, growing, and transforming together.
The underlying purchase is actually about a continuous cycle of improvement to create and sustain a better work and world environment that allows everyone to contribute optimally in terms of their unique talents and abilities and be recognised and valued accordingly.
Managing diversity in the workplace through a combination of diversity and inclusion initiatives involves the ability to be very selective about what is appropriate to institute given the current status of the organisation on these fronts. The aim will be to move at an achievable pace towards the realisation of a culture and climate that will underpin organisational performance and increase employee well-being.
No single simple answer
Top diversity and inclusion consulting firms will only recommend initiatives that are suitable and fit the specific situation organisations find themselves in after a thorough diversity and inclusion status analysis. Diversity and inclusion consulting cannot take place in a vacuum of the right information to inform decisions and choices. Key items to understand would be the nature and extent of diversity and inclusion training previously undertaken by the organisation as well as any prior initiatives and results.
Diversity and inclusion initiatives cover a broad spectrum from relatively simple to more complex, linked to the composition of the workforce and the extent of the challenges uncovered by diversity training companies.
At the one end of the spectrum of initiatives is the serious endeavour of putting in place the right values, principles, and purpose to guide organisational choices, actions, and behaviours. These must be represented clearly in revisions to relevant organisational mission statements, policies, procedures, and practice guidelines. Of course, representative individuals need to be involved in all processes to formulate these.
Supporting initiatives, to keep the focus on progress, involve making sure feedback and monitoring take place on milestones, goals, and targets regularly so that appropriate revisions can be made to initiatives. The absolute minimum about diversity & inclusion programmes should be inflexible. “Input, input, input” need to be the watchwords within programmes so that they become dynamic and relevant as the organisation unfolds to become increasingly significant to its people in the areas that count most.
The benefits of new experiences
At the more complex end of the spectrum of diversity & inclusion programmes beyond diversity and inclusion training is the emphasis on personal and relationship growth. Programmes that unleash awareness and create higher levels of own and interpersonal consciousness can be introduced. Individuals will need to be exposed to learning that gives them the ability to interpret their perceptions and respond to change.
Ultimately, individuals need to commit to self-adjustment within the change direction and have a true desire to be part of the desired organisational transformation. Diversity & inclusion programmes must, therefore, deal meaningfully with issues of fear, risk aversion, and balancing of interests. Top diversity and inclusion consulting firms will assist organisations to adopt initiatives that not only give organisations and their people greater accountability to improve their diversity and inclusion performance but also amplify their constructive emotional, cultural, and global intelligence.
The range of possible diversity and inclusion initiatives to be selected and instituted are innumerable, for the very reason that diversity in organisations themselves is extensive. However, whatever the choice made, it is essential that experiential learning is a big component of this to ensure the impact is deeply felt and people experience the genuine benefits of embracing difference.
In this regard, (Brown, 1991: unknown) made a salient statement to reflect upon as follows: “Rather, you have to get them to experience it in a way that evokes its power and possibility. Instead of pouring knowledge into people’s heads, you need to help them grind a new set of eyeglasses so they can see the world in a new way.”