Where is Your Organization in the DEI E-volution?
— June 2nd, 2023
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) continues to be in the top priorities for organizations, but are we seeing real progress on the change needed to drive the inclusive cultures and sense of belonging we all crave?
Last year, commissioned by business book publisher, Kogan Page, we embarked on a journey to discuss DEI and the role of effective internal communication.
You see, in the past year, organizations started reaching out to us for consulting support, feeling stuck in their DEI efforts and seeing employees ignoring and/or resisting organizational efforts. We wanted to share our learnings with our global communication community.
Getting DEI Right: Lessons from Microsoft, Gilead Sciences & Capital One
We spent the year researching history, listening to practitioners, paying attention to our experience with client challenges, and mapping and testing solutions. A few key findings struck us:
- DEI is professional and personal. Those delivering DEI efforts struggled with separating their own feelings and opinions from the programs being delivered.
- DEI is a transformational change process. That means that reactions to change—shock, denial, anger, resistance, acceptance, adoption, and commitment were human and expected and required support through proactive strategy and communication.
- DEI should be conversation instead of campaign-led. A series of campaigns that simply checked boxes versus changed attitudes and behaviors lost credibility and caused fatigue.
- DEI requires employee engagement. DEI does not become a reality without shared effort. If it was treated as the responsibility of a few versus embedded into strategies with measurable goals that everyone was accountable for, it struggled to move forward.
When consulting with clients on any change or engagement initiatives, we always start by asking about the present and end states: where is the starting point and where do we want to go?
It makes it easier for business leaders to map operational change initiatives and for communication leaders to provide the right messaging to create awareness, understanding, action, and belief.
It’s with this in mind, that we created our DEI E-volution.
EXIST: In this stage, organizations fight for the status quo and dig in their heels to keep them from becoming more diverse, equitable or inclusive.
ENTER: We describe this stage as black boxes and rainbows. Organizations feel they need to make a statement or performative gestures to show support.
How Others Are Promoting DEI in Their Workplace: Employee Storytelling
EDUCATE: In this stage, we introduce training and celebrations for cultural, religious, or commemorative dates or months to create awareness.
EMBRACE: In the past few years since the murder of George Floyd, we saw an increase in DEI budgets and the hiring of leaders accountable to the DEI efforts of their organizations. We also saw proactive plans starting to focus on business-related measures.
ENGAGE: Organizations in this stage had plans in place and moved their focus on engaging leaders and employees to translate plans into action.
EMBED: When organizations are in EMBED, they incorporate DEI initiatives, goals, and accountabilities into the employee and customer lifecycle.
We find that most organizations today fall between Educate and Engage and are struggling to move DEI efforts from performative to progressive performance.
The DEI E-volution has really resonated with so many that we have talked to. That’s why, in support of our book launch, we worked to create an assessment to help organizations identify where they fall on the continuum. After all, it is so important to truly understand where you are in order to move forward to the next step.
What can you do to make progress on DEI in your organization?
1. Take the assessment here https://5tk19jo8cpn.typeform.com/to/HH4nNewp and discover where your organization falls in the DEI E-volution.
2. You might find our new book helpful. Building a Culture of Inclusivity: Effective internal communication for diversity, equity, and inclusion is now available through Kogan Page (Use discount code: ALLME20), Amazon, and anywhere you purchase books online.
Our mantra is progress not perfect. We want to help support your organization to engage employees and leaders, build trust, and create a culture where everyone can belong and thrive.
The work in this space is both gaining momentum and driving resistance. Our goal is to get you unstuck and help you move to the next level in your own evolution.