Part 1 of the Navigating DEI in the Workplace Series
It’s the middle of the night. You are home, sound asleep in your bed, and then it happens, the unthinkable. Someone jarringly and unapologetically breaks you out of your slumber. You are blindfolded, taken from your comfortable surroundings, and you are dropped off in woods without a map or a compass. You are a stranger in a strange land, and you wonder if you will ever make it home. How will you survive when everything you knew and understood seems to be thrown into chaos?
First, take a deep breath and center yourself. As our workplaces become increasingly diverse and employers recognize the need for strong diversity and inclusion processes, some might feel as though they are trapped in some midnight abduction scenario. Navigating the workplace and societal culture can be challenging. Times are changing, and many people in the workplace feel lost.
What can I say?
Will I get canceled?
What about #metoo and #blacklives matter?
Can I safely express my opinion or give compliments to my co-workers?
The Workplace Must Evolve with The Culture
Change is the only constant on which we can depend and the workplace has always evolved with society. Today we take all kinds of health and safety measures for granted. Yet, when Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle in 1906, he exposed working-class poverty, harsh and unpleasant living and working conditions, and hopelessness among many workers. It brought about many necessary changes to labor laws, probably to the dismay of corrupt people in power at the time. No worker in 2022 would tolerate the working conditions and exploitation of children illustrated in The Jungle. Sometimes, the workplace needs to evolve, which can be unsettling for many people.
First Steps for Maximizing Your DEI Efforts
If you are lost in the woods without a map or a compass, they suggest you do the following: Use the sun to find north. After finding north and with a little practice, it is pretty easy to know which direction you are heading. If you are in a changing work, dealing with new diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, and feeling lost, I want you to find the light. What is the light? As you think about the steps of building a more inclusive and culturally competent workplace, the “light” is your why or motivation for engaging in workplace diversity and inclusion. The motivation must be clear, compelling, warm, and bright-shining like the sun.
Here are a few questions that I hope you are asking your senior leaders, or here are some questions to think through if you are a senior leader who may be dealing with resistance in the workplace.
|The Employer Should Define||The Employee May Ask|
|Define the company values related to your DEI efforts.||Why is this important to the company?|
|The skills needed and the training available to staff.||How will this help me be a better team member?|
|Define the win or metrics that will be used to illustrate success.||What does success look like if we are effective with our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts?|
|A plan to report progress and have systematic methods of engaging staff to keep the efforts at the forefront.||Are we just checking the box? Will this even last?|
If you are hiking in nature, you know the sun always rises in the east and sets in the west. The earth spins towards the east, which means all planets, the sun, moon, and stars rise in the east and move westward across the sky. That truth does not change unless you are hiking on Mars. Finding the light to navigate your way through workplace diversity and inclusion is about ensuring that same predictability—outlining the big picture to help orient workers to changes in the workplace.
Warning for employers and HR professionals: Don’t take your employees to Mars. Keep them rooted and grounded in your core vision, mission, and values. While your DEI efforts may thrust them into a different environment, it shouldn’t rocket them to another planet. Help them see the light and the win, so your organization can reap the proven benefits of being a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
Need help getting your team to see the light? Reach out to Glen and his team, and let’s see if we can navigate this culture together.
In This Series
Part 1: Finding the Light
Part 2: Connect the Dots
Part 3: Learn to Read the Room
Part 4: Look at the Big Picture
Part 5: Pay Attention to Boundaries
Part 6: Practice Your Skills
Part 7: Pay Attention
Part 8: Celebrate the Small Things
Part 9: Take Risks and Up Your Game
Part 10: Get Lost in the Familiar
Part 11: Practice Emotional Control
Part 12: Learn How to Recover from Mistakes