Is Workplace DEIB dead?
I’m not your business coach, but imagine if I was. I have been an Executive Director of a national nonprofit, building and leading diverse teams. I have also been an Air Force officer leading a cadre of diverse people in that context. So, understand that as we enter our imaginary coaching session that and I’m here to provide you with the insights you need regarding Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) in today’s corporate environment.
DEIB is not dead. It creates a more capable and harmonious workforce if you do it right. Done wrong, just like any other poorly executed business strategy, it sucks the life out of your organization and drains resources.
Why is DEIB important?
- Strategic Business Advantage: DEIB isn’t merely about meeting a societal expectation or appearing “woke.” It’s about creating a competitive edge. DEIB is a strategy, a lens through which you evaluate your planning. DEIB is not the destination; DEIB is the game plan that gets you across the line. A strategically diverse workforce encourages creativity and innovation and can provide insights into various markets. An inclusive leadership strategy, in turn, can increase profits and overall business success.
You have to manage the differences in people and organizational culture (no matter what letters/words you want to use.)
- Talent Acquisition and Retention: Simply put, DEIB is about workplace culture. What is the best culture you can create to maximize the work done by your human resources? In a market where top talent is vital for success, a commitment to DEIB can make you more attractive to a broader talent pool. It promotes a culture where everyone feels valued and included, which helps in retaining top performers. Especially in the hybrid workforce, leaders must pay attention to culture. Don’t like the letters DEIB? Is the word “diversity” too loaded? You still have to manage the differences in people and organizational culture (no matter what letters/words you want to use.)
- Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Politicians might be able to monkey around with laws and regulations, but you can’t afford to. With the growing importance of DEIB, various governments are implementing regulations that require organizations to adhere to certain standards. Engaging in DEIB initiatives can help ensure compliance with these laws, minimizing the risk of legal issues. If you do DEIB right, which is intentionally inclusive of all and doesn’t depend on arbitrary quotas, you then can operate successfully even under “anti-woke” laws. Remember, workplace DEIB is a strategic lens used to create the desired workplace culture. Generally, no one wants a narrow-minded, inflexible workforce with limited skills. Great leaders want great teams with diverse skills that can improvise, adapt, and overcome daily challenges.
When people feel discriminated against, they rebel no matter what end of the political spectrum they are on.
- Reputation Management: While there may be some backlash, the overall trend favors organizations actively involved in DEIB initiatives. It is pretty safe to assume that almost everyone wants to belong, feel included, and feel valued in the workplace. When people feel discriminated against, they rebel no matter what end of the political spectrum they are on. Consumers are increasingly aligning their spending with businesses that reflect their values. Dismissing DEIB efforts can significantly impact your brand image and customer loyalty. Your challenge as an executive is articulating that DEIB is for everyone. Yes, inclusion means bringing everyone to the table and helping them understand both the value they bring to the workforce and the value they deliver to the end consumer. It is not about losers and winners. It is about balancing the scales and reimagining how to do business.
- Cultural Sensitivity and Global Reach: Understanding and respecting cultural differences is crucial in our globalized world. If we think of culture as “the way we do things around here,” we are obligated as leaders to clarify culture and integrate people into our organizational culture. If we want to reach new markets, we have to be culturally competent. If we want to learn new skills, we have to adapt. To innovate, we must be keenly aware of the pros and cons of the culture we are immersed in. DEIB initiatives foster cultural sensitivity, allowing your organization to adapt and succeed in various markets worldwide. As a leader seeking to gain the most out of diverse teams, this sentiment is aligned with my focus on cultural sensitivity and inclusivity, where celebrating diverse cultural nuances becomes a driving force for growth.
So, are DEIB programs no longer a priority?
Far from becoming less of a priority, DEIB initiatives are more vital than ever. The growing focus on corporate social responsibility, customer expectations, legal requirements, and the clear business benefits of a diverse and inclusive workplace makes DEIB not just an ethical choice but a strategic business necessity.
I understand that backlash and public opinion can be concerning, but these trends should be examined within a broader context and by understanding established historical trends. The true value of DEIB extends beyond current social debates and influences core aspects of modern business success.
In my experience working with diverse teams and focusing on genuine connections, I can say that investing in DEIB is not just a passing trend; it’s an enduring aspect of successful business practice. It transcends temporary public opinion and connects with a thriving organization’s long-term vision and mission.
If you have any more specific concerns, I’m here to address them and offer actionable solutions that resonate with your organization’s unique needs and objectives. Don’t hesitate to reach out. Contact Glen
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