More and more companies are trying to promote Diversity & Inclusion globally because they have realized the business benefits of D&I and because it’s just the right thing to do!
However, the road to becoming a diverse and inclusive organization is not an easy one. Most of them find D&I an uphill task that loses steam after initial enthusiasm. Most problems in diversity and inclusion come from incorrect approach that organizations take towards it.
Here are some problems with the D&I initiatives that make them unsuccessful:
- Tick in the Box – Many organizations take up D&I initiatives with the right and actual intent of change. However, many them just want to join the bandwagon for publicity and good PR. This results in half-hearted interventions that provide the organizations a lot of visibility, but the organizational culture does not become inclusive. Joining pride marches or having Women’s Day program once a year are typical tick in the box activities that don’t really make an organization inclusive.
- Quick Fix Initiatives – Another problem with D&I initiatives in organizations is that most of them are looking for a quick fix. Boosting diversity numbers with mandated diverse hiring or setting up employee resource groups are some initiatives that organizations take but without a supportive culture and training people on D&I, these initiatives don’t yield any results.
- Lack of Leadership Buy-In – This is one of the most crucial factors in failure of D&I initiatives. D&I teams or in many cases the HR function promotes the D&I agenda in the organizations. A lot of times however, the initiatives focus on the junior employees of the organization, without the buy-in of the leadership. This means no leadership support for these initiatives which die down quickly. Also, since building a diverse and inclusive organization is about having the right culture, this needs to be initiated from the top, culture is promoted top-down, not bottom-up. D&I initiatives should be done at all levels with a clear leadership buy-in.
- Training Events not Learning Journeys – Becoming diverse and inclusive is not about having only policies and processes in place. These initiatives cannot succeed unless there is a change in the mindset of the employees, and inclusivity is not part of the DNA. This takes time and effort and focused learning. Conducting a 1-day training on D&I or biases is not enough. Mindset change and overcoming biases is a slow process and requires continuous learning that is available in various modes is what works.
- Not Measuring Outcomes – Experience tells us – what gets measures, gets done! Many organizations do not have a clear D&I mandate or commitment from leadership; therefore, they don’t measure specific outcomes of the D&I initiatives. Without measurement of effectiveness of these outcomes they cannot be accomplished. Organizations that do not measure D&I outcomes end up with tick in the box D&I initiatives.
All the above problems with D&I initiatives make them ineffective. If organizations are to overcome these problems, they need to start specific people in the organization who strategically work on the D&I agenda, these people are the D&I Champions. D&I Champions should be trained formally to work on the D&I charter and agenda. Organizations should have the right intent of wanting to build the right culture for becoming diverse and inclusive.