Diversity and Inclusion most organizations realize is a business imperative. They spend significant resources every year to attain their diversity and inclusion agenda, yet many organizations experience that these programs fail.
Here are some key reasons for why diversity and inclusion programs fail.
Lack of C-Suite Commitment
- It is one thing to have a diversity and inclusion related vision to join the bandwagon and not be left behind; it is quite other to truly be committed to it. Many organizations create D&I programs in terms of policies, processes and training programs for the sake of it, but there is no buy-in of the C-suite leadership whose agenda is clearly only profits.
- While obviously organizations should not trade-in profits for diversity and inclusion, but what is needed is recognition of the economic benefits of D&I by the senior leadership. Only when the senior leadership gets the answer to “What’s In It For Me”, will they truly buy-in to promoting D&I. Without true support and commitment of the C-suite leadership, D&I initiatives are bound to fail.
Missing D&I Goals
- The second critical factor that contributes to why Diversity and Inclusion programs fail is that many organizations do not create goals. Without measurable goals D&I initiatives are just a tick in the box and PR activity. We know ‘what gets measured gets done’, this is true for diversity and inclusion programs and initiatives as well.
- Without well-defined goals, the programs lack a cohesive path and are random initiatives, however it is equally important to measure progress against D&I goals for true change.
- Another mistake many organizations make is conducting learning events. Learning events are one-time training programs. While these are quite engaging, they are unable to bring about long-term change.
- Building a diverse organization with an inclusive culture requires a change in mindset and overcoming biases, these are slow processes that need long-term learning engagements rather than learning events.
- No diversity and inclusion programs can succeed in a culture that in essence does not support it. Without a culture of trust and psychological safety diversity and inclusion programs are bound to fail.
- Inclusion is about a culture where everyone is valued, and they can be their true selves without worry or fear. Building an inclusive organization therefore requires a supportive culture.
Policies and Procedures
- Another important element of ensuring success of diversity and inclusion programs is supportive policies and procedures. Often, D&I initiatives are created in silos, while policies and procedures are designed to support business.
- Policies and procedures like leave policy, health insurance etc., should all promote and support diversity and inclusion. If they don’t then D&I initiatives cannot be sustained and be successful in the long run.
Diversity and Inclusion is becoming a competitive advantage for organizations that have been able to do it right – attracting and retaining top talent, greater innovation and a healthy workplace are some of the benefits that have finally resulted in economic gains. If others don’t want to miss out on this key competitive advantage, they must figure out soon how to ensure the success of D&I programs within the context of their organizations.