Join Catherine Mattice Zundel for an in-depth discussion in this video Overcoming Challenges, part of Managing Diversity.
- Leadership guru, John C. Maxwell, once said, "Change is inevitable. Growth is optional." As you implement a diversity and inclusion, or D&I program, you will find some resistance from your employees, managers, and even leaders. People like the status quo, and while they know change is always inevitable, many times you have to encourage them to grow into the new way of doing things. There are many reasons people don't like change. First, people fear losing something of value, such as power, social opportunities, comfortableness, sense of direction, or relationships.
For example, some of your managers may believe their power over subordinates derives from their ability to create work schedules. If you allow telecommuting, these managers will fear that their power as managers will be degraded. They start to wonder how else will they earn respect and keep people in line, if they can't reward them by offering the prime work shift? Second, some may lack trust in leadership or misunderstand their motives. In the case of D&I, this could translate into people believing your D&I program is a form of affirmative action, designed to hire in a certain group, or to make life easier for some people.
A D&I program could be seen as unfair in their eyes. Third, some might disagree that a D&I program is necessary. You, the initiator of change, and those affected by the change may be operating with different information or ideas about reasons for change, or about what D&I is really about. You might be thinking a goal to increase the number of women in management is a great idea, because it will help you increase sales to female customers by 20%. But some men in your organization might be thinking the process should be the same for everyone, and perceive your goal as special treatment.
Fourth, many people simply have a low tolerance for change, and no matter what change you implement, D&I or otherwise, they will resist. So how do you address all of these issues? Well, here's another quote. "Communicate, communicate, communicate." I'm not sure who said that one, but it's definitely right on. Before you even begin to introduce change, or advertise that a D&I initiative is on the horizon, you must communicate that there is a problem. In other words, sell the issue. Create a need that people can feel at their core.
Use your D&I survey data to show employees and managers that there is a real problem that must be solved. Next, communicate the solution, or D&I plan. Share how this solution solves the problem, but also be open to listen, listen, and listen to reactions. Your workforce has something to say about your plan, and it can only be successful if they felt heard. Let people share their descent for the plan. They may have reasons you hadn't thought of before, and ask people to offset their perceived losses with some ideas on solutions.
And, as the change unfolds, keep your door wide open for information. Make room for others' ideas. Talk with them about what's working and what's not. Encourage collaboration, and set and meet short-term goals. Keep talking with people at all levels, and encourage managers to talk about successes and failures with their staff, and relay that information to you. The more you can ensure people that they are gaining rather than losing something of value, that leadership has everyone's best interests at heart, and that D&I was necessary for success, the more likely people will be to grow with the organization through this inevitable change.
She outlines a process for creating a strategic plan and benchmarks for success. To bring your plan to life, she provides tips for implementing a diversity policy, recruiting and hiring, and asking diversity-related questions during interviews. (Compliance issues are also discussed along the way.) Catherine also explains how to integrate diversity within the performance management processes, including measuring employees on their ability to work well with others and measuring managers on their ability to drive and implement diversity initiatives.
Last, she covers "people practices," such as improving communication through open-door policies and ensuring work-life balance accommodates employees' lives and family responsibilities. When you're faced with organizational challenges, such as resistance to change, prejudice, or fear, Catherine provides tools to address them head-on.
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