Everyone is interested in working on a diversity and inclusion program right? Or are they? When people are busy doing their work, unless the subject directly affects them, people often see it as yet another thing to do and don’t understand why they should spend time on it. And these programs fail unless you get buy-in from everyone to want to be involved and learn. Here’s 5 ways to engage your employees in a diversity and inclusion program.
1. It starts at the top
If you are the senior person in the company driving this program, then you will need to make sure you get all of your leadership team engaged in this program as well. If you are not the leader, then you need to get buy-in right from the top to drive the changes. CEOs, Managing Directors, Business Owners…these are the people who need to be talking about why you are doing this. This needs to be a high-profile program about why things need to change, what the changes are about, and the vision of the future.
2. Communicate the why
Right from the start, think about how you are going to communicate about this program to people. You need to reach people at all levels of the company. Sell people the vision about why this is important and why things will be better with the changes. And bring it to life with stories, reflections and ideas that they can see and aspire to. And you need to keep communicating. Like any change program, communication is what will drive this. Tell people about quick wins as well as long-term changes. Show them that this is all possible. That change can happen.
3. Be honest, and listen
And when you are communicating, make sure this also involves being honest, and listening to people. If there is a lot to do, then tell people that. Don’t hide and pretend that everything is OK. And when people have feedback or thing to tell you about, listen to them. And all leaders need to make sure they do the same. For many, this will be the first time they have felt the organisation is addressing concerns they have. They might have been wanting these changes for a long time, and have a lot to tell you about. And if there is feedback about behaviours, give people space to tell you about it, and listen to what they are saying.
4. Measure, measure, measure
To know what you need to change, you need to understand where you are. Start by reviewing the current situation. Gather data, stories and feedback. And then set goals which you measure. Break them up into things you can deliver on quickly, things which will take longer, and transformational changes. And for this program to work, you need to engage people, give people responsibilities and targets themselves. And hold them to delivering on them.
5. Keep focused
It’s easy to start a program like this, and then lose track as other priorities come your way. If you see this happening in your workload and anyone in your team’s, then revisit why you are doing this. Communicate to everyone. Keep communicating, and keep focused on the things you need to deliver on.
Driving change in your organisation takes time, effort and commitment. You need to have a clear plan of what you are going to do. Here’s an example of how we audit organisations to help them understand what they need to work on. And how we keep them focused with a plan and actions.
If you want to talk to us about how we can help you to start your diversity and inclusion change program email firstname.lastname@example.org