Effective Change Management When Facing PushBack

It’s no secret that organizations across industries are facing increased pressure to foster more diverse and inclusive workplaces. But what many leaders don’t realize is that DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) must be more than just a set of policies or buzzwords.

So why does it take longer to adopt DEI practices in companies that established their hiring methods, policies, and procedures many years ago? Because DEI changes require a different way of thinking and operating. DEI isn’t just another compliance effort—it requires a total organizational shift, especially for companies who have done “business as usual” for the past 3+ years. DEI should be approached with the same level of rigor, discipline, and accountability as any other strategic priority, and so: this requires something called Change Management.

Change Management is the process of planning, implementing, and monitoring changes in an organization. It helps leaders navigate the people side of change, ensuring that employees are prepared, engaged, and supported.

As much as companies would like DEI to be as simple as creating a few new policies, the reality is that true DEI involves significant changes to an organization’s culture, systems, and processes. And because these changes can be challenging to implement, many organizations turn to change management methodologies to help ensure that the entire leadership team has total buy-in.

Here are six key change management strategies DEI leaders can use to create lasting inclusive excellence within their organizations:

  1. Recognize that DEI is a strategic priority.
    To make DEI part of your company’s core values, you need to start first by recognizing that DEI is a business initiative that should be approached with the same level of rigor, discipline, and accountability as any other strategic priority
  2. Define what DEI means for your organization and where you have gaps.
    Organizations must start by taking inventory of their DEI programs and assets, understanding where they currently stand on their DEI goals, and mapping out a plan for how to close any gaps.
  3. Obtain stakeholder buy-in
    One of the most important aspects of successful DEI initiatives is buy-in from senior leadership. Without this support, it can be difficult to secure the budget, resources, and commitment needed to make DEI a priority throughout the organization. DEI is a journey and one that requires continuous effort, top-down commitment, and buy-in from every level of the organization.
  4. Establish DEI as a long-term commitment
    DEI initiatives can be complex and challenging, but they are also essential for ensuring that all employees feel valued and included. To be successful, organizations must commit to DEI for the long haul and make it a priority at every level of a hierarchy (if one exists)
  5. DEI training should be tailored to your organization
    Not all DEI training is created equal. To be effective, DEI training must be tailored to the specific needs of your organization. One size does not fit all when it comes to DEI, so it’s important to work with a DEI consultant or provider who can customize a solution that meets your unique needs.
  6. DEI initiatives must be ongoing
    DEI is not a one-time initiative that you can check off your to-do list. Rather, it’s an ongoing process that requires continuous effort and commitment from everyone in the organization. To ensure that your DEI efforts are sustainable, make sure to build DEI into your organization’s strategy and operations.

DEI is not just a social responsibility–it’s good for business. Studies have shown that DEI can lead to increased innovation, creativity, and productivity, as well as improved retention and recruitment. In other words, DEI is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense.

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