This year has been full of deep change, some necessary others out of our control, but when we look back at this year I don’t want to say this was a lost opportunity. That we learned to survive yes, but that’s it. We didn’t learn to have hard conversations about what kind of culture we want to create within our corporate walls.
Instead, let’s take this opportunity to do just that! Learn to use this moment, full of change, uncertainty and potential to create and strategize what we want the future to look like.
So here are 5 conversations you should be having with your staff- right now! Don’t wait until 2021 to figure out how to move forward. By then it may already be too late!
1. What are our Problems?
This is an open call question that requires input either as a town hall, if people are feeling brave or as an anonymous survey. Please, please don’t single your employees of color to answer questions about race, identity, etc. The intention may be good, but the optics isn’t. While this may be an opportunity for open discussion and dialogue, you want to make sure you have the resources and the guidance you need for this happen, without the learning happening in one direction.
2. Who’s Leading the Charge?
Do not assume because someone is of a marginalized group that they want to be a part of the conversation. For some, the heightened scrutiny and attention may seem more like tokenism and will in the end be unproductive rather than the well-intentioned level playing field it needs to be.
3. Who’s at the table?
If you don’t have a Diversity and Inclusion position and you’re not sure where to start- find a resource. Whether it’s a consultant, a webinar, or even a book club, or fill the position with someone that knows what they are doing. Someone who has an interest is a great start, but if you’re promoting from within make sure that they have the resources in order to make their position impactful.
4. Do we need a full-time position?
I know it may seem a big undertaking for many companies in transition but the hard truth is that most companies need the position and if you’re not ready yet, to find a consultant they can work with that will guide you in the direction you should be going. Diversity and Inclusion is not new as a position but as we know most positions don’t have the full authority to exact change throughout an organization, or their positions are relegated to HR-centered positions (I have my own theories as to why this is wrong) but the brief is that in order to create in Inclusive environment, there needs to be a re-thinking of what the company’s strategies, processes, and operations need to do in order to change company culture. That may require more than just a department-specific function.
5. Are We Ready to get in the Trenches to Make Inclusion a Priority?
Like all departments of a company, I believe inclusion is just as important. If things go badly, you don’t cut operations or strategy, you learn to pivot. When 2020 changed how most traditional firms work, we didn’t just shutter our doors and give in. We paused, created a plan of action and dealt with the changes we could control. The same goes for Inclusion. It’s not a band-aid fix to a moment, it’s a long process that creates impactful change throughout an organization for years to come. It can lead us forward as a leader in our respective industries or like many that will not survive 2020, it can be the resistance to change that will ruin us. We cannot pretend we can go back to business pre-Covid, that past no longer exists. What we can do is understand this moment and create the innovation and strategy that will propel us forward through 2020 and beyond! This is not short-term work, it’s life’s work.
We have a lot of work to do, and it’s going to take a lot of un-learning, learning and uncomfortable conversations but if we’re willing to put in the work, creating a more inclusive and innovative corporate culture is within our reach!
Yours in kind,