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DEIB: Building An Inclusive Culture

May 2022
Alexandra Lekkou
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New mentalities and practices positively affect engagement and performance

This article originally appeared in the May 2022 issue of HR Professional Magazine.

There are two levers for organizational change: the policies and practices of an organization and the leadership style of its executives. Their alignment toward diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) through a measurable and practical approach can drive value-adding transformation.

Any value, for instance, diversity, comes to life when it is supported by our practices, the heroes we recognize, the behaviors we reward, and the norms we create.

Undoubtedly, significant events and crises in recent years have had a global impact on different levels (healthcare, societal, financial) and have accelerated developments related to our values, priorities, and expectations. At the same time, new mentalities and practices are emerging that positively affect engagement and performance levels of individuals and teams within organizations vis-à-vis DEIB. These changes are not only creating expectations that affect attraction and retention of employees but also contribute to increases in creativity, improved decision-making, and other favorable outcomes.

DEIB may be seen as the foundation of organizational culture. Organizational culture refers to the way employees relate to their job, their colleagues, and the external environment, which in turn, determines which behaviors are expected and are acceptable. In this way, the degree to which we create diverse teams, trust our colleagues, feel comfortable expressing ourselves, remain open to new ideas, and maintain transparency and proximity is very different between organizations.

It is crucial that policies and practices of the organization, as well as leadership’s management style, are aligned. How can we modify our culture effectively in the direction of DEIB?

Culture management can be demanding because culture might be perceived as an abstract and complex construct while its management is usually not conducted in the measurable, systematic way we manage other domains of the organization. However, such an approach can cultivate DEIB in the following five simple steps:

  1. Determine the ‘new reality’ we want to create. For example, what does inclusion mean for our organization? Why is it important?
  2. Capture the current culture in a measurable way. Are there different opinions? How do we respond to these? Today there are exceptional platforms that allow for a deep dive into DEIB constructs such as Qlearsite’s Employee Feedback Software, which Stanton Chase utilizes.
  3. Analyze the distance between the existing and desired mentality and practices.
  4. Locate the areas for development with the biggest expected impact and create plans of action – this may include new policies, procedures, systems to benefits, trainings, cultivation of new leadership styles, workspace design, renewal of company values, etc.
  5. Communicate with and involve everyone throughout the transformation.

Through our collaboration with organizations and through managing our own culture we have seen in practice how such a data-driven and insightful approach, oriented toward participation and action, can bring about progress and measurable results.

About the Author:

Alexandra Lekkou is a Director at Stanton Chase Athens with a focus on leadership and organizational culture.

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