5 Myths that Undermine Diversity and Inclusion Effectiveness

January 17, 2013 | Diversity & Inclusion, Employee Engagement, Organizational Culture, Stakeholder Engagement

The next few posts include a series of 5 myths about diversity and inclusion.

Myth #1 – Change initiatives are meaningless because people can’t or won’t change.

People change because they want to, not just because someone else wants change, that is true. It is also true that if anyone’s values and behaviors violate clear policy and rise to significant levels of impropriety, immediate intervention is required. Clear evidence involving abuse of people, systems, and resources should result in swift, severe action. These are the violations that end up in the news, embarrassing companies and leaving consumers and communities feeling mistrustful and skeptical of organizational authenticity and integrity. Change initiative are meaningless if leaders will not address seriously problematic behavior.

Effective change strategies are built on a foundations hard work, commitment, and trust. Too many leaders hang on to toxic employees. Sometimes it’s because they don’t want to do the hard work of confronting problematic behavior. Sometimes it’s because fiscal priorities outweigh relational human values. A person might be a high performer, but do not underestimate the collateral damage they can cause to their co-workers. The organizational culture, the ethos that comprises the sum total of the people-based systems: relationships, communication, customs, tactic and explicit expectations…that culture is crucial to the longterm success of the business.

The organizational culture is a sensitive and precarious system that needs protection and support to remain vital and healthy. If a change initiative does not help make people feel safe, they are more likely to resist organizational change efforts. People should be nurtured, respected, encouraged, and empowered to live out the organizational values and connect them to their personal values.  People can and will respond to change initiatives if they feel valued and if the impetus for change is clear and authentic.