Monday, January 3, 2011

Diversity & Inclusion - Part 1

Today begins an occasional series on my Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) journey. Obviously these issues are important, but I'm looking at them not only from the standpoint of "the right thing to do"; but, that I need to address them in order for my organization to excel.  This isn't about a regulatory mandate or compliance pressure.  This is about making D&I part of how work is done, not an additional task to complete each day.  This is about being world-class.

So here I am, ready to take a deep dive into D&I.  Gut-check I the right one? Am I the most knowledgeable? Am I the "expert?" So far the answers are easy - No, I am not.

Now what?  Do I throw in the towel because I'm not ready?  Do I wait for the perfect time to kick things off?  Do I invest months of time preparing so the launch will be perfect?  Or, do I take Joe Gerstandt's advice and:  1-Start over in my understanding of D&I, 2-Focus on human nature; and, 3-Get going?

I'm going with Joe's advice.

To assume I "know" the fundamentals of an effective D&I initiative is more than a stretch.  So I'm going to listen, and learn, and push myself to throw away my first reaction to things and go farther.  I've spent years trying to standardize the behaviors, style, and reactions of the employees in my organizations, but Jason Lauritsen turned that view upside down with his recent post at Talent Anarchy.  Standardization does not help, it waters down, distills, and fails to leverage the unique talents and experiences of the employees all around me.

So, I'm starting over.

I now find myself in an interesting place...I'm excited about this process not only for my own growth, but for the impact it may have on my organization. However, simply because I am engaged in this process does not necessarily mean it is going to be a success.  Recognizing now that I need to leverage the talent both inside and outside my immediate circle of influence is essential to achieving sustainable results.  

Do you have valuable lessons to share as part of your D&I journey?  Where did you stumble?  How have you succeeded?  Or, do you still think diversity is an annual ethnic foods picnic and an EEO-1 report?

I'd love to hear from you, and please pass the rice and beans.

No Excuses. 

pics courtesy of and


  1. Wow. Great self-observation going on here. Just as you are reaching out to your blog readers, I suggest you reach out to employees. Ask about their own observations, especially regarding inclusion. Do they feel that they are heard on issues? Do they think they have ideas that would help the organization but see no avenue to present them?
    Do they feel put-off when you want to talk about hockey? (Sorry, couldn't resist - I work with a couple of Ohio State football fanatics and I have heard ENOUGH!).
    Sounds like you are off to a great start. Just don't forget to include the introverts.

  2. Thanks for the comment! A large part of our strategy involves our employees in the process v. a group of managers deciding what is best. We're also deep into a project that directly uses ideas from our staff (500+ & counting) to improve quality, operations, efficiency, etc. D&I is an important next step to make sure we're not only improving traditional "business" issues, but that we address our culture as well.