Six Ways to Lead Diversity and Inclusion Work in Your Organization
As we wrap up this blog series, I’d like to share lessons learned so far in the process of NCCD’s Diversity and Inclusion Initiative. I expect to add to this list—and look forward to it!
- Be intentional and honest about what you see “in the mirror.” As a leader, you do yourself a disservice by avoiding hard realities.
- Do not try this alone. Engage your best thinkers to bring a variety of perspectives to both the issues to address and the best approaches to addressing them. Talking with people who lead successful diversity and inclusion programs in other organizations and bringing in subject-matter experts are invaluable ways to support your goals.
- Create the container and let others fill it. The role of leadership is to establish overall goals; set and manage expectations about scope, decision making, and autonomy; formalize communication and feedback mechanisms; and provide resources to enable the work. Beyond that, empower your team to initiate actual strategies and tactics.
- Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good—just move forward. If you want every idea and proposal to be completely fleshed out before you begin, you risk delaying this important work. When it comes to cultivating a culture and climate where diversity and inclusion are part of the fabric of the organization, no program will ever be perfect. Missteps and failures are part of learning. This is an area where effort is as important as the outcome.
- Accept that this work will be received with mixed reactions, then let it go. Be as research based as possible, integrate what is known about both successful and ineffective diversity and inclusion initiatives, and pay attention to what you learn. Hearts and minds are moved through demonstration and experience over time.
- Celebrate successes. This requires defined short- and long-term indicators of success. Develop an internal communications strategy for sharing progress and demonstrating the value.
I want to thank the Diversity and Inclusion Committee members for their contributions to this blog series and their work in moving this initiative forward. I am encouraged by the opportunities this initiative brings to NCCD and optimistic about our organization’s future!