Aug 201710

Diversity - An Organizational Development Initiative (Part 1)

by Jon Grannis, 6 years ago

Diversity - An Organizational Development Initiative (Part 1)

TAG Contributor and Subject Matter Expert - Kari Heistad

Making the transition from diversity to diversity and inclusion (D&I) requires organizations to shift the way D&I is applied to business operations and understood through the organization. Companies need to move from the notion that diversity is an HR-driven program to one where D&I is an organization-wide initiative. This is an initiative that engages all employees to build upon knowledge, awareness and skills to create a new, more inclusive, respectful corporate culture. Richard Hinton, an HR Generalist for Shawmut Design and Construction, is a long-time diversity advocate, and he speaks to the positive business outcomes that result from running diversity as an Organizational Development initiative.

Diversity and inclusion continue to change. Organizations must notice these changes in order to best understand how to attract and retain key employees, and also establish themselves as a competitive employer and business of choice. An organization that recognizes diversity and inclusion as an Organizational Development initiative tied to business goals is one that will see a noticeable improvement in employee engagement, profitability and company vision.”

In order to effectively move forward to an Organizational Development focus for D&I, it is essential that organizations change their view of D&I programs. In isolation, HR-run diversity programs can do a lot to teach employees about respectful workplaces, but many times these programs lose momentum. Too often, employees feel that diversity programs are non-essential and, with- out ongoing and frequent reinforcement, become disinterested. However, taking an Organizational Development approach to diversity and inclusion means that the initiative is fully supported and reinforced on all sides by business operations and the company culture. While human resources may take a leadership role in the diversity and inclusion efforts, operational lines of the business are also engaged. Managers throughout the organization can help to push the initiative forward once they understand how the work helps to decrease friction, improve communication and fix the real-life challenges that they are facing every day.

This shift to an Organizational Development perspective expands the work beyond diversity to inclusion. Inclusion is about the more beneficial work of changing employee behavior. For employees it means that diversity and inclusion is not something done outside of their daily work, but is an integral part of their daily interactions with coworkers and customers. For companies, it means that diversity and inclusion initiatives can be integrated companywide by aligning their D&I goals with the efficiencies learned from previously successful Organizational Development programs.

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