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Why Your Diversity Activities Are Failing

by | Aug 11, 2021

Most diversity, equity and inclusivity initiatives in companies fail to result in real change or create real progress.


The problem with most activity is simply that – it is activity. Random activity. Regardless of the best of intentions, random activities will not produce desired, sustainable and strategic results.

So what’s the better path forward?

Without oversimplifying a very complex issue, I offer you this: There are two parallel paths for driving impact and both are requirements for real results. Neither path on its own gets you to where you want to be. They must coexist and work together.

Start by picturing a ladder.
  1. The right rail represents the organization. This is its customized strategy, programming and responsibility to equity, inclusivity and sense of belonging.  Organizations must cast the vision, design company specific strategies, create measurement metrics with accountability, assess and reprogram processes, and ensure appropriate programming
  2. The left rail represents individual actions.  These are the personal behaviors and shared accountability to creating a sense of belonging on teams.

So when each rung of the ladder connects the two paths, it creates a foothold to make progress toward the desired goals.

For example, in organizations with a priority emphasis on individual actions, but lacks organizational-level messaging, accountability and programming, employees typically will say that the organization is “not doing enough.” This is true even in organizations where an individual sense of belonging is relatively high.

However, if organizational efforts (such as vision statements or programs) exist without individual expectations and individual accountability, desired progress still stalls and employees won’t move closer to the desired sense of belonging.

Here’s the bottom line, your ladder collapse if you have only individual efforts. And, if you have only organizational-level efforts, your ladder collapses, too. In contrast, with each side firmly in place, you can step toward real impact and true belonging, rung by rung. In fact, if you’ll simultaneously approach this work on both levels you can create meaningful, life impacting results. One step closer to the change we long to see.