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Unlocking Inclusivity: One Manager’s Journey- By Rosalyn Taylor O’Neale
SOUTHPORT, CT –/ -- DiversityBusiness.com /- Organizations are constantly searching for a magic formula to create and sustain a visibly diverse and inclusive workplace. A proven winner has been a series of seven critical steps - the “Seven Keys”. These seven “key s” (a way or means of achieving something ) are:

1) A clearly articulated connection between inclusivity and achievement
2) Leadership behaviors that demonstrate a commitment to the goals
3) Individuals and groups who provide guidance and support
4) Multiple education and training opportunities
5) Clear measurements and performance based metrics
6) Programs that engage all employees
7) Faith that the effort will produce positive change.

Even when all seven keys are understood at the executive level, the “C” Suite, those in mid-level management are often frustrated. They approach HR confused and asking for a roadmap to success that all employees can understand and embrace.

Building the Roadmap: Familiar Territory
For the last eighteen months Patrick , a member of senior management, looked for innovative ways to diversify his team and develop opportunities for his direct reports to improve their leadership and management skills.

Eleven months ago Patrick hired three new managers, pleased that his new hires included two African Americans and one white woman. Within six months after the new appointments he had to terminate one of the African American new hires. Criticism, blame and turmoil filled the halls.

Distressed with the in fighting and finger pointing, Patrick comes to HR with two questions (and doubts). “Is diversity really is an “advantage?” “Can the seven keys unlock a passion for diversity in the face of growing resentment and act as a roadmap to take us from chaos to congruence?” The answer provides our framework for explaining the “magic formula”, the principles of the “Seven Keys”.

The 1st Key Connecting Diversity, Inclusion and Success
At the organization level this is the business case for diversity, often articulated as, “We want to be the workplace of choice.” It is the overarching driver and direction setting for all of the effort.

At Patrick’s level it has to be a group direction that is broad enough to effect meaningful change and narrow enough to be embraced by all employees. It has to fit the culture and the climate. One size rarely fits all.

Advice to Patrick: Developing this business case requires the leadership team to focus on how diversity - visible and invisible supports their business goals.

Outcomes – The management team identifies two major drivers. The first is, the “who” and the “how”. The who (characteristics like gender and ethnicity) and the how, differences like thinking styles, experience, world views, etc. are key to making creative business decisions. They are important for solving business dilemmas like identifying new revenue streams and improving relationships with an evolving customer base in a global marketplace.

The second incentive is the importance of having employees stay with the organization for at least four years. Hiring talent is important; keeping it is essential because the relationship between the managers and their employees is complicated - constantly shifting between developing structured goals and creating innovative ways to achieve them. Success is built on long-term relationships with clients and colleagues and understanding a complex niche product in a constantly changing marketplace.

Step One: The management team articulates the business goals in a written document that describes the importance of diversity and retention (hint: including contributions from diversity in an inclusive culture greatly increases your chance for success). Step Two. They agree to discuss the business case with their respective team and group members, at a minimum, of once per quarter.

The 2nd Key Leaders Demonstrate Their Commitment
"Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing." (Albert Schweitzer) The behavior of leaders is the second “key”. People do not do what we tell them, they do what we show them. They learn by example, by “doing” what we “do”. When the actions from leadership demonstrate that profit is the chief measure of success – Enron is the result.

The power of “walking the talk” is the most effective tool that leaders use to communicate their sincerity and commitment to achieving their goals.

Advice to Patrick: Establish the behaviors you believe are crucial to achieving the business case. Recognize that time, energy, resources and effort are demonstrations of the importance of the goal.

Outcomes – Patrick institutes half-hour weekly meetings focused entirely on diversity and inclusion. The staff agrees to continue these discussions for a minimum of three months and as a consequence they model and communicate the behaviors they value.

They develop a yearlong calendar of diversity related events and activities they will attend or sponsor. Each manager agrees to develop new sources for candidates, join an organization where they are a minority in order to better understand privilege and identify potential ways team members can help.

The management team mandates that each team and staff meeting have as its first agenda item discussions that focus on the benefits of diversity - people, ideas, markets and contacts and the impact that diversity has on revenue. Other team members are asked to take responsibility for crafting and leading subsequent discussions, actions that help to build skills and ownership.

The 3rd Key Gather Strategic and Operational Support
The leadership can set the direction, communicate the commitment and establish the vision, but it is impossible for them to change the environment. It’s like pulling a wagon with one hundred people in it. No matter how committed the management team is they will need help in order to move forward.

In the “C” Suite this strategic and operational support comes from the office of the Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), the Executive Diversity Council, Business Resource Groups and Networks as well as HR, External Relations, Corporate Communications and Supplier Diversity.

For untapped talent, fresh ideas and collegial support Patrick’s group can draw on those resources as well as the local Diversity Team and group specific external organizations such as the Association for Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting.

Advice to Patrick: Identify internal and external resources that offer the most benefits to your business or group. Look for opportunities to fully engage individual employees - remember, the greatest resources are often sitting just outside your office.

Outcomes - The management team maps out a strategy to develop close relationships with three important external resource organizations. They also contact the corporate Black Employee Resource group to share ideas, issues and solutions.

Ineffective management practices are often at the root of “diversity issues”. Patrick’s investigation into the recent termination revealed a communication breakdown between managers and employees. Patrick is convinced that if open and authentic communication was valued and practiced, the termination may have been averted and the negative attention it garnered certainly could have been reduced.

Each manager agrees to conduct on a quarterly basis, one focus group composed of a random selection of 6-8 employees. They also decide to partner with an HR representative and use information they receive to broaden their outlook and modify plans where needed.

The 4th Key Provide Multiple Learning Opportunities
“More than 90% of all Fortune 500 companies have engaged in some form of diversity training.” (Functional Diversity Primer ) It is important to note that there is little difference between what is needed at the corporate and the group levels. Organizations must provide multiple, multilayered training and educational opportunities to all employees at all levels.

Advice to Patrick: Concentrate on training that addresses interpersonal skills and cultural competency. Provide education that is constant, broad and focused and offer learning opportunities that are passive, active, internal and external.

Patrick's group completed the corporate sponsored diversity awareness training in early 2000. The managers agree that this is not sufficient if the group is to make meaningful changes.

Outcomes - Managers agree to look for other resources on diversity and inclusion topics. They discuss ways to keep employees informed about events and activities group members attended or sponsored. They devise informal team competitions based on who can find the most creative answers for business related questions using resources like the Internet.

The group asks Training and Development to provide reading materials and courses for managers, new hires and individual contributors. Several managers and individual contributors sign up for training for trainer courses in order to have expertise readily available to the group. There is an emphasis on learning opportunities that will increase multicultural competent, emotional intelligence and cultural understanding.

The 5th Key - Measurements That Motivate
Organizations live and die by the numbers; “Cost per hire”, “Return on Investments” and “Time to Market”. The fifth key is having useful, relevant and significant measurements and deliverables. Executive bonuses tied to diversity are one of the ways the “C” Suite addresses measurements.

Advice to Patrick: Look for measurements, metrics and performance based deliverables that promote the behaviors that facilitate inclusivity and diversity; that lead to becoming passionate about being diverse and inclusive, not those based on a number or target that narrowly defines diversity.

Outcomes - Patrick and his staff (starting with themselves) begin the rollout of a diversity scorecard measurement tool. This gives every employee a baseline and goals.

HR plays a significant roll in helping the team integrate the scorecard results into the performance and review cycle. The scorecard allows them to achieve in ways that are as diverse as the employees; conducting informal informational interviews, becoming a “buddy” or mentor or taking a virtual tour of the cultural icons of the newest global client.

The 6th Key – Everyone Participates
At the organization, group or team level this means every employee is touched by the diversity and inclusion journey. Participation is a measurement of how inclusive and well articulated the diversity journey is. The more people feel they can benefit from it and understand its importance to the organization, group or team, the more likely they will contribute.

Advice to Patrick: Identify and communicate ways everyone can participate. Pay attention to the breath of participation. Is it mostly people of color or women, or is it only some of he staffs and not others? If it is not everyone, find out why.

Outcomes - There is a noticeable increase in employee participation. Three members of the team have joined the regional diversity council and one person has asked to become a member the Black Employee Group. Informational interviews introduce employees to a wider bandwidth of people -- further developing cross-cultural communication skills and diverse sources for talent. Meeting discussions move from stiff and uncomfortable to interesting explorations of new and more diverse ways of approaching clients and challenges.

The 7th Key - Faith
It takes faith (believing in what you can’t see), time, focus and feeling to create a visibly diverse and inclusive culture and a passionate group. The management team has to believe that if they diligently work on the first six keys, that they will achieve their goals.

Advice to Patrick: Take pride in the large and the modest wins – the faces and voices that now come to the table and contribute. It’s rough in the beginning, smoother in the middle and ultimately as natural as breathing.

Conclusion -Patrick's hope was to eliminate the blame and finger pointing and move toward a supportive, inclusive and diverse workplace. Success generates confidence, which leads to greater participation.

Today his direct reports are better managers, role models and practice more inclusive behaviors and employees are more engaged and supportive.It becomes exciting to think of new ways to operate or to have a satisfying and challenging conversation with someone whose worldview is different.

There may be no magic formula for creating and sustaining visibly diverse and inclusive workplaces, but these seven key elements increase the probability of success at the corporate and group or team level.

Rosalyn Taylor O’Neale CEO and Fearless Leader of Barnes, O'Neale & Assoc. can be reached at www.7keys2success.com

 “Patrick” is entirely fictional - any similarity to any real is purely coincidental.

About DiversityBusiness.com
Launched in 1999, DiversityBusiness, with over 50,000 members, is the largest organization of diversity owned businesses throughout the United States that provide goods and services to Fortune 1000 companies, government agencies, and colleges and universities. DiversityBusiness provides research and data collection services for diversity including the "Top 50 Organizations for Multicultural Business Opportunities", "Top 500 Diversity Owned Companies in America", and others. Its research has been recognized and published by Forbes Magazine, Business Week and thousands of other print and internet publications. The site has gained national recognition and has won numerous awards for its content and design. DiversityBusiness reaches more diverse suppliers and communicates more information to them on a more frequent basis then all other organizations combined. We also communicate with mainstream businesses, government agencies and educational institutions with information related to diversity. Our magazine reaches over 300,000 readers, a monthly e-newsletter that reaches 2.4 million, and website visitors of 1.2 million a month. It is a leading provider of Supplier Diversity management tools and has the most widely distributed Diversity magazine in the United States. DiversityBusiness.com is produced by Computer Consulting Associates International Inc. (CCAii.com) of Southport, CT. Founded in 1980.

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