Home Business Why Your Diversity Efforts Fail in the Workplace, Part 4
Why Your Diversity Efforts Fail in the Workplace, Part 4

Why Your Diversity Efforts Fail in the Workplace, Part 4

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By Dr. George Taylor, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Faculty Member, School of Business, American Public University

This article is part of a four-article series on why diversity efforts are failing in the workplace and focuses on developing and integrating meaningful, equity-based business practices.

Performance is another reason why diversity and inclusion efforts fail. Often, there is a lack of clear linkage and communication to organizational, group and individual performance.

Diversity Efforts Are Not Consistently Measured and Related to Performance

Ideally, there should be trust established between employer and employees, employee voices and engagement at key levels, and clearly defined approaches to diagnosing and implementing organizational diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. But without a form of consistent and relevant measurement, the chances that your diversity change initiative being sustained over the time needed to achieve significant cultural impact and business objectives is low.

In other words, employees need to understand the why. They need to understand why the organizational diversity change effort should matter to them as individuals and how it impacts the organization.

It’s common for organizations to develop a scorecard that provides high-level measures with impact indicators for key administrative and operational processes. But what I find is that these scorecards are rarely shared in a meaningful way with employees at all levels of the organization.

There is a long-held, continuous belief by company leaders that links to business goals and objectives alone is sufficient. Nothing could be further from the truth. Employees need to know behavioral expectations and performance outcomes. They must also understand what success looks like from a procedural outcome related to their behavior and to business outcomes.

Next, there needs to be a clear incentive to continue or discontinue certain behaviors and work practices. Absent of this, all behaviors and work practices may appear equal and appropriate, despite having undergone through the various diversity change process events that prove otherwise.

Three Key Ways to Motivate Employees to Participate in Organizational Change

There are three key ways to develop meaningful measurements that motivate employees and advance business goals in a manner that is sincere and consistent with organizational culture:

1) Provide a top-down diversity scorecard that is accessible and embedded within key communication mechanisms. Performance dimensions and aggregate measures need to be accessible to all employees.

To truly build a culture that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion, employees need to know the score. They need to know what areas are successful and which areas are deficient. With this awareness, employees are able to adapt and adjust their behaviors to maintain the organization’s culture while also achieving business goals.

Suggested outlets include onboarding communication literature, knowledge sharing platforms, and electronic and bulletin boards within the organization. An important goal here is for employees to understand how individual and group behaviors impact customer-centered measures such as customer satisfaction, customer retention and share of wallet.

2) Development of a performance dimension that is inherent within performance appraisal forms. The performance dimensions must clearly communicate the desired employee behaviors and the outcome related to key business processes that impact the customers and culture of the organization. Examples of a performance measurement dimension could include diversity commitment with underlying actions and behaviors embedded with those dimensions that include diversity training, participation in diversity events and diversity outreach efforts.

3) Development of a performance management policy that outlines the responsibility, accountability and rewards for diversity. Policies provide the need, objective, and expectations to management and employees. The measures for diversity should be clearly mapped with employees and managers held accountable for their success. Rewards have to be understood by all employees and align with outcomes inherent within the performance appraisal.

What Gets Measured, Gets Done and Gets Changed

As clichéd it may sound to say, “What gets measured, gets done,” it is true. Yet measurement is only a single indicator that necessary actions may be taking place.

To truly create a sustainable, cultural change and to create a culture that embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion, organizations must change. They will be transformed when meaningful and lasting change occurs within the workforce. These changes must be measured, rewarded and understood by everyone. Your job as an organizational leader is to ensure such an environment exists.

The Journey towards True Diversity Takes Time

In the beginning of your diversity efforts, employees will be pushed into areas of discomfort and you will lose employees. At the same time, as you lose employees, you will also gain the right employees.

Your journey in building and maintaining trust will be long and difficult. The conversations are going to be painful. Going through focused diversity change efforts takes time.

Depending on the size of the organization, the current state of its culture, and individual and group demographics, the process of achieving diversity may take years. But be encouraged: as time progresses and assuming full commitment, your culture can and will shift.

Diversity efforts are important work. In this article series, I have described evidence-based approaches that have worked for me and my clients and for other successful diversity change leaders. It is my sincere hope that the advice I have provided helps to frame and facilitate your diversity efforts. At the very least, these articles can start productive conversations.

About the Author

Dr. George Taylor III has been a part-time faculty member in the APU School of Business since May 2015. He is a business owner, management consultant and academic. He holds a DM in Organization Leadership and an MBA in Information Systems Management. Dr. Taylor is certified as a SPHR, SHRM-SCP and CPC. Previously, he was a naval officer specializing in human resources.