Beyond the Performative: Real Change Management in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

In the pursuit of impactful Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), organizations are recognizing the need to move beyond performative actions and to embark on a journey of substantive organizational change. Achieving meaningful transformation requires organizations to be strategic and intentional to ensure that DEI initiatives translate into tangible shifts in culture, practices, and outcomes.

As we all know, change is not easy. Waters et. Al. state that “organizations are often stymied with their DEI policies due to not knowing how to proceed beyond performative support and not providing resources for the work”.  This blog is an effort to help organizations consider how they may make change approachable and achievable with the right resources, planning and efforts.  

Curious? Take five minutes to read the blog below!  

Embracing Strategic Change Management

To go beyond the performative and truly embed DEI into the culture of the organization, opt for a strategic change management approach. This involves not only acknowledging the importance of diversity but also a systematic and purposeful shift towards more inclusive mindsets and practices.

Interested in making real change? Consider the below strategies for Strategic Change Management:
Leadership Alignment:
  • Ensure leadership alignment with DEI goals and integrate them into the overall organizational strategy.
  • Emphasize the role of leaders as change champions and role models.
Communication Plan:
  • Develop a comprehensive communication plan that articulates the rationale, goals, and expected outcomes of DEI initiatives.
  • Foster open and transparent communication channels to address concerns and gather feedback.

Assessing Organizational Readiness

Understanding organizational readiness is important before embarking on DEI change management. That is why EudaOrg always suggests that organizations assess their readiness for change before planning or implementation stages. According to research by Ajuolachi Nwoga, failing to complete a pre-mortem to minimize implementation challenges is one of the reasons organizations fail to implement effective DEI initiatives.  Understanding the organization's culture, existing structures, and potential resistance points is essential for effective implementation.

Below you can see a high-level outline of strategies for assessing organizational readiness:
Cultural Assessment:
  • Conduct a thorough cultural assessment to identify existing norms and values.
  • Gauge the organization's readiness for embracing diversity and inclusion.
Stakeholder Analysis:
  • Perform a stakeholder analysis to identify key influencers and potential sources of resistance.
  • Engage with stakeholders to build support and address concerns proactively.

Setting Clear and Achievable Goals

Change management in DEI requires setting clear and achievable goals that align with the organization's vision. Although we may be tired of hearing about SMART goals, they remain valuable for a reason, THEY WORK! Remember, these goals should be realistic, measurable, and reflective of the broader commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Strategies for Setting Clear and Achievable Goals:
SMART Objectives:
  • Define Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART) objectives for DEI.
  • Ensure alignment between DEI goals and the organization's overall mission.
Inclusive Goal-Setting Process:
  • Involve employees in the goal-setting process to foster a sense of ownership and inclusivity.
  • Encourage feedback and incorporate diverse perspectives into goal development.

Implementing Inclusive Practices

Driving real change in DEI involves implementing inclusive practices across various facets of the organization, from recruitment to daily operations. This requires a commitment to fairness, equity, and the elimination of systemic barriers.

Below you will find some strategies for implementing more inclusive practices:
Inclusive Recruitment Strategies:
  • Review and update recruitment strategies to eliminate biases and promote diversity.
  • Incorporate inclusive language and imagery in job descriptions and recruitment materials.
Diversity Training Programs:
  • Implement comprehensive diversity training programs for all employees.
  • Focus on addressing unconscious biases, promoting cultural competence, and creating an inclusive work environment.

Monitoring, Evaluating, and Adapting

Remember, real change takes time and effort! As stated by Forbes, the journey toward change in DEI is ongoing, requiring continuous monitoring, evaluation, and adaptation. That is why we encourage organizations to establish mechanisms to track progress, learn from experiences, and adapt strategies based on insights gained.  

Find some high-level suggested strategies for monitoring and adaptation below:
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):
  • Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the impact of DEI initiatives.
  • Regularly assess and report on progress towards achieving diversity and inclusion goals.
Feedback Loops:
  • Create feedback loops to gather insights from employees at all levels.
  • Use feedback to identify areas for improvement and adjust strategies accordingly.

Conclusion: A Call for Real Change

Beach and Segars at MIT Sloan, remind us that “DEI isn’t a linear process with a set of tasks to be checked off, but rather a commitment to cultivating core values and turning guiding principles into organizational habits.” This post is an effort to get organizations to think about how to create sustainable change. It emphasizes the need for strategic change management practices to ensure that DEI initiatives result in tangible, lasting transformations.  

Posted by Alli

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Waters, R. D., Chen, Z. F., & Gomez-Barris, L. (2023). Meandering, mistakes, and movement: Stages of organizational culture change for DEI. In Communication and Organizational Changemaking for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (pp. 277-293). Routledge.

Nwoga, A. (2023). Breaking the Invisible Wall: Barriers to DEI Program Implementation. Open Journal of Business and Management, 11(4), 1787-1815., Chicago,  

Beach, A. A., & Segars, A. H. (2022). How a values-based approach advances DEI. MIT Sloan Management Review, 63(4), 25-32.

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