How to Develop and Implement Diversity Policy
There is always a temptation to do something radically different when implementing new programmes to ensure maximum impact. Whilst one wants to be creative and adopt best practices, it is extremely important to consider past practices and existing expectations of employees regarding these matters.
To develop and implement diversity policy one needs to ensure consistency, especially when it comes to consultation with key stakeholders and employee representatives. It is vital that everyone should have a voice at the earliest opportunity when it comes to how to develop and implement diversity policy. If we fail at this first step towards enhanced inclusivity, this will create additional hurdles and barriers down the track for programmes and negate legitimacy.
Why conversations matter
Workplace policies and procedures need to be accepted as appropriate, fair, and just to not only gain acceptance but also facilitate voluntary compliance. Leaders at every level in the organisation that represent stakeholders and leaders will have deep insight into what will be embraced and what will inherently alienate people. It is therefore essential prior to inception that deep and broad conversation takes place with a range of people on what is contemplated. Draft documentation needs to be available for review as the basis for such conversations that can elicit the right outcomes.
An extract from In Good Company, 2006:5 Innovation at the intersection of Technology and Sustainability is worth consideration in this regard. It states: “Conversation is at the heart of the new inquiry. It is, perhaps, the core human capacity for dealing with the tremendous challenges we face. To engage in great civilisation, we need to ask questions that matter. We cannot afford to spend our time on issues that can’t hold our attention and that don’t touch our hearts. The culture of conversation is a different culture, one that could make a difference in the future of our world.”
Before we attempt to move towards something that we are currently not, it is prudent to take time to consider exactly where and what we actually are. This points us to the fact that to develop and implement diversity policy is a very participative endeavour. Nothing must be unilateral if not explained and justified with significant merit. In addition, normally there will be existing policies and procedures in place touching on diversity and inclusion matters. Fully sharing and grasping how and why things should and will change with the end objectives and goals in sight will enhance the prospects of a positive response. There should never be surprises when documents that bind the organisation and its people are published.
Getting to the core of what matters
Workplace policies and procedures need to capture the essence of what the organisation is as well as its expectations for groups and individuals in terms of behaviour and contribution. It is through consultative conversations that a more subtle and intelligent approach can be achieved in the development of diversity and inclusion programmes. It is important to walk a line between being prescriptive and inflexible in many key areas of human interaction.
With the swift, dramatic, and often radical change taking place in the external environment today, there can be no substitute for staying close to our key stakeholders and people representatives in all aspects of organisational choices and decision making. More than ever before we need to be in sync with our people to flourish. When we are committed to having the right conversations on how to develop and implement diversity policy, we demonstrate our intent to share power with our people in the interests of a mutually envisioned future.