Who Will Tell the Employees They’re Supposed to Like Gay People?

Don't waste time developing a culture change strategy unless you're going to implement it throughout your organization.

I was consulting with an organization that had launched a diversity and inclusion/culture change initiative. Previously, they had conducted an organizational culture assessment, made some changes, added domestic partner benefits, and had trained their senior managers.

They were on several "best places to work" lists. After meeting with senior management, I was impressed with their sincerity and passion, as well as their stated business strategy. They asked me to conduct additional training, using case studies.

As I was leaving the building, one of the senior managers, Jasmine, who had been in the meeting, approached me. She said, "if you use any case studies that mention LGBT people, (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender,) please don't ask me to volunteer." She then went on to tell me that she was a lesbian, and did not feel safe at all being "out." Jasmine told me that other LGBT people in management didn't let people know their orientation or even take advantage of domestic partner benefits.

According to her, the diversity and inclusion/culture change initiative was stuck two levels down from the executive suite, and had not been shared with mid-level managers, supervisors or front line workers in manufacturing.

People still were making homophobic, racist and sexist jokes and not being chastised or suffering any consequences at the lower levels. Jasmine let me know that she had to interact with people at the lower levels and needed them to respect her and accept her leadership. Since the initiative had not been fully implemented she was not comfortable with people finding out that she was in a same-sex relationship for over twenty years.

After working with the organization for a while and meeting different employees, I found that in fact, a lot of time and money had been spent on assessments, planning and meetings, but there was very little implementation. All employees still weren't included in the initiative, and therefore weren't engaged in making it a success. At the lower levels there was no understanding about inclusion, or understanding how diversity and inclusion could benefit them.

If you want to create a workplace where employees love to do their best work, and customers love to do business, you need to develop a strategy for inclusion and implement that strategy.

The five "I"s of a dynamic workplace are; Inclusion, Implementation, Individual Convenience Perks, Immersion and Integration. You can't get the last three, or realize the first without Implementation.

Simma Lieberman

"The Inclusionist"
 
Creating workplaces where people love to do their best work and customers love to do business 
Simma Lieberman Associates
510.527.0700
Fax: 510.527/0723
1185 Solano Ave. PMB 142
Albany, CA 94706
www.simmalieberman.com