Building a Leading Diverse People Culture

Yesterday I had the privilege of sitting in on the session “Building a Leading People Culture – Flexible and Inclusive Work Environments” presented by Jackie Lillie, Midwest sub-area inclusiveness and flexibility leader and Dot Proux, Ernst & Young, LLP – Chicago. These two chicks were way smarter than me and mostly spoke about things over my head but I did get in on a few things about diversity and inclusion. (look for my take on Flex – next week)


Here are a few things I found interesting. The first being “Diversity is strategy.” I’m sure you already knew that as smart as you are, but to me – it made one of my ears go up and I found myself sounding like Scooby-Doo saying “What’s that Scrappy?” I suppose I knew that myself but had never heard anyone use that word along-side it.

We heard so much about “engagement” this past week but I liked hearing it from the diversity end when I heard “If people feel included they will be engaged.” And that is so true.

If we could somehow do away with all our viewpoints of how we think this world or work place would be so much better if we didn’t have to deal with this particular group of people (be it women, men, blacks, whites, religious, non-religious, gays, non-gays) we could somehow have a mostly drama-free somewhat normal workplace and get rid of our dysfunctional mindset.

I think one of the great points also mentioned that made me really stop and think about the above was that one of the things Dot Proux noticed in her own behavior at work and her feelings against women being in the workforce was this:

The things we experienced in our childhood or throughout our own life can sometimes cause us to be bias towards hidden things that we have not yet acknowledged.”

This so makes sense – It impacts our decisions even and especially in the workplace and how we engage and relate to our employees.

For instance, she told her own story of when she was 9 years old her mother had to go back into the working world after having been a stay-at-home mom. She explained how this so affected her that she then continued thinking “women shouldn’t work, especially if they have children” into her adult years and into her own practice.

After having been coached on the issues associated with a more diverse strategy at Ernst & Young she realized that she had these viewpoints because of her own experiences and that she needed to put those feelings aside and go forward.

Here are some Initiatives that get to the root of leading with a diverse and inclusive strategy:

  1. Creates Executive accountability to be mentors and champions
  2. Bias education for all levels
  3. We need to teach people to lead inclusively
  4. Increases role models and builds divers leadership teams
  5. It should be embedded in all communication and “people” processes
  6. It challenges our evaluation and development processes for equity
  7. It’s integral to our business operations and growth, which deepens our client relationship

Diversity-inclusiveness – really go hand in hand. Diversity is about the mix and inclusivity is about leveraging that mix.

Leveraging diversity through inclusive leadership – is a journey!

I’ll end with these closing high-lights:

*Learn to appreciate differences and attitudes and biases towards (self, others)

*Identify and transform exclusive patterns and behaviors (that you’re not being exclusive)

*Embed and model inclusive practices into the culture (D&I should be looked at in everything you do)

Leave a comment Posted in Balance in the workplace, Conference Junkies, Diversity, Engagement, equal rights, Leadership, strategic planning Tagged , diversity and inclusion, , getting rid of prejudice, SHRM Strategy Conference, susan avello