GUEST: Derek Young, Culture Strategist at Derek Young Speaks and Author of Make My Hindsight Your 20/20
Does your website say you hate certain types of people?
Probably not. I’m willing to bet it says you value diversity.
But those are just words. Actions are what matter.
It’s time to get serious about culture and diversity and make it a part of your organization’s central strategy.
To help explain how, I turned to Derek Young (who goes by D. Y. ), Culture Strategist at Derek Young Speaks and Author of Make My Hindsight Your 20/20, who has been on the frontlines fighting for diversity for over 20 years.
In the latest episode, we discuss:
- The 3 biggest mistakes to avoid when building your culture
- Why accountability means consequences
- How to live the values you claim on your website
Culture: A balanced breakfast
Peter Drucker has a legendary saying you’re probably familiar with: "Culture eats strategy for breakfast. "
It’s a wildly popular quote because it’s true. Culture is one of the most important aspects of your organization — without it, all the strategy in the world can’t help you.
But too many out there just cross their fingers and hope the right culture forms spontaneously at their organization.
It’s time to rethink the quote. As cereal commercials are fond of saying, we need a balanced breakfast. We need to make culture a crucial element of our strategy.
And a key component to any thriving culture is diversity. Diverse backgrounds and voices can only enrich any organization.
Diversity fosters outside-the-box thinking to solve problems — homogeneity is the box.
I’m probably not saying anything you haven’t heard before. And you might be committed to building a culture where diversity, equity and inclusion matter.
But how do you get started?
Well, it helps to know the most common pitfalls to avoid along the way.
In Derek’s experience, there are 3 big ones:
- Not linking diversity, equity and inclusion to the strategy of the business.
- Not having real accountability.
- Getting gimmicky with the actions they do take to promote diversity.
We need real accountability
We’ve already talked about the strategy component — we want a more inclusive organization because we want a better organization.
But in order for any strategy fostering inclusivity to work, your organization needs accountability.
And that means consequences.
“Accountability without consequence is only conversation.”
When it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, accountability is often paid lip service to, but rarely implemented.
As Derek points out, we hold our employees accountable for all sorts of transgressions in a wholly different manner than we do when it comes to discriminatory behavior.
If an employee were to be caught cursing out customers, stealing from the till or even stealing office supplies they can usually expect actual consequences for these actions.
But, for some reason, when it comes to racist, sexist or ageist statements and microaggressions, they can expect a chat.
Does that seem right?
If we want real progress, that needs to change. And it doesn’t take much. We just need to view these violations of our organization’s policies in the same way we do all the others mentioned.
Consequences are how we course-correct our culture.
We need to live our values
If we want to get serious about diversity, equity and inclusion, cutesy one-liners aren’t going to cut it.
Gimmicks don’t work.
Worse still, they take away time that could be used to actually do something about your organizational commitment to inclusivity.
And that’s values you espouse on your website are if you aren’t living them: gimmicks.
“If you're willing to say your organization values caring, commitment, respect — all these beautiful words — it means you’ve got to say you also value diversity, equity and inclusion.”
Just like the people within, an organization requires accountability for any push for inclusion to succeed. This begins with leadership.
Leaders are the ones steering the organizational ship — both directly and indirectly. They need to set the right example for everyone.
If your leaders aren’t willing to model, teach, promote and protect diversity, then your culture is never going to live its purported values.
Don’t waste your time with gimmicks when you can solve the problem.