Keeping it at the Forefront

Keeping it at the Forefront

"Start an annual survey to track involvement of the minorities and under-represented groups in committees, meetings, as volunteers at championships and more." (John Paton, Alberta Executive Director)

Creating and maintaining a diverse workforce and workplace needs to be a continuing effort. As noted in the last section, managing and maintaining a diverse workforce will mean more than bringing individuals of minority status or other under-represented groups into the workforce and doing diversity training. Inclusion and diversity needs to remain at the forefront of the organization’s work.

There are a variety of underlying sociological and social psychological processes at work that tend to separate races, ethnicities and other groups, even among people in North America who value equality and diversity. Left to our natural tendencies, our affinity to others similar to us in many ways, our need for boundaries, and other social factors, organizations will tend to gravitate toward internal similarity, despite our best intentions not to do so.

As also noted in the last section, being intentional and creating a mindset for inclusion and diversity will be important for implementing your strategies. It will also be important for sustaining the efforts. In order to sustain your efforts, it is important that your diversity management is proactive and that it is continued over time. This helps to ensure that your inclusion and diversity efforts are a process vs. a project.

In this section, activities will be highlighted that can help an organization continue to keep its inclusion and diversity vision in plain view and to make strides toward that vision. You can involve a variety of groups in the activities described below. The involvement of others continues weaving cultural diversity and minority inclusion into the organization. Some of these groups could be a management group, a top-level board or a cross-section of organizational employees. See Forming a Foundationfor more discussion about involving groups.

Here is a list of the topics to be addressed in this section.

Regular periodic evaluation

Periodic assessments and measurements are helpful tools for measuring your progress. Annual or biannual evaluations or measurements, particularly in the early stages of your program, can be helpful. You do want to allow sufficient time for your strategies to have an effect. Yet, you also want to do these frequently enough that they can be used, with their ensuing discussions, as instruments for keeping inclusion and diversity on the mind of those in the organization.

Several of the measures you use should help determine your progress toward the goals that were developed for your minority inclusion efforts. The measurements could involve numerical measures, such as the number or percentage of minority or other under-represented groups as board members, committee members, employees at various levels or positions, and tournament workers. This could also involve assessing the turnover rate for minority or other under-represented groups, and the reasons for turnover.

In addition to such measures, you may also repeat any assessment tool that you used previously to examine where your organization stood in terms of diversity. Beyond these measurement and assessment tools, it will also be important to evaluate the effectiveness of your strategies for minority inclusion, whether it is recruiting for tournament workers and other groups, selection and rotation on boards and committees, hiring processes for employees, diversity training or mentoring relationships.

Also as part of your evaluation, do some research for new ideas and information. This could include discovering successful strategies being implemented in other organizations. Inclusion of under-represented groups of people and creating diverse workplaces is a relatively new field with rapid change. New ideas will be advanced and techniques will be learned and made known. In addition to all the other information gathered, you also will want to have this information available as you update your rationale, vision, goals and particularly strategies for the next phase of your inclusion and diversity efforts.

Exit interviews

Looking at turnover rates for minority and other under-represented groups was mentioned above as part of your assessment tools. There can be a variety of reasons for such turnover among these groups. Rotations on committees or boards may impact these numbers in some cases. Could there be other underlying reasons? For employees, is there a difference in hiring and turnover rates among minorities? One way to identify issues behind these less obvious cases of turnover and departure are exit interviews. The exit interview information gathered over time can be added to other information at your regular periodic evaluations.

There are many exit interview formats that organizations use. Many will solicit general information about the workplace. However, many may not be specific enough to get at issues related to race, ethnicity or other minority status, and departing employees may not want to bring it up. Therefore, you may have to ask more specifically to get answers to such questions. As an example, you may use a question like the following: “We value having a diverse workforce, including staff, board, committees and tournament workgroups, and want to do as much as possible to make that a reality. Would you please give us some feedback on how we are doing in that area or what we could be doing better?” You may even add a few additional prompts about the hiring and selection process and the work environment’s inclusiveness. You are encouraged to run such questions and the process by your Human Resources lead or your legal counsel.

If you use such questions, you will probably want to ask them of anyone exiting your organization regardless of race, ethnicity or other minority status. In fact you may want to integrate such questions and others into a systematic process, such as a questionnaire, that is used with departing employees and others in your workforce. Departing workers are often reluctant to bring up issues that may be perceived negatively and viewed as sour grapes, so to speak. Asking directly about such issues and encouraging candor can help. Making such questions part of the routine exit interview takes it another step. If people see this as part of the process for everyone departing the organization, it is another step in integrating minority inclusion into the workforce and workplace. People are also more inclined to see the organization as really seeking feedback about its minority inclusion and diversity effort. This will also enhance the chances of them giving such feedback.

Review your Rationale, Vision and Goals

The information gathered in the regular periodic evaluation, including exit interview summaries, should result in an evaluation of how well you are meeting your vision and goals, and how well your strategies are working. This is often where we look at modifying strategies to be more effective to meet the previously established vision and goals. However, take some time to review your rationale, vision and goals also.

Like re-using the assessment tool, reviewing your rationale, vision and goals is again repeating part of your Forming a Foundation work. It is work worth repeating or revisiting. In most cases you may add a reason or two to your rationale. You might adjust your vision statement or decide it is fine as it is. Your goals will likely be the area that will need more reworking. You may have achieved some of your goals and need to set new ones. Organizations are certainly encouraged to set aggressive goals, since that is a good way to get things done. However, it may result in some goals not being met. Thus, these goals may now need some revision. Also as you have implemented your diversity efforts, you may have developed some additional ideas that you like to see as new goals for your organization.

The periodic review and revision of your rationale, vision and goals will help keep a solid foundation for, and sustain the efforts of, your minority inclusion and diversity work.

Revisit your strategies

Your regular periodic evaluation should also help you determine some degree of effectiveness of the strategies you previously implemented. Do you need to implement new strategies to be more effective? With new goals established as the result of your evaluation, you may need to implement some new strategies to reach these new goals. Maybe your new goals include expanding your efforts to other parts of your workforce. What new strategies or techniques have you found through your research? Repeat the checklist at the end of the Strategies section. Add any new strategies you have discovered from your research or other sources that can be implemented within your workforce. This will help you systematically expand and enhance strategies to various parts of your workforce and provide you with a new written strategies plan to implement.

In many cases you will want to enhance several of the strategies you have already implemented. Two strategies worth particular mention are diversity training and managing diversity. You will want to look at expanding diversity training to new topic areas in addition to bringing diversity training to more areas of your workforce. New topic areas would include workshops about more cultural groups and other diversity issues that may have been identified in your evaluation and assessment.

You will also want to expand your techniques for managing diversity well. It is not reasonable to expect that you will have all the techniques for managing diversity well in the initial stages of your inclusion and diversity work. It will take concerted effort over time and will likely always be a work in progress. If you have implemented many of the practices suggested in this toolkit, you will have a great start to managing diversity. Just as developing cultural competence is an ongoing, lifetime process, managing diversity well will also be ongoing. Be on the lookout for ways to improve your diversity management. As this field continues to develop, more about management skills and techniques will become available. Be a learner of these skills and techniques. Put useful skills and techniques into practice and continue using effective techniques that you are already using. This would include continuing to make inclusion and diversity topics a part of staff, board, committee and other organizational meetings, which will be one way to keep these efforts at the forefront of your work.

Celebrate your successes and launch continued work

Many organizations don’t take enough time to celebrate their successes. In many cases, organizations are so busy doing their work that they may not take much time to reflect upon and evaluate their efforts. After you have evaluated your inclusion and diversity efforts, take time to celebrate your successes. Find a means that is appropriate for your organization and the various parts of your workforce. You may have different activities for different parts of your workforce. Also, use the plans you have developed as a launch for future efforts. The celebration and launch could be separate items at different activities or part of the same activity or activities. Include as many parts of your workforce as possible in the celebration and launch activities. This will be another way to emphasize the importance of your inclusion and diversity efforts. Reporting your successes and plans to your board or governing body can develop an important level of accountability.

The process of periodic evaluations; along with reviewing rationale, vision and goals; and refining, adding and implementing strategies, will be an important part of an effective inclusion and diversity program. As our world continues to change rapidly, there will be new diversity strategies proposed, developed and implemented, which should be considered. There will also likely be new minority and under-represented groups to consider in inclusion efforts. This process will help to make use of such new knowledge and situations. It will help us avoid complacency and help create an ongoing process to have an inclusive, diverse, cohesive and well-functioning workforce.

Checklist for Keeping Inclusion at the Forefront

Finding time to review, evaluate and develop additional plans for your inclusion and diversity efforts can be challenging. There may be the desire to move through this process quickly. However, following these steps can help you re-energize your efforts, make them more effective, and sustain them over a longer period of time. Below is a checklist to help you for taking steps to keep minority inclusion in at the forefront of your work.

  • Decide about others, including what groups, to involve in the following processes. Remember they can be different groups for several of the processes.
  • Gather information to evaluate your minority inclusion and diversity work. This includes repeating any previous assessments or a new assessment. Also include exit interview information.
  • Review the information gathered to identify successes and new efforts to implement.
  • Review and update your rationale, vision and goals for your minority inclusion efforts, making written changes and additions. Write down some ways you can measure progress toward your goals.
  • Repeat the Checklist for Strategies in the Strategies section adding new strategies and including more components of your workforce.
  • Celebrate your successes and provide information and direction to staff about continuing and new efforts. Include reporting to the board or governing body and other groups.

Make any additional plans for strategy implementation. Again, include ways to measure success of implementation and when you will conduct the next evaluation of your efforts.