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Reflections on the Diversity Conference

Embracing a diverse workforce is one of the most pressing organizational development challenges facing industry today. Many people are interested and invested in the Federal Government enhancing organization’s individual capacity to appropriately manage the multicultural workforce. The good news for those invested in this critical issue came a few weeks ago when President Obama signed Executive Order 13171. With this Executive Order comes the expectation that organizations are going to develop Strategic Plans to address diversity. It also provides diversity professionals an opportunity to engage in dialogue about how to take meaningful steps to deal with important issues related to diversity.

Much of the meaningful conversation I had at the conference centered on the challenges people are facing in implementing successful diversity programs, including:

  • Significant budget challenges
  • Other organizational priorities that oftentimes occupy the attention of senior executives

Given that landscape, some of the themes for the conference include:

  • Many different perspectives of diversity in today’s workplace: My assessment is that what’s really important is for us to understand our own biases and appreciate diversity in the largest sense of the word. There is now an opportunity for all the intricate elements of diversity initiatives to come together and leverage our collective perspectives and our collective strengths. We no longer need to continue working without any coordination or working across purposes.
  • Need to Innovate: Using the same tools, the same resources, or delivering training in the same way and expecting the same results is not likely to produce the changes that are needed. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing but expecting different results. Now is the time to break out of old habits, traditions, and resources and embrace innovation as the key to change.
  • As I discussed in my breakout session on creating senior leader champions and creating organizational buzz regarding diversity, we need to speak the language of numbers in influencing senior executives; Why? It’s in their interest to support diversity initiatives. It’s critical to measure the effectiveness of diversity initiatives and be able to report its impact. It is essential that we understand the needs of managers and know how to present diversity initiatives in a way that can directly correlate to the organizations priorities.

With this in mind, I have a few questions:

  • What innovative approaches are you taking to address diversity initiatives?
  • What are some reasons that you have found senior executives to support diversity initiatives?
  • What are you doing with your diversity plans that sets priorities, clear objectives, and develops partnerships to provide value added resources in addressing diversity issues?

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