Changing Your Company’s Culture for a More Inclusive Tomorrow

Emily Purry
Diversity and Inclusion—two words you hear daily in the workplace. It’s not unusual for companies to invest in expensive diversity training events and seminars. It’s also not unusual for these efforts to yield little results and sometimes negative backlash. As a result, employees become increasingly frustrated with their corporate culture and, in some cases, end up leaving.

A few things need to happen before appropriately launching a diversity program. As tempting as it is to jump in with both feet, the program needs to be looked at strategically to have the most significant impact.

Here are some first steps in creating an organizational culture shift.

Leadership must define equity and what it means to the organization
Without a clear picture of what equity should look like, any program will become fragmented and disconnected. The leadership team needs to take the time to define equity, create clear goals and design a plan to achieve those goals. A culture change can’t happen unless it’s a priority on leadership’s plate.

Leadership must lead by example
Make sure leadership’s efforts are “real.” If the company is only pretending to care, everyone will know. Lead by example in the workplace and the community. Start highlighting the company’s efforts with employees. Most of all, be willing to admit mistakes and shortcomings.

Engage with everyone
The best way to discover the true culture within the organization is to speak with all employees. Assess what is missing and what is going well. Creating a comfortable environment where employees can express their concerns, will go a long way.

Introduce conversations, but gently
Send out some “soft” messages (i.e., letters, events, articles) that show this is something of interest to the organization and is worth attention. Make it a point to prove to the company that this is a priority.


Implement programs, training events and coaching sessions to promote a learning environment
For a true culture shift to take place, the environment has to be one where people are allowed to make mistakes and be supported by their leadership team, including ALL levels of management.

Be willing to bring in outsiders to help point out gaps and problem areas
Sometimes, an unbiased opinion makes a world of difference. When conversations need to happen, an impartial party can help facilitate the discussion, administer training and avoid further disrupting the organizational culture.

Culture shift can’t happen if people are uncomfortable or afraid to be themselves. It’s time to make this topic a priority among your workforce. Your company culture, and ultimately, your bottom line, will thank you for it.

Diversity and Inclusion—two words you hear daily in the workplace. It’s not unusual for companies to invest in expensive diversity training events and seminars. It’s also not unusual for these efforts to yield little results and sometimes negative backlash. As a result, employees become increasingly frustrated with their corporate culture and, in some cases, end up leaving.

A few things need to happen before appropriately launching a diversity program. As tempting as it is to jump in with both feet, the program needs to be looked at strategically to have the most significant impact.

Here are some first steps in creating an organizational culture shift.

Leadership must define equity and what it means to the organization
Without a clear picture of what equity should look like, any program will become fragmented and disconnected. The leadership team needs to take the time to define equity, create clear goals and design a plan to achieve those goals. A culture change can’t happen unless it’s a priority on leadership’s plate.

Leadership must lead by example
Make sure leadership’s efforts are “real.” If the company is only pretending to care, everyone will know. Lead by example in the workplace and the community. Start highlighting the company’s efforts with employees. Most of all, be willing to admit mistakes and shortcomings.

Engage with everyone
The best way to discover the true culture within the organization is to speak with all employees. Assess what is missing and what is going well. Creating a comfortable environment where employees can express their concerns, will go a long way.

Introduce conversations, but gently
Send out some “soft” messages (i.e., letters, events, articles) that show this is something of interest to the organization and is worth attention. Make it a point to prove to the company that this is a priority.


Implement programs, training events and coaching sessions to promote a learning environment
For a true culture shift to take place, the environment has to be one where people are allowed to make mistakes and be supported by their leadership team, including ALL levels of management.

Be willing to bring in outsiders to help point out gaps and problem areas
Sometimes, an unbiased opinion makes a world of difference. When conversations need to happen, an impartial party can help facilitate the discussion, administer training and avoid further disrupting the organizational culture.

Culture shift can’t happen if people are uncomfortable or afraid to be themselves. It’s time to make this topic a priority among your workforce. Your company culture, and ultimately, your bottom line, will thank you for it.

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Emily PurryEmily Purry is a Life Strategist and Educator in Portland, Oregon who helps individuals experiencing disabilities achieve their personal and professional goals. Before joining the INCIGHT team, Emily was a disability rights advocate and trainer. Legally blind herself, and in chronic pain from a recent, debilitating injury, she understands the daily challenges faced by a person with a disability. Her own life experience as a person with disabilities and as a mother of a child with a disability informs how she helps her clients overcome daily challenges and work towards long-term goals. Emily has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a Master’s in Business Management & Organizational Leadership, a license in massage therapy, and is certified as a personal trainer. She also is a certified drug and alcohol counselor. Emily offers effective life coaching and public speaking services to individuals and families nationwide. She is also available as a trainer on topics related to disability and equity.