When implementing an equity program into the workplace, leadership can’t just throw around trendy buzzwords and expect an overnight change. When introducing this topic, it must be done with care. Here are some tips on how to introduce the topic of equity into the workplace.
Start with a conversation
A great place to start is to predict as a leadership team how its audience will receive the training program. That is, how will all workers in the organization, as well as the outside community, respond to the materials and conversations around this topic.
An excellent way to attempt these predictions is to form a focus group of individuals who will go through this “pilot” program with the intent of providing genuine and helpful feedback. To gain the most beneficial results, be sure to create a safe space for this group to express concerns and ideas, ask questions and provide feedback. Additionally, this group needs to be aware that this is a pilot training. With that in mind, they need to be open and willing to accept that you’re allowed to make mistakes. Express to them that you genuinely care about the organization and how this topic is going to be received, which is why you’re asking for their help
Hopefully, this process will give you an idea on what improvements are needed before sending this content out organization-wide. Some companies are hungry for this change, and some shy away from it because it’s not something they’re comfortable with discussing. Depending on your company’s culture, your approach may need to be adjusted and customized to reach your audience.
Engage with the managers and supervisors
When your program is ready to be sent to the organization, it's your middle-level managers and supervisors who will be your vessel in which you communicate your equity initiatives through. They are going to be your boots on the ground implementing the training programs, and they are who employees will go to with questions and concerns. Because of this, two things are an absolute must before launching your program.
First, you MUST train your managers BEFORE launching this program. Make sure they fully understand the expectations, provide tools, resources, language to use and be sure they are ready to represent this plan. Second, all managers MUST BELIEVE in this plan. You may find that some of the managers are not on board. Even a joke or a slight negative comment about equity can severely harm your message during the implementation process. If you find some of your managers aren’t on board, this is something that needs to be dealt with ASAP. Your managers MUST be on board and be willing to encourage and empower their staff. Otherwise, your efforts will fail, and this could create tension throughout the organization.
Have a plan
DON’T start firing off all staff email chains with the first article about diversity that comes across your desk. As soon as you make equity a priority you’re going to be anxious to get content out the door and start today. However, you need to have a plan. The last thing you want to do is to come off as insincere or offensive.
Careful planning and assessing may take time, but it will be worth it in the long run.