DIVERSITY: WHY IT IS MORE IMPORTANT NOW THAN EVER
Come Friday January 20th 2017, the reins of our beloved America will be handed to a new administration. Whether you are happy or sad about the incoming administration, one thing is for sure: diversity initiatives are more important now than ever. Why? Because we need to make sure that we continue to foster work environments where we value the perspectives and ideas from people that are different from each other. We also need to ensure that the progress made by the council created in a 2011 executive order to bring more people from a wider array of backgrounds into the federal workforce does not go to waste.
Here are 3 things that your organization can do to ensure it continues to value and defend diversity initiatives in the federal government:
- Engage new incoming leadership early: With the incoming administration it is possible that many organizations will experience change in leadership. It is crucial to communicate to these incoming leaders the importance of diversity in your organization. Make sure that major diversity and inclusion strategies and plans are continued and even protected. Employ communication tactics and outreach initiatives to ensure diversity and inclusion strategies are fully supported and promoted by new senior leaders.
- Use this as an opportunity to create awareness: Some of your employees, especially those who are part of minorities, may feel discouraged, concerned and maybe even anxious with the incoming administration. Take this time to encourage dialogues around the topic of diversity and facilitate group discussions among your employees to talk openly and honestly about their concerns. Let your employees know that their contributions are invaluable to the organization. It’s important that your diverse workforce understands that their work is important now more than ever. Consider hosting diversity appreciation gatherings or all-hands events where leadership highlights the importance of diversity in the organization as well as sharing success stories that were a direct result of diversity and inclusion strategies.
- Revisit, revamp and enhance your diversity and inclusion strategic plan: Now may be a good time to revise and update your organization’s diversity initiatives. Look for areas that may seem weak and suggest ways to strengthen them. For example, your organization may have struggled with hiring or retaining a specific minority or protected group. Consider establishing focus groups to look at those specific areas and suggest strategies for improvement. It is important that your organization not only makes their employees feel their opinions are valued, but actually take the time to contemplate what those opinions mean about the organization’s culture and whether it is in the best interest of the organization to implement a change.
Keeping Diversity alive in our organizations should remain a top priority for the coming years as well as defending what was accomplished by the outgoing administration. An article published on November 28 2016 by the Government Executive, pointed out the successful implementation of blind applications in hiring by the Agriculture Department, which resulted in a 50 percent increase of women in Senior Executive Service positions. In addition, agencies exceeded the administration’s goal of hiring more than 100,000 disabled individuals in government over five years, among other significant achievements.
We need to strive to create work environments, and ultimately an America where the only colors that matter are red, white and blue.