AUGUST 16, 2023

Don’t Judge Your DEIB Work By A Lack Of Complaints

“There are three essentials of leadership: humility, clarity, and courage.” -Fuchan Yuan

At OAIB, something we recognize from working with so many different clients is that employees are often unaware of just how much their organization is doing to try to get it right.

The leaders we work with share a commitment to do more to create diverse, thriving workplaces. But then we sit down with middle management or employees and we hear “Well, I heard some things, but I don’t really see anything happening.”

When leaders encourage employees (from all backgrounds and levels) to share in their own words the impact of DEIB work (both what’s working and what’s not), word will get around.

So, please don’t base the success of DEIB work on a lack of complaints.

In fact, when an organization is actively engaged in DEIB work, complaints, concerns, and reports of bad behaviors (like microaggressions) will actually rise, because a new level of freedom and safety has been created. Congratulations!

It takes a strong leader to encourage people to share their lived experiences in and out of work, to sit with it, and to really listen.

Many leaders fear looking bad while their employees often just want to be seen and heard.

Realize that negative experiences have been there the whole time, and it’s good that people feel comfortable enough to raise issues. That’s an indicator you’re doing your job to enable, support, and engage in courageous conversations.

We challenge our clients to embrace the discomfort. When negative feedback comes in, we have them listen and play it back for their entire organization. Don’t hide it or be ashamed that it happened. Be proud that you’re engaging and addressing it.

This kind of transparency shows people that leaders don’t want to sweep anything under the rug. It signals a level of commitment from the top that people aren’t used to seeing, and it inspires.

The successful organizations we work with go so far as to report to their metrics on incidents of microaggressions or exclusion: “This quarter, we experienced 15 reports of microaggression and exclusion, and here’s what we’re doing about it…” You don’t have to name names, but you can show that you’re moving in the right direction.

Fuchan Yuan said, “There are three essentials of leadership: humility, clarity, and courage.”

With DEIB, humility is acknowledging that things are happening, and not hiding behind thinking that “this happened in the past,” or ignoring the negative to make yourself feel better.

Clarity is knowing what’s really on your employees’ minds.

Courage is addressing issues head-on, with data, open conversation, and action that is transformative rather than performative.

If you need HR support to implement your vision, let us know.