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6 Reasons Why Successful Change Hinges on Cultural Diversity

Inclusion and cultural diversity in organizations is key to achieving organisational goals

Organizational leadership often unknowingly sabotages change before it has begun. Having discussed the need for change and decided on a strategic path to make change happen, the change management team initiates the project without considering the people in the organization. Consequently, people feel as if change is being done to them, rather than being done with them. This lack of inclusivity creates an insurmountable wall of resistance.

In this article, I look how cultural diversity in organizations improves the potential to make successful change and how you can make cultural diversity and inclusivity part of your organizational culture.

Change is more successful in culturally inclusive organizations

The "2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends" survey found that almost eight out of 10 respondents believe that cultural diversity in organizations, and inclusivity, gives a distinct competitive advantage. Quizzing 245 global organizations, it found that cultural inclusivity led to:

  • Six times more likelihood of innovation
  • Twice the likelihood of meeting financial targets
  • Six times the likelihood of making effective change

However, the research also found that cultural diversity was considered as a compliance function rather than an element of organizational culture. Thus, cultural diversity in organizations is improving, but cultural inclusivity is lagging.

The need for cultural diversity and inclusivity in the change process

Your people may have no problem with your leadership team developing strategy, but they do want to be included in the process of how that strategy will be put into practice. They also have much to offer.

In a world where businesses are selling to an increasingly diverse customer base, your managers, team supervisors and employees can provide valuable insight into customer needs and desires. They can offer ideas to develop more acceptable approach strategies within different cultural environments, thus improving the success of your sales drive.

Additionally, cultural diversity includes not only race, but also demographics of age and education, and different values, beliefs, thought processes, and preferred communication channels. These cultural aspects can help in refining your change management approach, and organizations that have an inclusive culture find that their problem-solving and innovation capability is improved. Thus, the ability to be agile and adapt the change process on the journey to the future vision is increased.

With an inclusive culture, employees feel more at ease to be themselves. They will share problems more readily and will not be scared to make mistakes. This empowers people to take responsibility, share ideas, and be more innovative in their approach to your strategic vision.

How can you embed cultural diversity and inclusivity in your organizational culture?

The Deloitte research found that the most successful organizations were led by six principles when developing a culture of diversity and inclusivity:

  1. Switch from a mindset of diversity as a compliance function to diversity as critical to business success. This helps leaders understand the value that a culturally diverse workforce brings.
  2. Think not only of diversity, but of inclusion. Focusing on including culturally diverse employees in team creation will help broaden minds and acceptance of others.
  3. Prioritize inclusivity as a leadership quality, enabling leaders to improve their emotional intelligence and thus encourage employees to greater collaboration.
  4. Ensure that organizational leadership embraces cultural inclusivity of demographics and thought. Ensure that this is the case in decision-making forums from the top down, including those decisions that involve promotion, development and change.
  5. Provide resources that enable people to take action in an environment that is conducive to cultural diversity. Provide coaching and mentorship to tackle unconscious bias and encourage a culturally diverse workforce to be their authentic selves.
  6. Evolve from a metrics-driven organization to one that embraces accountability throughout its ranks. Communicate with transparency, sharing strategic goals and including everyone when resetting values and vision. Consider how to encourage diversity and inclusivity with reward, recognition, and compensation programs.

If you plan to make organizational change, include your people in it. Embrace the merits of cultural diversity, and allow your people be part of the planning process. You will benefit from the greater insight and diversity of ideas received, and people who are involved in planning are less likely to engage in resistance.

Contact Forward Focus today to discover how an Emotional Intelligence course will develop and embed effective personal skills in the workplace, for leaders, managers and employees. These skills will aid employee engagement, breaking down barriers to communication and collaboration to create an environment ready to accept change.

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