Delivering on Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) vision requires leadership commitment and system redesign. This approach goes beyond compliance requirements and foundational trainings and requires organizational leaders to look deep into their culture, people, processes, and policies. While there is still much progress that is needed to deliver justice and equity, leaders across the organizational spectrum are driving impact with their JEDI strategy.
A recent article, Open to Change, which features our Managing Principal, Kristina Kohl, highlights the importance of a JEDI strategy that is cross-functional and holistically approaches an organization’s vision and mission for equity and belonging. The process begins with assessing your organization’s capacity for JEDI change including culture, systems, processes, leadership, and policies. Driving impact requires drilling deep into organizational culture as represented by shared values, attitudes and behaviors, and artifacts. To create a culture of belonging, organizations must dig deep into these areas and consider if they are creating a dominant culture in which only a certain group of people can excel or an inclusive culture that enables all employees to thrive.
Here are some best practices to create a culture of belonging:
- Engage with stakeholders to understand how your organization is perceived both internal and externally. Tools such as the Organizational JEDI Framework are useful in this assessment process.
- Develop leadership competencies to promote belonging including at the Board and C-suite levels. Consider competencies of a Social Impact Leader as a guide in curating organizational leaders that model desired behaviors, focus on people, provide vision as well as implementation expertise.
- Develop and support role models and networks to represent, engage, and support a diverse talent pool. Role models must be developed across the organization with a depth and breadth to ensure meaning representation and meaningful impact.
- Build conditions for organizational intelligence by going beyond training programs to redesigning organizational systems, processes, and policies. Consider your employer brand, talent ecosystem, leadership development, decision making processes, resource allocation, data highlighted, and metrics tracked.
- Reshape norms and promote transparency of process and decision making. Hybrid and remote work options are important for creating a culture of belonging where each employee can bring their best selves to work. To make these work structures effective, vehicles for adequate employee exposure as well as support and tools for managers must become the norm.
- Align compensation with JEDI strategy. Ensure that your reward structure aligns with the behaviors and actions that you are promoting as an organization.
- Build belonging through mentorship, sponsorship and allyship. Each of these serves a different purpose. Mentorship focuses on influencing, guiding and advising mentees. Sponsorship facilitates engagement with a more senior person to advance one’s skills, experience, and career. Allyship is when a person of privilege seeks to operate in solidarity with an underrepresented or marginalized group.
- Promote team norms that promote psychological safety. Consider practices around setting agendas, accommodating accessibility needs, promoting participation by all team members, and allowing team members to share differing perspectives.
For a deeper dive into these best practices, read Kristina Kohl’s book, Driving Justice Equity Diversity and Inclusion.
As the Open to Change article suggests, the journey continues. While the headlines may be filled with actions by global corporations, the majority of people work in small and mid-size organizations so driving impact within these businesses remains crucial.