By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

The threat because of which we retreated in haste, from office buildings to kitchen tables or home offices, at the onset of the pandemic, seems to be abating. Today people are gearing to return to work as the pandemic comes under control. However, the reactive stance that businesses assumed at the onset of the pandemic, no longer remains a valid strategy to design the hybrid workplace. 

As the world of work moves towards a hybrid avatar, seamlessly amalgamating work from home with on-premises, organizations are moving to create transformational strategies to ensure business success in the future. The future of work is now centered on how you work. Not where you do it from.

The hybrid workplace needs a transformational strategy – one that is intentional and purpose-driven. This strategy will remain incomplete if enterprises do not account for the impact of this world of work on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. 

The extraordinary circumstances caused by the pandemic threw greater light on the racial and societal inequities in our society. While enterprises were hiring and were greatly focused on diversity, the move to the hybrid workplace has shifted priorities. 

A recently concluded report on workplace culture and inclusion shows that 

  • Only 53% of employees rate their workplace diversity, equity, and inclusiveness culture as healthy. 
  • 58% feel that their organizations still have undefined diversity and inclusion goals. 
  • More than 67% feel that their organizational leaders need to do more to drive diversity, equity, and inclusion across the organization.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are playing a big role in enterprise transformation. A report from McKinsey highlights how diverse and more inclusive organizations are more profitable than those that are not. While diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives are good for business, the time to do more than just pay lip service to these initiatives is now. 

Why Diversity, Equity and Inclusion matter even more now

COVID-19 gave organizations a chance to evaluate and reconsider what workplaces should look like. Ushering in the Future of Work and driving the focus to build a hybrid workplace demands a technological transformation to ease the logistical nightmare. But the hybrid workplace also shows the promise of being a cultural facilitator. This is because the work environment becomes more boundary-less while bringing in geographically distant workers closer. 

Thus, to access a greater talent market and to support geographically dispersed teams, bringing strategic focus on designing relevant diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives becomes paramount. 

From Technological Hybridity to Cultural Hybridity

In the hybrid workplace, employing technological hybridity will be commonplace. New platforms, tools, and technologies will drive better workflows and processes. And just like this technological hybridity, it also demands a more intentional move to enable the coexistence of multiple individual identities. This becomes especially relevant in today’s context where employees desire a greater alignment of individual identities and the value system of the organization.

Organizations need to work intentionally towards creating an environment that fosters and encourages inclusion, and diversity and promotes equity. 

Leveling the playing field is essential

At present, most organizations are focused on managing the day-to-day challenges of managing remote and in-person teams. However, along with this, they must now focus on creating a playing field that is even and fair to all. And we cannot create an even playing field unless we address the unconscious biases that may be at work dividing in-person and remote employees and those coming from marginalized and underserved communities. 

Accounting for the need of all employees is mandatory

Diversity, inclusion, and equity are the key components that ensure that organizations function better and innovate faster. As the workplace becomes hybrid and relies more on technology, organizations need to reskill and adapt to the demands of digital transformation to help employees manage the climate of change. This reskilling and upskilling extend to power skills that drive collaboration and innovation while accounting for the needs of ‘all’ employees. 

Undoing unconscious bias is imperative for engagement 

The hybrid workplace will need to focus heavily on undoing unconscious biases and work towards becoming more inclusive to drive transformational organizational outcomes. A focused effort into diversity and inclusion unlocks new opportunities to accelerate reskilling and simultaneously nurturing a mindset of continuous learning. 

By becoming more intentional about their diversity, inclusion, and equity strategy, organizations ensure that they level the playing field and allow all employees equal opportunities. These moves drive better employee engagement as employees feel that the organization is invested in their growth. This also strengthens the organization’s ability to manage change and foster growth. With time, the organization becomes more inclusive and diverse. 

How Peer Coaching Can Help

Just like how technology is driving the workplace, technology can drive diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives as well. Moving towards a culture focused on continuous learning leveraging peer coaching can be a strategic starting point for the same. After all, with knowledge comes power. 

Peer coaching is an effective medium to change unconscious bias. That is because bias can only be removed by virtue of continuous and contextual interactions to drive behavioral change. Employing a technology-powered peer coaching platform can help employees identify their growth needs and address challenges that impede professional progress. 

The opportunity to access coaches to drive growth makes sure that the people in the D&I umbrella are not struggling to identify growth pathways, can easily navigate the organizational network, and build trust bridges across the organization.

The rules of engagement have to evolve in a hybrid workplace. We can no longer afford to take a cut-and-paste approach to important initiatives such as diversity, inclusion, and equity. Those organizations who take data-backed and technology-powered approaches for their initiatives will be more successful in their efforts simply because their efforts will be more structured, organized, contextual, and relevant to the workforce. 

Connect with us to see how we can supercharge your diversity, inclusion, and equity initiatives with our AI-powered coaching platform. 

By Shalini Ramakrishnan, Director of Product Marketing

Before we get into the topic, let’s look at a few statistics:

  • Diverse and inclusive corporations are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors. (McKinsey)
  • They are 70% more likely to capture new markets. (HBR)
  • Their teams are 87% better at decision-making. (People Management)
  • These teams generate 19% higher revenue. (BCG)

These numbers indicate that having a diverse and inclusive workforce is beneficial to any company. Especially where it matters, i.e., performance. These companies seem to perform better, generate higher revenue, and can understand the demands of newer markets. But the real impact runs even deeper. If one assesses the very makeup of the modern-day workforce, you’ll understand what we mean. Whichever country you’re in, there’s an increase of minorities equipped with degrees who are entering the workforce. There are more diverse workforce free of gender and race, than ever before, playing pivotal roles in their companies. But although so much progress is being made, it will take a significant amount of time to undo the practices and mindsets of old.

DE&I programs are uprooting old mindsets by removing subconscious biases while hiring, such as race or ethnicity-based biases, sexism, and other archaic prejudices. Instead, it replaces them with more useful and modern philosophies and tools, making way for a huge number of benefits. 

DE&I improves Employee Productivity and Performance

Research shows that employees are 60% as productive as they could be in their workplace. Some of the factors that contribute to this are: lack of sense of belonging, workplace stress, lack of recognition, and toxic workplace behavior. 

Studies show that work-related stress affects minorities in particular. There are many reasons for this, such as different levels of education attained and poor treatment by management. A good DE&I program would help sensitize both management and employees, and help them learn how to interact with employees in a more inclusive way. It would also help minority employees feel more comfortable in their environment and more included and accepted, leading to a boost in employee productivity by almost a 40%!

DE&I helps identify, attract and retain Top Talent

DE&I initiatives help in creating authentic connections with existing employees, who can then recommend other qualified individuals to fill vacant positions. Such recommendations help find the right fit, both in terms of skills and organizational culture. It’s also helpful in retaining employees. Employees who feel they are undervalued, treated poorly, and have fewer growth opportunities are the most likely to leave a company. In the US, numerous studies show that white males are more likely to get a promotion than their colored and/or female counterparts. Therefore, a DE&I program will help build long-lasting bonds among employees, and help management understand their needs better while aiding in breaking the glass ceiling for many.

DE&I improves and maintains better Employee Engagement

If you want your employees to be engaged, they must feel like they’re a part of the organization well and truly. Engaged employees perform better, are more likely to stay longer, and are ready to contribute to the companies they work in. Engaged employees are the backbone of a blooming company culture. Great company culture is essential in attracting the top-most talent in any industry. 

DE&I programs co-function with a robust  Peer Coaching system

The above can only be achieved if your DE&I program is combined with peer coaching. Issues about ethnicity, gender, race, religion, or any other controversial topic are extremely sensitive leaving a lot of room for misunderstandings. It’s only through peer coaching – where one establishes trust, takes time and makes effort to understand others’ dreams and challenges, and acts as a support system – that DE&I initiatives can make a real and tangible impact.

With Peer Coaching, employees assess themselves and others, which helps the company understand what measures need to be taken to elevate certain employees while creating a culture of feedback. Since it helps confront biases on a more humane level and is less mechanical than having a boss talking down to subordinates, Peer coaching is bound to bring in long-term behavioral changes. 

Another benefit of peer coaching is its model of establishing track results-based performance metrics hence giving the organizations a  realistic way to assess learner’s performance and engagement. There is also engagement analytics that can be used to track employee growth hence making it a better way to assess the results of your initiatives with tangible data. Most importantly, peer coaching builds a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion that every organization needs to evolve from simply being an office, into a second family for every employee. That’s the real impact.

If you’re ready to transform your office into a safe space for every employee by breaking through the past and empowering the future workforce, let’s connect to discuss how our AI-enabled peer coaching platform can help you!

By Madhukar Govindaraju , Founder & CEO

Having a diverse workforce is essential in today’s corporate environment. But it’s not as easy as just deciding to make inclusive hires. A Forbes study indicated that a majority of corporate diversity programs haven’t yielded desired results. Around 75% of conventional diversity and inclusion programs have been failing consistently. Thus, it’s essential one must also carefully plan and execute a good DEA program. But how? How do we fight our subconscious biases? How can we create a plan that suits everyone? 

Possibly, there are two major problems with current DEI programs.

Problem 1: They are inauthentic

An article in the Economist stated that 12 of the most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from Human Resources, and I’m here to organize a diversity workshop.”!!

Jokes aside, the statement points towards a general distrust of HR diversity initiatives. According to a study in the Harvard Business Review, companies struggle mainly with finding out what the inclusivity problems are. They found that managers are pushed by a fondness for taking action and finding solutions without understanding the actual issues. Their DEI programs are usually reactionary measures introduced after a specific incident or event. That comes across as inauthentic. 

They forget to engage their employees in effective two-way communication. They don’t take the necessary steps to educate the relevant people on measures being undertaken by the organization. To make genuine programs that will create a long-lasting impact on the learners, initiatives must center themselves around thorough research. While this may take time and resources to conduct in the short term, it will save the organization money, time, and energy in the long run. Evidence suggests that organizations constantly invest heavily in diversity training but with little results. 

Problem 2: They create a sense of inferiority

Normally, learners feel that they’re being lectured to. Studies show that ‘training’ and ‘coaching’ are terms that employees don’t like. They imply mandatory and remedial programs, which rob learners of a sense of freedom and instill a feeling of failure on some level. Instead, programs must make employees feel they are being presented an opportunity to grow with equity. Programs must focus on teaching behavioral and critical skills which will nurture inclusion and collaboration. It’s time for organizations to create a holistic approach that doesn’t make learners feel like they’re being spoken down to.

Why 75% of conventional diversity and inclusion programs have been failing consistently? 

Let’s take a look at some of the major DEI obstacles – 

Unconscious Bias

Many companies want to make DEI training voluntary exercises, and not compulsory programs. Doing so has shown improvement in employee participation in such programs. Consecutively, as per a study, there was an increase of 9 to 13% in black and Hispanic men and Asian-American men and women in top management roles. One factor to consider is that there are more benefits of such training for those who already show advanced skill competencies. Employees with low-skill competencies may feel alienated, as they may not be suitable to give training. In such a case, individuals with high competency levels will evolve into role models for other organizational members. If low-skill employees fail to evaluate competency in diversity, they will grow into accepting their errors. 

Gender Bias

A huge majority of men accept that teams with a healthy representation of women can perform better. But there is a lack of awareness amongst one-third of men. They are unresponsive to the challenges faced by women leaders. 28% don’t agree that women are more prone to difficulties when it comes to top management roles, despite having equal skills and qualifications.

Racial Biases

A surprising number of people aren’t aware that they have racial and ethnic biases. These are the people most resistant to DEI programs based on racial discrimination. There has to be a shift in this mindset, and the responsibility for such lies on leaders and managers. They must raise awareness by using psychologically protected spaces to create safe listening experiences. That will increase empathy as well. 

Manager-focused Training 

Most organizations have diversity training programs for their managers. But that’s very counterproductive. It breeds resentment and reflects poor diversity. It is important to have consistent leadership support for employing minorities. It has to be followed through with a plan to ensure inclusivity in key decision-making promotions and promotions to executive levels. 

Peer Coaching – The Magic Bullet 

The sure-shot way to overcome these two challenges in the form of peer coaching. Yes, I’d mentioned that employees don’t like the word ‘coaching’ – but ‘peer coaching’ is different. The processes themselves vary greatly, despite the two being used interchangeably. Conventional coaching creates a one-way mode of communication, from coach to learner. But peer coaching is a process where everyone involved learns and grows. It’s mutually beneficial, confidential, and structured. The process helps identify and measure skill gaps without making anyone feel uncomfortable. 

Peer coaching also helps create realistic benchmarks. Using these, one can quantify the success of each measure. Peer coaching mitigates the negative impact of learning and development programs. 

  • Using a comprehensive framework, peer coaching helps in changing behaviors through skill exchange. It can address all the DEI goals. Organizations that used peer coaching were more successful at navigating change when compared to competitors. 
  • Peer coaching helps create awareness and eliminate subconscious biases on gender. It helps create a culture of inclusion for women where they are systematically and actively included in succession plans. Peer coaching can be supplemented with women’s leadership development programs to build conviction.
  • To tackle the racial biases, the solid antiracist organizational culture and top leaders’ behavioral changes need to be guided by peer coaching. All these aspects together can help in augmenting individual attitudes and institutional policies.    
  • Peer coaching initiatives can be molded to be effective for different levels of organizational leadership. It can help leaders assess both personal biases and general biases that hinder inclusivity implementation. Inclusive work cultures empower employees with opportunities and the space to present contradicting views. They also encourage questioning deep-rooted mindsets without a threat to their sense of relevance. Peer coaching helps break hierarchical barriers. It enables teams with cultural or other generic differences to collaborate on projects that proliferate cross-cultural competence.

Robust peer coaching initiatives are effective methods for enabling diversity and inclusion. Both external and internal intervention coaching delivers forward-thinking inclusion tools that combat discriminatory behaviors. 

Download this whitepaper on ‘Why Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Should Be A Business Imperative’ – it discusses in detail the deficiency in diversity and inclusion efforts, how a shift in mindset can reshape the future of the workplace, and how comprehensive and discerning coaching programs are critical in creating a cornerstone for a collective understanding of DE&I.

By Madhukar Govindaraju , Founder & CEO

Research shows that those organizations that establish a culture of continuous learning are 46% more likely to be first to market, experience 37% higher productivity, and are 92% more likely to innovate. Given the increasing competition and rising disruption owing to technological developments as well as changes brought about by the pandemic, learning has to extend beyond technical skills and over to critical skills as well. 

For organizations to succeed and emerge from the impact of the pandemic, it is essential to create an environment that supports an open mindset, encourages an independent quest for knowledge, and helps people develop shared purpose – irrespective of whether they are working in-premise, working remotely, or using a hybrid work model. 

While organizations are supposed to provide formal learning opportunities, peer coaching. when encouraged across the organization can be immensely helpful to drive this cultural transformation where learning becomes a part of the organizational DNA. 

This is an important point of consideration mainly because culture shifts happen only when people own and drive the learning process. Peer coaching facilitates continuous learning and helps organizations boost employee engagement and experience, drive performance, reduce work-from-home burnout, and develop a healthy leadership pipeline. 

However, taking the right approach to peer coaching determines the likelihood of its success. Having a people-first and a data-driven approach are essential for this. 

‘People-first’ or fail 

Peer coaching has to be, ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people.’ 

It is perhaps the most democratized form of coaching and, hence, it experiences a high success rate. This is also because people change or become accepting towards change and growth when it is not forced, is relevant and contextual to their narrative, and is proactive. Since people are creatures of habit, change only takes place when certain actions are reaffirmed regularly. Constant reaffirmation of learnings becomes critical towards driving the behavioral changes needed to bring about a shift in actions. 

But what does a ‘people-first’ approach entail?

Different people, different needs

Not all employees are the same and neither are their coaching needs. As an organization to create a coaching culture to drive continuous learning, it is imperative to identify the exact learning needs of the people. Not all your employees need to improve their communication skills. Not all need coaching on strategic thinking. Get the drift? 

To develop a successful peer coaching program, it thus is essential to identify the different needs of the people at work and pair them with the right coaches and help them achieve their goals. Peer coaching programs have to recognize the different needs of people and capably serve only what is relevant and contextual to individual needs. A new recruit, for example, will have different coaching needs than the seasoned employee. 

Driving contextual peer coaching is important also because now we have more demographic diversity in the workforce than ever before. With Gen Z and millennials overtaking Gen X and baby boomers, accounting for their learning and development needs becomes imperative to drive employee engagement. 

Account for the manager’s ecosystem 

We were delivered to the Future of Work as the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the world. There has been immense pressure on managers to ensure their teams remain high-performing, motivated, and productive. They have had to rework their management strategies to drive remote work while ensuring that the trust barometer and the engagement index remain unaltered. 

For new managers, the challenge has been to build trust bridges without getting the opportunity to leverage everyday physical interactions. And along with this, they have to achieve and deliver everything that the seasoned manager is delivering. 

Peer coaching can address the challenges, both every day and unique, to these managers and give them the tools to lead their teams and themselves efficiently. With constant dialogue, action is more proactive than reactive, building trust bridges with teams (especially remote teams) becomes easier, and decision-making is more confident. Peer coaching also helps new managers immensely as it helps them build their network and make the right connections essential for navigating the organization.  

Diversity and inclusion 

A ‘people-first’ approach also amplifies the impact of diversity and inclusion initiatives across the organization. Today, a serious attitude towards diversity and inclusion is not just important for social value and perception, it is essential for profitability too. 

Peer coaching presents the perfect solution to assist diversity and inclusion initiatives as it helps people recognize both conscious and unconscious bias and helps them understand how their actions impact those unlike them. Since peer coaching is a continuous process, it can bring about the shift in behaviors that drive the change in actions. 

With peer coaching, those falling under the diversity and inclusion umbrella also get a fair chance to overcome their fears and perceived notions that impede success. Having a thriving peer coaching environment helps these people develop the networks and bridges they need to navigate their careers successfully without fear or judgment. 

Data-driven peer coaching – what is that?

The ‘gut feel’ and ‘intuition’ are two highly romanticized words in modern life. We hear geniuses of our generation like Einstein saying “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift”. We have Steve Jobs propounding “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition; they somehow already know what you want to become.” In this romanticizing, we tend to forget that intuition can be and is a very valuable ‘tool’. But it would be a mistake to base decisions on intuition or gut alone. 

Things are no different for peer coaching. A successful peer coaching program will be based on data and will try and leverage data wherever it can be employed for better decision-making and improved outcomes. 

But how can we apply a data-driven mindset to peer coaching?

Data to identify the coaching needs 

Identifying what needs to change comes before how it needs to change. Instead of jumping on the next coaching trend, develop the capacity to exactly identify the learning needs of the employees, especially for critical skills like strategic thinking, leadership, communication, etc. 

A people-first approach has to thus be complemented with a data-driven approach to drive contextual and relevant peer coaching programs. Data-backed assessments like Behavioral Assessment tests or 16-Personality Factor Assessments provide accurate insights on the exact learning needs of the employees. This data-backed approach thereby contributes towards creating relevant, contextual, and consequently, successful coaching programs. 

Tracking program impact 

You can only manage what you can measure. Coaching initiatives are no different. 

How can organizations understand the impact of their coaching programs and understand their effectiveness if they do not have access to granular data on the same? How can they assess if their initiatives are bringing about the shift in behaviors that they want? How can they identify if the organizational skill sets have expanded as desired? 

The answer to these and other such associated questions lies in data. Thus, it becomes essential to have the right tracking mechanisms in place. Using an AI-enabled coaching platform, organizations can capture feedback, track the impact of the peer coaching program by measuring the change brought about in organizational skill sets, and improve program structures when needed. 

Data to drive organizational resilience  

A data-driven peer coaching program becomes the enabler of continuous learning in an organization. Using data and technologies such as AI, a peer coaching platform can help people remain on the path of continuous learning. 

AI-powered nudges delivered at the right time can help people proactively identify their learning needs and keep them on the path of continuous learning. This approach also builds organizational resilience as when learning becomes proactive and continuous, people are more prepared to handle and manage change and disruption. All of this contributes towards employee resilience which contributes towards organizational resilience. 

While culture change starts at the top, you know your organization has made a successful transition towards the culture of continuous learning when employees drive their independent quests for knowledge. This will only happen when organizations make it easier for people to connect with the right resources who can help them without judgment, and help them eliminate their reservations against feedback, and provide growth opportunities. Having a thriving peer coaching network within the organization makes this a reality. 

Connect with us to know how NumlyEngage™ can help your organization develop a culture of continuous learning and drive organizational resilience by taking the people-first and data-driven approach. 

By Varnika Garg, Associate Product Manager

“Inclusion is the celebration of diversity put into action.”

The future of work is here! The unprecedented forces of the pandemic have disrupted and reshaped the way organizations and teams work today. While remote teams have become the new normal; it also means recognizing the need for changing organizational policies and paying attention to crucial issues. One of the biggest challenges faced by organizations, made even more stark by the pandemic, is the need for Diversity and Inclusivity.

The benefits of a diverse, equal and an inclusive work environment are numerous, and these diversity in the workplace statistics can prove it.

  • More than 50% of current employees want their workplace to do more to increase diversity (Glassdoor)
  • 69% of executives believe that diversity and inclusion are the most critical issues (Deloitte)
  • Companies with higher-than-average diversity had 19% higher innovation revenues (Harvard Business Review)

Claudia Brind-Woody, VP and MD at IBM said,  “Inclusivity means not ‘just we’re allowed to be there,’ but we are valued. I’ve always said: smart teams will do amazing things, but truly diverse teams will do impossible things.”

Evidently, workplace diversity is one of the most crucial elements today. D&I initiatives make workplaces more successful and smarter, promote better employee wellbeing, and lead to increased job satisfaction and employee engagement levels.

How to Cultivate Diversity and Inclusivity 

The next biggest question for every organization is to identify where they are on their diversity efforts and how to cultivate a diverse and inclusive environment. 

If you are ready to assess your D&I efforts, the most effective tool would be to run a “Organizational Assessment” or what we, at Numly, refer to as a mechanism to understand and bridge the gap between your current state and goals, and how to approach it.

Taking an assessment is a critical step to long-term success, as it provides a data-driven understanding of your current state around diversity and inclusion to guide strategic decisions around resourcing and action planning.

How Numly Helps You

Numly offers the opportunity to provide a Talent Insight Report for your organization, It enables you to understand and measure your employees’ skills gaps and get a personalized diversity solution for your organization.

The report provides an insight not only on diversity skill gaps within the organization, but also a detailed analysis and a plan of action to start with.

What You Need To Do

  1. The first step is to identify your goals towards a diverse workplace and clearly define what diversity, inclusion, and equity would mean to your organization.
  2. Take the simple Organizational Assessment to understand diversity skills gaps, followed by a strategic plan and analysis catered specifically to your enterprise. 
  3. Undertake a DE&I Peer Coaching program designed to help grow leaders who can implement collaboration and empowerment within diverse teams and nurture a working environment that treats people fairly and equitably. 

Want to reinvent your D&I initiatives? Contact us for a Product Overview or Book a quick demo with us.

By Madhukar Govindaraju , Founder & CEO

Diversity has been a hot topic over the past years in the enterprise community. A diverse workplace, now, is not a fleeting trend but a key to get higher revenues, capture new markets, and drive meaningful innovation. However, diversity is more than just a buzzword. It is meant to motivate corporations to provide an equitable and inclusive environment to their employees. It is a strategic initiative that has to tackle the systemic barriers and microaggressions that disenfranchise certain groups that hope to create a more equitable workplace. 

Organizations now know that diversity training is essential since:

  • The Millennials and Gen Z, the dominant workforce in the enterprise, are the most diverse generation in history 
  • 67% of job seekers consider diversity an important factor while considering employment opportunities 
  • Organizations with a diverse workforce are more likely to have financial returns above national industry medians 
  • Organizations with ethnically and culturally diverse boards are 43% more likely to show higher profits 

The Diversity Conundrum – Diversity Training Doesn’t Work 

While diversity training is essential to help individuals recognize unfair treatment in the workplace, most organizations hold an annual diversity training session that merely pays lip-service to equality, inclusion, and diversity. This traditional model of diversity training does not contribute towards an equitable workplace and can often be disappointing and even counter-productive. 

This is primarily because of two reasons. Firstly, most diversity training programs are focused on creating awareness about hidden prejudices and biases, usually towards women and ethnic minorities. However, raising awareness alone does not change people’s behavior. 

Secondly, unconscious bias becomes hard to address with a day-long session. It is almost impossible to retrain the brain not to fall prey to prejudices that have been socially reinforced throughout our lives. 

That most diversity programs don’t increase diversity is quite clear. You just have to look at diversity statistics for that. But why are diversity training programs failing? It is because, for diversity to work, it needs behavioral change. 

Change Ahead – Diversity Coaching Leads the Way 

Diversity initiatives need behavioral change 

Most diversity training programs assume that people act offensively because they know no better. While this is largely true, unlearning deeply ingrained behavioral patterns is difficult. As such, organizations have to create an environment that has a shared understanding of why certain things are offensive, and secondly, and more importantly, builds a shared understanding of which behaviors and comments fall outside the purview of acceptance. 

Providing clarity on unacceptable verbiage and penalties for transgressions is important. But it is more important to coach people to build empathy and sensitivity to new concepts of identity, fairness, responsibility, and intent. 

Creating such a work environment demands a shift in views and mindsets and can only be achieved through continuous learning. Coaching thus becomes the perfect pair for driving diversity in the organization to make sure behavioral change supports diversity in the workplace. 

Create an understanding of diversity 

Diversity training is supposed to address how different people are represented across the organization. Simply asking people to ‘tolerate differences’ does not fit today’s workplace, one that is defined by the global scope and lightning-fast communication. 

Given the complex narrative, organizations have to now focus on helping the entire workforce understand how a diversity of thought and different approaches bring in new ideas and perspectives. At the same time, they need to help employees understand that they need to embrace diversity and not merely ‘tolerate’ it. 

Diversity coaching helps organizations distill the concept of diversity into the employees such that it becomes a learned behavior. It helps everyone across the board understand that everyone across the organization is working towards a common goal and creates a common bond. Diversity coaching helps people understand that all employees are like soldiers charging up a hill – unless everyone moves forward together, the initiative fails

Battle the impact of learned behaviors

Organizations also should lean towards diversity coaching to create better-learned behaviors while unlearning older behaviors that do not support diversity and progressive thinking. 

A good example of learned behavior would be this statistic – “Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them.” Women often tend to do so as they don’t view the hiring process as one where “…advocacy, relationships, or a creative approach to framing one’s expertise could overcome not having the skills and experiences outlined in the job qualifications.”  

Acting on these beliefs leads women to leave opportunities on the table. They also often tend to build small deltas in their professional and personal growth by limiting career options. 

Coaching helps bring a step-change in these beliefs that people live by and helps them realize their true potential. It gives them the tools, support, guidance, and network needed to succeed and helps organizations integrate diversity strategies, associated policies, and expected behaviors to align with the organizational goals. All these activities collectively impact the diversity matrix positively. 

Address the key diversity dimensions

Diversity is not unidimensional. It has multiple key dimensions and can be successfully implemented only when all these dimensions are covered to develop a path that ensures an improved arc of change. Achieving this through superficial, day-long training is an overarching, if not an unrealistic, goal. 

Organizations thus need to first identify all the key dimensions that play into diversity. For example, in addition to the hiring process, organizations need to assess the other areas that impact diversity – how are promotions conducted? Are all women employees getting the right kind of leadership coaching? How is the representation in the high-potential candidate pipeline and the leadership pipeline? How well are learning needs being met to create a pipeline of leaders who have the right technical and critical skills? Are we creating powerful networks that enable people to foster their growth path?

Identifying all dimensions that control diversity, all the traits that impact diversity, and all the behaviors that drive diversity have to factor in to make diversity programs successful. Organizations thus have to become more intentional in designing their diversity coaching programs. These programs should be data-driven, should connect the right coach to the right learner, and identify the right needs of individuals to create tailored programs that are measurable and impactful.

Connect with us to see how our AI-powered coaching platform can power your diversity programs. After all, many have a vision of what diversity programs should look like. But the difference between vision and hallucination is implementation.