Much of the focus of diversity and inclusion in the workplace is on encouraging people to be their authentic selves, knowing that they will be accepted, respected, and valued. Understanding this will orient us on what works and what does not work in terms of strategies adopted for improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
Authenticity is fundamentally about being actually and exactly what is claimed. Trust is implicit within authenticity. Top diversity and inclusion consulting firms understand the importance of demonstrating authenticity in the organization’s approach to diversity and inclusion in the workplace as an enabler to people themselves achieving freedom in this regard. If senior management and executives are not authentic in their intent and reasons for addressing diversity and inclusion, this will quickly become apparent and every attempt to make progress is doomed to fail.
It is, therefore, essential that senior management and executives undergo extensive diversity and inclusion training before any strategic evaluation is done. This is to enable choices and decisions on action plans and projects with the right degree of clarity and insight. These key leaders need to have developed the right maturity to deal reflectively with the results of diversity and inclusion assessments and feedback on the status quo. Negative results and difficult-to-digest realities cannot be discounted or be responded to defensively. We use diversity and inclusion consulting to bring us the truth on organizational health in these areas and to hold up a mirror to enable change and transformation.
As with any serious problem, acknowledgment of the positives and negatives in the situation is critical as a stepping stone to moving forward. Authentic people accept their faults and take responsibility for what has transpired without undue blame and recrimination. As a starting point, senior management and leaders within organizations will have to be very transparent in this regard at the inception of new or changing diversity and inclusion strategies. In engagement with the workforce, they will need to be comfortable sharing their human vulnerabilities and anticipated challenges as they attempt to grow and learn. This will inspire others to open up to be genuine and factual and place greater faith in leadership integrity.
Diversity and inclusion in the workplace will only achieve progress when people begin to rely on what leadership says and does. Authentic people do not pretend that everything will be okay or solved overnight. The risks of making promises that we cannot keep are avoided with increased levels of realism. The more transparent and honest leadership is about difficulties, the greater will be the perception of integrity, which is of paramount importance in people getting behind leaders as they attempt to establish commitment to diversity and inclusion principles, inclusion principles policies, procedures, programs, and initiatives.
The other aspect that will become clear during diversity and inclusion training is the need for everyone to be generous. This is a hallmark of authentic leadership and work environments. This generosity involves a high amount of sharing as authentic people do not need to withhold knowledge, resources, or access to power. Especially leadership understands the advantages of letting reliable people do what they do best as partners in creating a brighter future and better-performing workplace. Being outshone or taking credit for success is never a consideration, allowing for collaboration and participation to flourish. Any glory can be celebrated as joint accomplishments, as this reflects the confidence and security of authentic people in themselves.
As organizations and their leaders focus on creating authenticity in everything they say and do, this will begin to unfold in the workplace culture and climate as sustainable positive acceptance of everyone’s uniqueness and worth. It is not so much a case of striving to have complete harmony or getting everyone to like everyone else. This is not the goal of authentic people. The underlying motivation is being truthful and trusting that truly delivers what is right and good.