With all the racial and social unrest the country has experienced over the last several years, the concepts of diversity and inclusion have made their way into every conference room meeting, Zoom call, and agenda. Unfortunately, there’s been a lot of baggage and politics attached to these terms, diminishing their meaning and utility. Once we remove this tattered layer of misunderstanding, we’ll see these words for what they really are — core values and virtues.
For organizations hoping to effect a change in organizational culture and employee well-being, investing in diversity and inclusion promises that plus a golden key to progress, financial success, innovation and longevity. And the best way to connect the dots of the abstract concepts of diversity and inclusion and the reality of success is to integrate leadership coaching with the resources of a top-tier employee assistance program (EAP). This approach inspires professional development for leaders and meaningful change throughout the organization.
The Purpose of DEI
Just because diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) fill every news and social media feed doesn’t mean we should view them as buzzwords, fads or trends. These values and virtues shouldn't be dismissed as being “politically correct” or reduced to a box to check. On the contrary, these concepts will define a new era in business and society as a whole.
A talented coach will help organizations transform their diversity and inclusion aspirations into a renewed and reinvigorated workplace culture, inspiring innovation, elevating the client experience, and creating a better business model.
A highly experienced coach will also be the determining factor as to whether an organization's culture develops, deepens and strengthens, or if it follows the heavily beaten path of cookie-cutter misguided initiatives, which is why far too many diversity initiatives never launch or fail altogether.
How does the EAP fit in? As leaders grow in empathy, vulnerability and authenticity, they are more likely (or able) to support employees in using EAP resources for their well-being. Right away, EAP utilization goes up. As managers become aware of growth edges, they’re more likely to use EAP services and become well-being models in the workforce.
Use of EAP service is thus de-stigmatized. The EAP magnifies the effect of coaching by providing tailored communications and messaging to highlight the diversity of counselors and range of services for employees. The organization is seen in new, favorable light. Coaching plus EAP equals employee engagement and positive organizational change.
Let’s break this down into the coaching and EAP roles. When you invest in diversity and inclusion coaching integrated with the EAP, you move toward reaping tremendous benefits in three vital areas:
Innovation and perspective. When a workforce represents the multitude of races, ethnicities, gender identities/expressions, backgrounds and experiences, it will automatically be armed with perspectives and ideas that spark innovation. Leader coaching provides competencies that allow managers to encourage and connect with those perspectives. EAP services are provided by diverse professionals in multiple formats to suit employees’ needs. Managers refer to the EAP to assist with performance issues and employees self-refer to foster their own well-being.
A larger talent pool. The talent pool is global, so prioritizing diversity delivers a great advantage. Adopting a global mentality, which is diverse and inclusive, focuses on skill set and talent and not adherence to antiquated concepts of “fitting the mold” or “company fit.” Leader coaching can help surface biases that limit spotting and attracting new talent. EAP consultants help managers communicate clearly and effectively with diverse employees about performance and other workplace opportunities and challenges.
Morale and well-being. Employees who feel included, valued, and comfortable are more engaged in their work, contribute more, and provide an overall better and more productive work environment. Managers who gain skills in empathy, compassion and vulnerability through coaching drive inclusion and belonging for employees. A top-tier EAP provides access to services that foster employee resilience and healing and training that supports personal and professional growth.
In the book, “The Truth About Employee Engagement,” Patrick Lencioni boils employee happiness down to wanting these three principles: You want to feel like who you are matters, what you do matters, and that you’re making progress. And when you include being sincerely inclusive, you lift the existential burden and weight of racial, gender-based, and many other forms of discrimination and bias that many of our family, friends, coworkers, and employees face daily.
The added bonus is the better bottom line for business. Based on a McKinsey study:
- Gender-diverse executives were 15% more likely to generate above-average profitability.
- A racially and ethnically diverse staff has a 35% performance advantage over those who don’t.
- Diverse companies attain 19% higher revenue.
In addition to the benefits that diversity and inclusion have on workplace culture, they’ve also become the defining factors in creating the entire workforce. The multicultural and younger population would prefer doing business with companies that celebrate diversity and inclusion and have values that align with theirs.
With so many options in employment, everyone is fighting for access to the best and brightest in the talent pool, and the younger, increasingly culturally diverse generation prefers inclusive environments. They no longer drudge miserably with companies for years at a time; if they don’t feel valued and have a sense of belonging, they leave quickly.
The concepts of diversity and inclusion aren’t anything new or different or an exclusive benefit; they are universally good. We don’t need to debate this topic any longer. The marketplace, society, and the world have made it quite clear.
So, if you’re experiencing diversity and inclusion missteps, misunderstandings, or problems, or if you’re ready to open the door to this opportunity, a highly-skilled, experienced, and insightful coach blended with a top-tier EAP is just the solution your organization needs.
About the Author
Dr. Kiki Ramsey is the founder and CEO of the Positive Psychology Coaching and Diversity Institute.