LEWAS Impact

The 1-7 Approach

To Successful Diversity Initiatives

By Denise Mannix, President, Lean In Network Energy;

Founder and CEO, Equity In Leadership

In discussing diversity and diversity initiatives, I’d like to start with two energy-specific references – fuel additives and additive manufacturing.

How can these two seemingly unrelated topics be discussed in the same breath as diversity, I hear you ask? They can be!
For fuel additives in O&G we voraciously digest information about them as performance enhancers, capability improvers, and efficiency maximizers. With the adoption of additive manufacturing in O&G’s complex machinery evolution, we bemoan its slow uptake.

So, how do these two examples reference diversity? Easily! Diversity benefits are often illustrated with the same descriptors as fuel additives, and the diversity road has been as agonizingly slow-going as that of additive manufacturing. Let’s be clear.

Diversity is the much-needed additive to the people component of the complex performance and productivity machine that is an organization. Diversity,
like a fuel additive is an acknowledged performance enhancer, capability improver, and efficiency maximizer, and like additive manufacturing it creates innovation and disruption, with the ability to drive organizational value.
The question remains (and many of us have repeatedly asked) with the enhancing, improving and maximizing contributors of diversity, why is the uptake of the “technology of diversity” so slow? See the relevance of the comparisons?

One study published over 15 years ago, has relevance today for organizations when influencing for efficacy, strategy setting, decision-making, and establishing measures. The study examined the effects of seven typical diversity programs (including the often-unpopular affirmative action plans which assign responsibility for compliance). My summary of this:
This study pointed out several relevant and associated strategy and tactical design precepts based on organizational psychology:
Executives must appoint specialists with authority to achieve specialized goals
Initiatives disassociated from everyday practice have no effect
Focusing on individual responsibility is less effective than establishing responsible parties
Selecting special staff members and committees to reconsider recruitment, succession planning, and promotion structures is more efficacious than manager training in bias
Understanding that networking and mentoring programs offer a collective solution but are merely a “fix” for individual employees
This 1-7 approach then, offers a reference of methodology against current diversity investment. Studies such as those referred to here also suggest that a better understanding of cognitive dissonance; participation by invitation; business practices to generate contact between and across groups; and, use of social accountability practices, would assist to redress the lack of efficacy in standard diversity initiatives and develop preferred diverse organizational cultures while increasing diversity velocity and traction.”

It should be clear there is no quick-fix program or policy, mandated or off-the-shelf. Diversity is a sophisticated beast that many are realizing is not and cannot be a check-the-box facility without the regard of intent or with less sophistication than the issue itself. The call is to boards, executives and HRD to be more strategic and self-conscious in their respective responsibility to diversity, bringing to their organizations the benefits of this critical additive and ensuring its speed to adoption!
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