When it comes to those who lead people in organizations today, there are three words on everyone’s lips now: diversity, equity and inclusion (or DEI). They are asking: how can we build a more DEI-focused workplace? And more specifically, they’re seeking the right strategies and tools to undertake that work effectively.
It’s a big shift. But recognize that this is a multi-dimensional problem. It’s not solved with a singular solution. Building and maintaining a sustainable environment where diversity, equity and inclusiveness can thrive is a process: one that requires a carefully considered approach and steady attention to detail.
While this is must-do work, there are risks to consider. For instance, new rules from the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) took effect in late 2020, requiring American publicly traded companies to provide a description of their human capital resources to the extent that such disclosures would be material to an understanding of the company’s business, and value. While the amendments don’t specifically address DEI, it’s creating a climate where those disclosures may be expected.
There also significant benefits to be gained by succeeding in this area: DEI-focused workplaces will be the ones that retain top talent and reap the benefits of having a diverse workforce in the years ahead.
So how do we get there?
Trust is the Connective Tissue
Culture is defined by having a shared set of beliefs, values or goals. Changing a workplace culture—as is the ambition of a DEI agenda—first requires a binding agent that connects all people together. That’s where trust comes in.
Trust begins as a feeling and it’s nurtured as a skill. Its presence and health within a workplace are the determining factors on whether change can happen within a culture. Trust creates an environment where people feel safe to express their needs, to voice their concerns and speak truth to power.
With these points in mind, recognize that HR leaders today—especially those who are eager to embrace DEI—must first deal with an unprecedented complication due to the global pandemic. People in workplaces everywhere have suffered from a deep loss of meaningful daily connection with others. Presence is everything. And there is nothing more powerful than the acknowledgment of its loss. This means that trust—when you need it most—is now at a point where it is harder than ever to earn, foster and grow.
Building trust and DEI today
Given the challenges at hand, building trust and DEI are going to be difficult but necessary tasks. That’s why it’s essential that HR leaders be bold with trust. To achieve diversity, equity and inclusion, they must make it their mission to create a high-trust culture.
They must be proactive and flexible. Those who do not—or who do not make DEI infused with trust building a priority—run the risk of creating a workplace culture tainted by exclusivity. That will be one that leaves people on the sidelines and risks leading to diminished status in the marketplace. When trust is low, toxic cultures
flourish and organizations predictably experience low engagement, high unwanted turnover, lower performance, less inclusion and equity, a drop in collaboration, and a boost to workplace silos, gossip and other counterproductive behaviors.
HR leaders who want to excel at DEI, must first become trustworthy leaders. Only then can their DEI efforts be sustainable, scalable and infused with change-focused behavior. Leaders need tools to achieve that tall order. That’s where Reina Trust Building Consultants is an essential part of the solution.
Build with trust, build with Reina
Our research and practice shows that trust is inherently reciprocal, built incrementally over time. Trust-building doesn’t start collectively: it begins with one person: you. That means you must be willing to give trust to get trust. Thus, building trust is a perpetual journey. You raise awareness and make intentional choices for how you’ll bring yourself to others.
Here’s how you get started properly on that journey: by engaging a carefully constructed trust model, offered only by Reina Trust Building. We call this model the Reina Dimensions of Trust. Working from carefully collected data within your workplace, it pinpoints the precondition for a trust-based environment, which we call The Three Cs®:
• Trust of Character—doing what you say you will do. It is what people count on in their leaders;
• Trust of Communication—be open, honest and transparent; and
• Trust of Capability—recognize and apply the knowledge and skills of others and be inclusive of their points of view.
With Reina you measure what’s important as you change. We showcase the full range of behaviors that build trust: a total of sixteen we’ve uncovered in our 30 years of research on the subject. With this framework in place, we turn theory into actions that help you grow as a leader and help teams thrive. Working with the Three Dimensions of Trust, leaders and team members are able to meet that core human need for meaningful connections. It produces insights and modelling behaviors that apply across cultures to achieve high performance, deeper DEI and drive business results.
Get ready to embrace your DEI agenda in 2021. And recognize that as you do this, it’s essential to make sure you have in place the right tools—ones that are evidence-based and a product of decades of research. This is how you will make change that lasts.