What's Your Change Agenda?

 

The time is here! EVERYONE is ready to make progress on equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-racism. Different than in the past, leaders are ready to move beyond a one-off training or charge a diversity committee with doing the heavy lifting alone. Most of what we’re hearing are requests for 1) EDIAR Strategy, 2) strategic planning that integrates EDIAR throughout the organization’s core business operations, and 3) enterprise-wide competence development for leaders and managers on what EDIAR means for them, their practices, and their accountability for advancing the organization’s values and goals.  

For those who are interested in strategy, we often work with clients on the importance of not jumping too quickly into implementation. A lot of well-intended leaders and managers want to quickly solve problems that have either been pervasive or are the focus of recent attention. Most tempting are those nagging itches that we have never been able to scratch--like recruitment. As tempting as it is to act, being careful to set an intentional path toward the future–not just away from the things that most bothers us about the past–is essential for effective strategy. 

To help focus clients on longer-term aspirations, we collaboratively develop a “change agenda”. That’s the part of the process between assessment and before solidifying a comprehensive strategy for the organization. A change agenda is a simple framework that clearly articulates what the organization is going “from,” related to past or even current practices, and where they are going “to,” the desired new state or future. 

The first step is understanding current reality for your organization. What are your current norms, practices, and processes? What do you believe to be true about yourself? How do others view and experience you? To what extent are your current practices aligned with our organization’s espoused values and goals? 

Then, putting aside current reality and all of the details that tempt action-oriented leaders to “just start fixing stuff,” turn your attention to vision. Where do we want to go? How can, and should, your organization’s inclusive values show up in action? Instead of focusing only on what’s wrong, broken, or what hasn’t worked in the past, create a compelling picture of what it will look like when it’s happening well. What will be the new behaviors and practices? Who will be the beneficiaries and how? Why is your articulated future state essential for your organization’s future? By articulating a compelling, concrete vision, you establish a guidepost to the future. 

A change agenda clearly defines the space in between current reality and vision.
The steps from one state to the other is strategy.

As an example, we’ve created a change agenda that represents some of the major shifts associated FROM traditional ways of approaching diversity and inclusion (D&I) in organizations TO more contemporary practices associated with equity, diversity, inclusion, anti-racism (and/or anti-oppression and belonging). Here's an example: 

FROM
Traditional approach to diversity and inclusion

TO 
Contemporary best practices related to equity, diversity, inclusion and anti-racism

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) 

Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Anti-Racism (EDIAR)
(and/or Anti-Oppression and/or Belonging)

Awareness building 

Behavioral proficiency at all levels and in all roles is developed and expected 

Recruitment focused 

Process and systems focused 

Sits solely within Human Resources

Is embedded across all business, operational and HR systems

Human Resource Officers and Diversity Officers encourage managers to meet numeric targets

Executives and managers own and drive goals with expert guidance from HR and Diversity Officers

Programming-focused and based on holidays/months, etc. 

Behavioral expectations and structural redesign across all business practices and processes 

Focused on individual feelings and experiences 

Focused on repeatable, structured tools, practices and accountability

One-off 

Scalable 

Episodic/ reactionary 

Ongoing/sustainable 

If and when asked, are able to point to a D&I statement 

Proactive description of how EDIAR is an organizational differentiator 

Spotlight exceptional effort that advances D&I goals 

Measurable outcomes are expected of everyone and rewarded

Committees and unpaid groups lead D&I efforts 

EDIAR is resourced, tied to core business functions 

 
Don’t worry, if you’re still in the process of moving FROM...that’s the journey we are all on together. We would love to help you with that journey, of course. The Inclusive Manager’s Toolkit is a super powerful first step for those who are in leadership or managerial positions and want to get a solid foundation of contemporary language, expectation, and practical tools for bringing EDIAR to your organization.
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