In a recent article published by NPR online, they discuss the U.S. oil industries failure in the efforts of Diversity and Inclusion and their intentions to rectify the situation. Jeff Brady writes “…the oil industry wants to attract a new, more diverse generation of workers, but a history of racism and sexism make that difficult.” Read more at http://www.npr.org/2017/11/05/553969144/big-oil-has-a-diversity-problem.
I’m excited to see the oil industry recognizes the need for diversity and inclusion in their organizations. However, I am concerned they may make the same mistakes many organizations have done and that is building the foundation of their D&I program on rocky ground. There is a tendency in organizations to address diversity and inclusion in the industry by:
- Hiring a Chief of Diversity.
- Bringing people on staff from different backgrounds.
- Forcing the faculty and staff to follow “Best Practices of Diversity and Inclusion.”
Make no doubt about it, these steps will indeed open the oil industry up to the idea of Diversity and Inclusion and definitely give the appearance of D&I. Building a D&I environment is much more complicated than the above three steps. Building this environment is not an operational change for an organization it’s a change of mindset within the organization. A change of mindset is a very complicated, very delicate change to make within any organization. When this change is not handled appropriately the rocky ground, mentioned above, becomes evident.
Building a foundation on rocky ground does not mean the organization took the wrong steps or the elements of the foundation are not necessary. When a foundation is formed on rocky ground it is not smooth. There is room for cracks to develop, air pockets, and holes. Therefore, the foundation needs constant maintenance and repair. Many diversity leaders in organizations would say that receiving the needed support for their diversity programs is similar to building a new building during a recession. Their organization likes the idea of being an organization that embraces diversity and inclusion but it’s not prepared to make the commitment needed to build a diversified and inclusive environment. Therefore, the D&I environment of an organization usually looks like an abandoned worksite. They have the foundation and everything going but realize there are holes, and lack of support preventing them from continuing.
As a certified human behavioral consultant, life and executive coach and an expert in the diversity and inclusion field, I would encourage my clients to begin building this environment by first having a deeper understanding of diversity and inclusion. According to this NPR article, the oil industry does not truly have a grasp on the concept of Diversity and Inclusion. Here is why, to begin with, the article implies the oil industry is only focusing on sexism and racism “African-Americans” in the workplace. The first indication of the lack of understanding of D&I is the fact they are focusing on the “African-American” population rather than all people of color, the article reads as if they are excluding Hispanic, Asian and other ethnicities. A D&I environment is an environment in which talents and gifts of qualified individuals can be utilized regardless of their differences. A true D&I environment does not have space for racism or sexism, nor does it have room for ableism and homophobia. Which they are not taking into account, according to this article. Diversity is the understanding that everyone has valuable differences, inclusion is cashing in on those valuable differences.
Once my clients come to a true understanding of diversity and inclusion, we would begin to put together an Unconfined Team. Most companies put together what they call ERGs (Employment Resource Groups). This is not at all what I am referring to. I am referring to a group of 4 leaders in the organization that collectively produce a high Emotional Intelligent D&I Council within the organization. This Unconfined Team is composed of the following:
- Somebody who will take the wheel and drive the team forward. They are courageous; however, their emotional intelligence makes them aware that other people are on board so they should not be reckless.
- An individual that will keep everyone motivated and excited about the changes; however because of their emotional intelligence they can walk the fine line between being an optimist and being unrealistic.
- A person to keep the team on course; their emotional intelligence is too high for them to become inflexible yet they are single-minded.
- Someone who will analyze the process; a person who is logical but has the emotional intelligence not to become critical.
Identifying the leaders of the team is done through an assessment administered by Unconfined Life Institute. The results enable the participant to become conscious of their strengths, challenges, and uniqueness. Being conscious of one’s strengths, challenges and uniqueness is the core of Emotional Intelligence. The participants will immediately see how they are equipped to be an important member of the unconfined team. The EI booster one-day seminar helps the participants embrace their uniqueness, understand their challenges and fine-tune their strengths. Also, it assists the organization in pinpointing their leaders for the unconfined team. After taking the assessment and participating in the one-day seminar, the team has the collective Emotional Intelligence to focus on the building blocks of Diversity and Inclusion. These building blocks are:
- Understanding – the ability to comprehend someone’s circumstances or position.
- Awareness – the knowledge or perception of a situation or fact.
- Adapting and Connecting – to adapt is to make something or bring it to a level suitable for a new use or purpose. To connect is to bring together so that a real link is established.
- Valuing – consider someone or a group of people to be important or beneficial; or have a high opinion and regard for them.
- Leveraging – help someone to reach maximum potential for the benefit of the whole team.
This group is the core of the D&I foundation and it consists of a minimum of 4 members.
Next, we have to define the organization’s Diversity Vision. This is a model of what diversity looks like for that particular organization. The diversity vision is that of what the unconfined team hopes to achieve within the organization. It is a short description of the image the organization hopes to display. For example, vision: ‘Utilizing the unique gifts of every employee. ‘ This vision is what the organization and team are dedicated to working towards.
After defining the vision we move towards establishing a Mission of Inclusion. This is the blueprint of a D&I environment. A mission of inclusion is a description of how an organization plans to achieve the vision. What new policies will the organization put into place? What ‘Best Practices’ is the organization going to focus on? What changes will the organization make? What needs to be done and how is it going to be done?
Finally, set D&I Core Values. This is the type of material an organization pulls together to build a strong foundation. Some buildings are supported with cement beams while aluminum beams support others. The decision is made on how strong an organization wants the foundation to be. D&I core values is what the organization stands for when it comes to diversity and inclusion. What an organization believes and why does it believe it. How are these things important to the organization? At the end of the day when it comes to diversity and inclusion what does the organization stand for and what will it not stand for?
Building a D&I environment is a six-month to two-year process depending if an organization is building from scratch or rebuilding. My team and Unconfined Life Institute has the knowledge and skill set to aide an organization in any and every step of the way. After the unconfined team is formed, and the mission, vision and core values are set, it’s time to pass the torch to leaders in other departments, work sites, and headquarters. These leaders are trained to be unconfined leaders who oversee the ERG’s.
The above process is based on the upcoming book, “D+I=EI(Relational DNA)”. Be looking for it at Barnes and Nobles and Amazon, winter of 2018. Please feel free to contact me by phone or email if you would like to know more. Christopher@christophercoleman.net or 770.294.0860.