Aiming at good or best practices?

In the male-dominated world, everybody wants to be a leader in their industry, country or discipline. And as D&I is increasingly aligned to strategic priorities, the leadership ambition gets more and more frequently included in Diversity storylines. At the same time, budget restrictions have led to minimised staff in D&I departments and increased voluntary engagement in grass-root initiatives. Considering these competing trends, it is necessary to ask – and challenge – if companies are aiming at deploying cutting-edge programmes (at cost) or if they will be satisfied with some solid initiatives. Given the high expectations about the benefits D&I is supposed to deliver and the progress management expects on Diversity demographics, it should be intuitively clear that off-the-shelf programmes implemented with low-to-no-budgets will certainly not deliver against these objectives.

But are we always clear (enough) on this point? The learning from the past 15 years should be evident: Singular, insular or popular initiatives are always nice, often colourful and cool to communicate, at best. They do not have an impact on the complex organisational system that we need to change. This assessment includes the would-be miraculous interventions at management teams that some experts promise. And it includes the massive marketing that some organisations do for ‘their case’ to be more business related than others. On those points, I feel that some of the shared commitment got lost along the way of branching out on Diversity to a much wider group of stakeholders and newly appointed experts. In this new context, our search for good or best practices has become extremely difficult as the rules have changed. At first, it was best practice to do something that worked – and we have 100 examples for that. Then, it became best practice to do what everybody did, but slightly different or marketed

more effectively. Today, a good practice requires to de sign something that is effective and successful in

a particular organisation. This of course is bad for the copy-and-paste approach that was fashionable for a while. And it requires a more holistic approach to analysing the existing situation, past learning, relevant dynamics and the stakeholders (potentially) involved. Or in other words: It requires what we always felt made our jobs so interesting and rewarding…