The job of a D&I manager often involves a miracle agenda: Make progress, deliver benefits, include everyone and manage complex stakeholders. Hence, they need a variety of skills and deep knowledge in many areas. Where do they acquire and develop these?
When you are in charge of driving D&I in your organisation, you quickly realise that you need specific skills and knowledge to excel in that job. And you might ask yourself, where you can get specific, quality training to upgrade your insights and competences, ideally from an evidence-based source, yet practical and applicable to many audiences. The Diversity Charter Organisations in Croatia and Slovenia had created an innovative format where D&I practitioners could learn concrete models and critical success factors to advance (in) their jobs. They selected the International D&I specialists from European Diversity Research & Consulting to provide and deliver the content.
A process learning approach where every participant can develop
While the open seminars covered the three fundamental questions of D&I: What – Why – How, the innovativeness of the approach was created on the content and on the methodological levels:
- Creating an understanding for the key paradigms in D&I was done in an evidence-based way and included the systematic value-chain model for D&I, called the Propelling Performance principle
- Training D&I managers how to set up their tailored business cases covered three elements in a differentiated way to make sure they get beyond the simplistic quoting of random studies and obtain buy-in on the ‘why’ from their key stakeholders
- A learning process with preparatory work, including both personal and organisational reflections, made sure participants arrived with thoughts and questions, and hence were able to quickly tie the training content to their own situation
The complexity of strategic D&I implementation relative to blue-prints
A number of networks and platforms offer abundant information on how organisations approach the implementation of D&I. In addition, the natural gravity of practitioners to talk to others in the same position makes it even easier to access good practice and also some learning. Transferring external input to your organisation, considering your own priorities, can be a good start for D&I. However, most organisations come to the point where they realise that their initiatives do not generate the traction they had hoped, that communication does not reach the audiences in the desired way or that the road-maps are not unfolding but dying. The seminars in Ljubljana and Zagreb therefore presented three different strategic models that enable D&I managers to create tailored strategies for their own organisation that will make sure that key areas are covered in a comprehensive way and hence relevance and traction can be secured:
- Foundational elements for a D&I strategy related to the analysis of external drivers and internal pain-points as well as related metrics to measure progress
- Dedicated and embedded approaches to build upon existing D&I elements within processes (things that are already done well) or top down and bottom up initiatives that will help instigate change
- Holistic models how to orchestrate cultural change – the more difficult element of the D&I agenda – by considering invisible rules and inter-dependencies with leadership behaviour and corporate mechanisms that may be helping or hindering further development
As the seminar was also connected to the activities of the European Commission in the field of Diversity Management, their implementation checklist was also introduced. It had resulted from an EU-funded project to support voluntary initiatives to manage diversity in the workplace.
Strong impact – big success
A detailed evaluation provided insight into the success of the seminars.
- An assessment showed that participants went from a basic level of knowledge and skills (2 or below, on a scale of 5) to a much higher level (4)
- The seminar was perceived to have been inspiring, on a good level of aspiration and pace, and very relevant for their jobs (all rated >4)
- The highest rating of the evaluation was given to the instructor, The D&I Engineer, Michael Stuber, which was also reflected in additional feedback (‘great professional’, ‘a good consultant to analyse processes and set up a strategy’, ‘effective dialogue’)
Participants also mentioned that they would have liked to see more videos during the training and wanted to spend more than that full day. Key takeaways included that there is ‘no universal recipe’. At the time of writing this article, the results of one of the two groups were available and will be updated once more data will be obtained.
More information on the activities of the Diversity Charters that ran the seminars can be found here:
Diversity Charter Croatia www.raznolikost.hr
Diversity Charter Slovenia www.raznolikost.eu