Organizations that struggle with low employee engagement, bias and inequities must look to their company leadership to resolve their issues. Through their words and actions, leaders shape the culture of their workplace. They set goals, determine what’s rewarded, influence decision-making and have a strong voice in promotions and hiring decisions. And if so inclined, leaders have the power to foster a work environment where all employees feel respected, valued and heard. Based on the deluge of actions that are currently taking place to address workplace issues, it appears that there is still much work to be done.
Companies are always quick to defend their leadership team and constantly look for other reasons to blame for their low employee engagement scores, lack of trust and DEI issues. But if you ask the workforce, it is abundantly clear that leadership is a key contributor to the many workplace challenges that companies are facing today.
After reviewing dozens of DEI Action Plans, I was surprised that many did not specifically provide leaders with new skills and tools that reinforce the actions and behavior needed to foster an engaging and inclusive work environment. It’s great that many companies are addressing pay issues and hiring practices but unless a company’s going-forward plan includes developing new leadership behaviors, and supporting those behaviors with new skills and tools, it is doubtful sustainable change will occur. And if nothing changes, nothing changes.