Part 2: Leading and Sustaining Your Inclusion Eco-system



By Simma Lieberman

As I wrote in Part 1 of this article, culture change has to be driven by a company’s vision and leadership along with the rest of the senior management team and HR. Too often, organizations rely on quarterly lunch and learns, off-the-shelf training, or one-time off-sites to affect change or to build inclusion. All of those are useful, but in order to get results, you need to think of inclusion and culture as a whole ecosystem. Diversity is an ecosystem with many parts that are aligned and driven by the need to create and sustain the best workplace. I’ve identified Six “I” Steps that help ensure the success of diversity and inclusion programs.

The  “Six I steps” are:

  1. Insight

  2. Inclusive work culture

  3. Implementation of culture change

  4. Individualized convenience perks

  5. Immersion

  6. Integration

In Part 1 I discussed Steps 1 and 2. Here we’ll take a look at the other 4 steps.


Step 3: Implementation

Inclusive Culture Initiatives often get stuck between the CEO and the third level down, because leadership hasn’t developed an accountability and action process to reach the front line: the employees that interact with customers.

Policies and procedural guidelines may be in place, but no change is happening.

Strategy with no implementation is like planning a vacation, buying airline tickets, reserving the hotel, packing and never leaving your house.

Posters with slogans, and pictures of diverse employees do not constitute culture change. They might just be an example of “looks good in the company photo.”

Inclusive leaders hold managers accountable for their own behavior, as well as the behavior of their employees. This means that there are benchmarks and milestones such as:

  • employees are able to articulate how their work relates to the organization’s mission

  • decisions are made regarding employee resource groups

  • there are increased opportunities for employees to be innovative

  • and leadership listens and takes action on employee ideas, when appropriate.  

It’s important for leadership to stay involved, model inclusive behavior, and engage in conversation with employees beyond the executive team.


Step 4: Individual Convenience Perks

These are the programs, policies, and added benefits that make an employee’s life easier so they can be more present, productive, and participatory at work.

From free home maid service for employees at the Omni Group, to eldercare counseling, and running clubs, organizations have seen a good Return On Individualized Convenience Perks (ROICP). Not only do the perks lower employee stress levels, but they also create a culture of community that reduces turnover and makes employees feel good about coming to work.

If employees are feeling sluggish from lack of exercise, worried about a sick child, or burned out from trying to do too much, they can’t give 100% of their talent to your organization, no matter how hard they try.

Some other examples of individualized perks are; subsidized dining rooms, pre-cooked dinners at very reduced prices, so employees don’t always have to worry about cooking, on-site gyms, or employee discounts at off-site fitness centers, game rooms, meditation and quiet rooms, book clubs and concierge services.


Step 5: Immersion

During this step, everyone in the organization is involved and invested in their individual and everyone else’s success.

Recruiters, and other people involved in the hiring process are trained in interviewing skills to expand the candidate pool and hire and leverage the talents of people from diverse backgrounds.

Anyone can have a mentor who wants one. New employees are integrated into the work culture quickly and are comfortable contributing ideas.

Managers are more comfortable with sharing problems and employees are invested in achieving their missions. They are not just doing “their job.”

There are opportunities for people to share their knowledge, and learn from each other.

The organization is now known for innovation, and as a place where people are recognized and rewarded for their contributions. Employees make customers feel welcomed and included.


Step 6: Integration

CEOs and other executives should join the organization because their values are aligned with the culture. Continuity of the corporate culture is paramount. It cannot be that every time there is a change in leadership, there is a change in culture. Otherwise,  productivity suffers because employees don’t know what to expect, or what the new unwritten rules are.

After some time, Inclusive Culture becomes integrated into every aspect of the business, and in the organization’s DNA. There is a newfound pride in working for the organization.

Even if employees don’t like what they do, they like coming to work, and look for opportunities to grow within the organization. Employees and customers feel like they are part of an exclusive club in which everyone is included.

Even years after you leave, the legacy of inclusive culture change and leveraging diversity lives on through you.




Employ Diversity