The tragic death of George Floyd triggered worldwide social unrest over institutional racism that often overtly manifests as police violence. Young people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds came together in the streets, focused on making their future better. Their courage and energy pushed others to the street and, even more importantly, sparked a much-needed dialogue, followed by a renewed commitment to change in our places of work.
Employers saw what happened and want to overcome the challenge of ingrained inequities in our nation, communities, and workplaces. What worked in the past will not satisfy the demands of the future. Simply put, people of all backgrounds view racism as wrong and are tired of empty words. They want deliberate and meaningful actions to break down institutional barriers and they are willing to make that happen.
When an organization’s aim is high performance, it should remove all impediments to achieving that goal. Deliberately fostering diversity affords an organization more effective innovation and better decision-making to improve mission delivery for customers and stakeholders. When some members of a diverse workforce experience adverse effects of policies and practices that are ingrained in a culture built by and for the majority, those individuals cannot achieve their full potential, organizational performance is degraded, and the mission suffers. Inclusion helps the organization make thoughtful decisions to ensure policies and practices work for all. Equity ensures each member of the workforce has the adequate tools to reach full performance potential. Connected with equity, accessibility offers unbiased treatment and accommodation for workforce members with differing abilities.
The government, as the largest employer in the nation, represents all aspects of the nation in its workforce. As government agencies root out institutional racism and mitigate biases in their organizations, LMI offers the following perspective for improving the DEIA environment and optimizing performance.
Policies must be clearly written and widely communicated by leaders.
Every member of the workforce should know the leader’s stance and approach to DEIA. Clear policies should be distributed and reinforced throughout the organization.
A system of accountability, anchored in performance management, is essential.
A popular saying in management is “what gets managed and measured gets done.” The performance management function most effectively communicates accountability. Organizations set standards, observe and evaluate performance against these standards, and correct subpar performance.