Inclusion & Diversity

How DEI Can Transform Workplace Culture – Part 2

By: Lynn Heckler, EVP, Chief Talent Officer, PSCU

Once an organization has made a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), attention must turn to building an inclusive culture by making DEI a top priority. In doing so, it is crucial to understand why diverse talent might be leaving an organization.

In the first part of this blog series, I shared practical solutions for accelerating women and other underrepresented groups into leadership roles. In this post, we take a deep dive into one of the primary reasons cited by diverse talent for leaving an organization: lack of psychological safety.

Creating Psychological Safety
When people feel psychologically safe, they feel comfortable taking interpersonal risks and sharing their perspectives without fear of retaliation. This became apparent when the issue of systemic racism boiled over following George Floyd’s death as Black Lives Matter became a regular topic of conversation in the workplace. Creating a safe space where people felt like their voices were being heard and they were able to engage in conversations about race, gender and any other topic became more important than ever.

Fast forward to today. Do your employees feel comfortable engaging in conversations about DEI in the workplace? What would they say if you asked them?

Determining how to tackle these conversations can be tough, but there is a tool that can help: “Courageous Conversations About Race” by Glenn Singleton. This book outlines a four-agreement model around courageous conversations. While they are geared toward race, they can absolutely be applied to dialogue about gender, religion, national origin, age and any type of cultural differences. At PSCU, we embed micro training into other meetings to help ensure ongoing DEI education.

The four agreements are as follows:

  • Stay engaged and stay present in the dialogue, regardless of the engagement level of others. Resist that natural inclination to stay silent and disengage on potentially uncomfortable topics.
  • Speak your truth; share your honest thoughts and feelings. This requires a willingness to take a risk and possibly disrupt the peace in the workplace.
  • Be ready to experience discomfort. Nobody enjoys it, but it is truly the only path to real growth. Pushing ourselves into honest dialogue about our core beliefs, values, perceptions and behavior is how we will move forward in our efforts.
  • Expect and accept non-closure. Understand there is no quick solution to issues of this magnitude, complexity and longevity.

It took 400 years for systemic racism to be built in our country and, unfortunately, it will not be dismantled in a single year. We must commit to the ongoing conversation. Continual dialogue is an essential component of our DEI journey.

Lynn Heckler has served as PSCU’s executive vice president and chief talent officer since May 2011. Since joining PSCU in 2001, Heckler has shared her passion for creating a culture of inclusion, leadership development and engagement in the workplace, advancing PSCU’s initiatives for inclusion and diversity, women’s leadership, learning and organizational development, corporate insurance, facilities and more.