“The WMFDP Way is about leadership development, helping leaders explore how they think about themselves and others. Most organizations are led by white men. When white men begin to recognize their self-interest, they start to understand some of the challenges their non-white and female colleagues have been dealing with for decades.”– Peggy Nagae, Senior Consultant, COO, WMFDP
There was a time when companies had a high level of interest in our work, but an even higher level of anxiety. They looked into what we were doing, but their anxiety prevented them from seeing the transformative nature of our work. Now, we see companies and their leaders willing to see diversity and inclusion as a leadership imperative and a critical component of executive development– Bill Proudman, CEO co-founder WMFDP
A Roadmap for a Transformative Diversity & Inclusion Journey
A New Business Requirement
Diversity and inclusion – it’s been discussed, explored and debated in boardrooms and living rooms for decades. While some prioritize it as a vital business concern and others consider it a critical social justice issue, it is actually a profound mix of both.
The bottom line is that the commitment must come from the top. And in more than 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies, the top spot is occupied by white men.
When leaders drive the effort to create a diverse and inclusive workplace culture and when that effort is seen as a leadership development strategy, it benefits people and profits.
Still, even the most sophisticated companies struggle with how best to implement such change. They understand the primary business case for diversity and inclusion, but they are unsure about which strategies will help them reach their goals. Also, many organizations assume that those goals should be representational rather than cultural.
But diversity is not a numbers game. Nor should it be a tool used to lower legal risk.
A truly inclusive business is a place where all team members – starting from the very top of the org chart with motivated, committed executives – work together for greater profitability and productivity.
There’s a bottom line advantage to invest in diversity and inclusion initiatives, and a bottom line cost not to.– Michael Welp, PhD, co-founder WMFDP
Discovering What Does and Does Not Work
Traditional diversity and inclusion approaches that have been used for decades have not done much to move the needle toward meaningful, long-lasting systemic change in the business environment. They address superficial concerns and lead to unsurprisingly superficial results. They are flawed because they don’t begin at the leadership level and often lack an experiential component.
|The WMFDP Way||The Traditional Approach|
|Engages the head and the heart||Engages only the thinking brain|
|Prioritizes experiential learning||Prioritizes training over changing mindsets|
|Leans into difficult conversations||Avoids uncomfortable topics|
|Engages white men to drive diversity efforts||Ignores, sidelines and/or blames white men|
|Examines D&I through a dominant group lens||Focuses only on non-dominant groups, such as people of color, whit women and LGBTQ|
|Links a commitment to diversity with leadership development||Limits leadership development priorities to management or business skills|
|Changes the collective thinking through which pressing issues are addressed||Attempts to “fix a problem” so the organization can move on to other pressing issues|
|Promotes the productivity and profitability that can emerge from genuine cultural change||Incorporates threats and negative business incentives|
There are several legacy habits and obstacles that typically stand in the way of diversity and inclusion efforts:
- Organizations viewing diversity and inclusion as a stand-alone initiative rather than fundamental to leadership development and business strategy
- Leaders leaving it up to others to drive the effort
- Limiting diversity and inclusion to segments of the organization, preventing inspired individuals and teams to lead and culture of full inclusion
- Assuming that inclusive cultures are born of recruitment and retention programs
- Relying on quick-fix solutions
All of the above can be crystallized into the three fundamental obstacles that block organizational success with regard to diversity and inclusion:
- APATHY: Being stuck in a “status quo mindset” and slogging through indifference
- FEAR: Worrying about breaking rank and/or losing status
- IGNORANCE: Suffering from a lack of awareness and/or a disbelief that any benefit will come of the effort
Long-Term Ingredients for Success
Diversity and inclusion strategies can’t simply be shoved at an organization and expected to take hold. For the effort to pay dividends, the environment has to be open to change from the start.
A business and its leadership is committed and ready when it is willing to:
- Embark on a diversity journey, rather than implement a quick solution
- Embrace experiential learning
- Engage the head and the heart
- Lean into difficult conversations
- Identify white male leaders to drive diversity and inclusion efforts
- Examine diversity through a dominant group lens
- Link diversity with leadership development
A lasting cultural transformation occurs in an organization when:
Apathy turns to involvement with the realization that it is in each person’s individual and the team’s mutual selfinterest to create inclusion.
Fear turns to courage as people are inspired and experience a sense of hope.
Ignorance turns to competence, consciousness and confidence that benefits the person, the team and the organization.
A Journey, Not a Destination
Diversity and inclusion must be seen as a critical business strategy; a fundamental component of an organization’s mission. Like safety policies, it has to be embraced as nonnegotiable. It is not something to be “trained” how to embrace so that situational scripts can be recited on cue.
A successful diversity and inclusion roadmap does not have an end point. There is no single goal or defined finish line. Instead, success is measured by milestones that are less literal and more ongoing, as the change work is developmental. Doing it right means shifting to new and enduring ways of thinking and acting. Unlike other programs, the WMFDP Way does not attempt to “train” leaders and teams to behave in certain ways. It also stands apart from programs that seek to identify a quantifiable number of steps to fix workplace culture. Instead, it flips traditional approaches on their heads by shifting the mindsets of leaders — typically, white males — and exploring their unconscious behaviors and patterns.
Why White Men?
Most modern business leadership skills are rooted in white male culture white men don’t even realize they have.
White men do not see the water they swim in, so must step out of the “white men” culture they don’t even realize they have, if they are to embrace change in the workplace.
White male perspective typically frames corporate infrastructure and workplace culture. Yet white men typically render themselves voiceless in diversity and inclusion discussions, even as they express a genuine interest in and commitment to equality and justness. The assumption is that women, people of color, LGBTQ individuals and other frequently marginalized groups are better suited to “teach” D&I.
The WMFDP Way is built on the premise that everyone has a vital role to play in co-creating inclusive work cultures. Given white men’s majority hold on business leadership, they are often in the strongest position to drive any type of enduring organizational change.
Rather than singling out white men as targets and separating them from the diversity conversation, The WMFDP Way begins the discussion by calling on white men to be active participants and partners. Their perspectives are heard; their unconscious bias revealed; their patterns understood – even when that means having uncomfortable conversations.
Enlisting men is partly about helping them to see the benefits of equality. Fathers of daughters are some of the strongest proponents of gender equality, for obvious reasons, so they can be particularly powerful voices when it comes to bringing other men along. Research on male CEOs, politicians, and judges shows that fathers of daughters care more about gender equality than men without children or with only sons.Harvard Business Review, July-August 2016, “Designing a Bias-Free Organization”
Shifting Minds and Unconscious Behaviors
The WMFDP Way inspires executives to change fear and avoidance into passion and courage, transforming cultures and building powerful partnerships that inspires individuals, teams and organizations to follow their lead.
The WMFDP Way succeeds because it recognizes that no sustainable change effort can occur without a combination of intellect and emotion. Perhaps most importantly, it is treated as a leadership development model, not as “training” or an instruction manual.
It encourages courageous leaders to be more authentically relational, creating genuine inquiry. They begin to see other white men as partners and resources who no longer need to rely on others to “teach.” They emerge with the curiosity to ask questions and the confidence to lead with head and heart.
Once the dominant workplace culture shifts, it becomes impossible to return to the status quo. Teams and individual employees are all eventually engaged in the process of changing the organization’s diversity and inclusion DNA.
When we compared leaders’ self ratings with their ratings by bosses, peers, and subordinates, what we found was that many leaders assume they are better at valuing diversity than they actually are.”– Harvard Business Review, October 2017, Leaders Aren’t Great at Judging How Inclusive They Are
Experiential Learning with Impact
The founders of White Men as Full Diversity Partners (WMFDP) have devoted their careers to diversity and inclusion. In their combined 50+ years of professional experience, Michael Welp and Bill Proudman have watched as society in general and the business world in particular have evolved in their embrace of WMFDP’s approach to diversity and inclusion.
The evidence is incontrovertible. Companies that have continued to rely on legacy “training” initiatives – the same types of programs that were first introduced as early as the 1970s – have experienced little if any cultural change and find themselves stuck in outdated, unproductive patterns of behavior. Those that have addressed diversity and inclusion as a top-to-bottom way to grow capacity, on the other hand, are now seeing their change efforts take hold … for good.
The difference is in the experience: hands-on leaders learn to manage difficult conversations; self-reflection and vulnerability are encouraged; and empathetic breakthroughs regularly occur. WMFDP’s experiential approach inspires leaders to develop their own and others’ competency, which leads to meaningful and lasting change in the workplace. They emerge with the curiosity to ask questions, the courage to act without having all the answers, and the confidence they can make a difference.
Once thoughts, feelings and mindsets shift, retention rates increase and morale improves.
The Strategic Roadmap
PHASE I: BUILDING CRITICAL MASS
Based on its initial evaluation informed by a Readiness Assessment, an organization finds its own pathway towards diversity. Once a critical mass of executive leaders is built, the organization reaches the tipping point that makes it impossible to return to the status quo. Leaders emerge with “the three Cs” that are required of any change maker: consciousness, competence and confidence.
PHASE II: DEVELOPING FULL PARTNERSHIP
After reaching the tipping point, organizations find there is no turning back because inclusion has been integrated into the culture. While there is still work to be done, confidence and curiosity are well underway among the teams and there is greater competence to be found. Here, an organization applies and integrates the skills it acquired during Phase I, ultimately achieving a consistent pattern of inclusive behavior via everyday work situations. Leaders speak freely, teams engage in critical conversations and employees feel respected and heard. Individuals, teams, and organizations collaborate to build solutions for greater profitability and productivity