September 28, 2021
For today’s flavour of Secret Sauce, I’ll discuss some difficult lessons that I have learned about change management, especially as it relates to IDEA concepts – Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Accessibility.
In the early 2000s, prior to founding Breakfast Culture, my first change management projects were built out of necessity and conducted “by the side of my desk” at my workplace and as part of my volunteer work. For people experiencing discrimination and oppression at work, I understand some of what you are going through. I experienced systemic racism, anti-Black racism and homophobia in the workplace for years and became clinically depressed as a result of the racial battle fatigue. This was a dark time in my life and I want to help others who may be experiencing what I had to endure. This is what motivates my work at Breakfast Culture. The difficult lessons that I learned led to insights that have informed Breakfast Culture’s D&I Audit Process.
1. Change takes time, it doesn’t happen immediately.
I remember wanting to rush to get the organization to a place of equity, inclusion, and belonging. I wanted immediate change. I wanted to see people who looked like me in management roles versus another all-white management team! I am happy to say that today that organization boasts an Asian woman on the senior management team and an Asian woman and a Black man in director roles.
2. Change doesn’t always look like what you plan for, or expect.
I remember suggesting ten actionable recommendations that would support equity, inclusion and belonging in the organization. Sadly, my HR director rejected them all. Instead, the organization conducted unconscious bias training and introduced a Diversity Inclusion Anti-Racism Action Committee (DIAAT) that shared cultural and religious holidays and conducted “Inclusion Cafes,” i.e. cultural lunch and learns. From my informed perspective today, I would call that performative allyship but at least it was a start. I have learned that one needs to crawl before they can walk and that change does have to come from the top. I am happy to say that today, under a new CEO, the organization has made more concrete commitments to address systemic racism and even adopted eight of my actionable recommendations that the HR director initially rejected.
3. Change means understanding the difference between accountability and justice versus vengeance and revenge.
I remember inviting our parent organization’s D&I lead to our organization’s all-staff meeting. The first words out of his mouth were: “I’m not here to name, blame and shame.” I recall feeling betrayed. I thought to myself, “Then why are you here?” He then discussed accountability and what it looks like in organizations. With time and distance, I was able to look at my situation more objectively and I realized that what I really wanted from the organization was vengeance and revenge. I wanted my “pound of flesh” but what I should have been after was accountability and justice; sadly I realized that I wasn’t going to receive either. I am happy to say that later, the new CEO called me and asked that I hold him personally accountable for the organization’s new D&I journey.
I have more lessons, too many for one post, and I’ll share them in future flavours of Secret Sauce. Together with our partners at Prompta.AI, Breakfast Culture has used insights like these to create our proven five-phase process for our Diversity & Inclusion Audits to help companies on their organizational IDEA journeys. Happy to jump on a call to discuss how Breakfast Culture can help with your organizational diversity and inclusion journey. Book a meeting with us today: LetsBreakSomeEggs@BreakfastCulture.ca.
Let's break some eggs!
P.S. Change on the Run by Change Management Expert and Breakfast Culture Partner Phil Buckley is a must have in any change manager’s toolkit.
***Spoiler Alert: Clients who sign on for a Breakfast Culture Diversity & Inclusion Audit receive a copy of Phil's book (and other resources) as part of the service. My endorsement of this valuable resource follows:
“The one constant in the universe is change, it is inevitable. Managing change can be a daunting task for anyone. Phil Buckley has distilled the thinking, concepts and most importantly the daily practice of managing change in organizations into a concise, powerful and fun read. The book includes immediate actions readers can take to affect change in their own organizations. A must have in any change manager’s toolkit.”
– Jefferson Darrell, Founder & CEO, Breakfast Culture