As the country deals with the impact of COVID-19 and social unrest over racial injustice, employers have vowed to improve diversity within their organizations. Though equity may be at the forefront for implementing change, there are many other reasons why organizations should prioritize diversity. Diversity and inclusion is good for business and implementing a training program can help organizations be more profitable, attract and retain talent, and drive innovation.

Inclusive training programs are often mischaracterized as racist and divisive – and it’s important to dispel that myth. Recognizing systemic issues and having difficult conversations on race are necessary to eliminating bias and promoting trust within the organization. When facilitated by experienced professionals, education programs provide a safe space for employees to move beyond unconscious biases to shared goals in support of diversity, inclusion, and collaboration.

Our new book, The Next Smart Step: How to Overcome Gender Stereotypes and Build a Stronger Organization, provides organizations with a roadmap and action plan to reassess their practices and train employees on the 21st century skillsets needed to reach their goals. The framework pairs accountability with training and organizational change, starting from uncovering biases at the individual level to evaluating systemic barriers in the organization. After following the comprehensive roadmap, your organization will be able to recruit from diverse talent pools, implement inclusive employee promotion and development practices, meet performance metrics, and more. Check out the three steps to The Next Smart Step process:

1. Mindset Shift

The first step, Mindset Shift, prompts leaders to uncover their flawed assumptions that lead to bad habits. The unconscious biases that individuals have — such as rigid gender roles – are rooted in false social constructs. For example, women are expected to “do-it-all” at home and at work, – especially now with COVID – wait to ask for rewards, and maintain perfectionism, while men are pressured to fulfill the archetype of a strong, successful provider. In order to change these faulty mindsets, it’s necessary for individuals to step back and identify which assumptions are affecting their mindset and then  reframe their assumptions. By bringing their unconscious biases to awareness, leaders develop a more empathetic decision-making process that changes organizational culture from the bottom up.

2. Skillset Development

Developing comprehensive 21st century skills in leaders is integral to creating an equitable workplace. Our inclusive leadership competency taxonomy gives organizations a tool to measure people’s skillsets and chart a path toward a synthesis of diverse capabilities. The four levels in our model are: Diversity, Inclusion, Voice/Engagement, and Synthesis. Individuals start by developing a recognition of diversity and progress up the taxonomy scale until they master comprehensive diversity intelligence. Though the taxonomy becomes progressively more difficult to climb as one moves up the scale, reaching a synthesis of skills in leaders is essential to achieving the maximum potential of strategic outcomes for your organization.

3. Environment/Processes

Having a diverse team isn’t enough – to retain employees, an organization must foster a positive learning environment where individuals feel included and free to share their thoughts without being overlooked. To achieve such environment, organizations can first assess where they are using our standardized process. You’ll look at the overall landscape such as overall progression and numbers, processes, such as hiring, promotion and evaluation, and the supporting environment, which includes culture and even the relationship with customers and clients. You can use our Gender Scorecard to evaluate where biases lie in the following organizational processes: Recruiting, Retention, Performance Evaluation, Promotion and Pipeline, Development, and Mentoring.

Fixing inclusivity is an operational business problem – and it requires addressing all three steps in our process to work. Your organization will need to carefully measure and implement your action plan, but with the proper investment, you’ll unlock bottom-line business benefits and countless new possibilities.

The Next Smart Step: How to Overcome Gender Stereotypes and Build a Stronger Organizations, is available now for your e-reader or for the hard cover pre-order on and

To learn more about the three steps to the The Next Smart Step process, join our webinar on Oct. 23. Register Here

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