Inclusion at work
Here’s a sampling of the innovative projects whose success was driven by our inclusive principles.
Planning and Launching a Military System of Care Collaborative
Overview: The Colorado Defense Mission Coalition and Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) undertook a comprehensive regional study to assess potential impacts of military growth and realignment. They projected increased needs for medical, behavioral health, and social services related to deployment and combat conditions. An inclusive, well-coordinated strategic planning process that engaged multiple military and civilian community stakeholders in a clear course of action was needed to implement their recommendation for a military system of care collaborative in the Pikes Peak region.
Challenges: It is conservatively estimated that one in four residents of the Pikes Peak region is a past or present service member. This region is also home to five major military installations and more than 2,000 nonprofit organizations. Military leadership rotations and increasing resource scarcity intensified challenges in communication, coordination, collaboration, and trust among these entities. Differences among military and civilian cultures had not been adequately bridged. Leadership changes on the system of care effort itself impacted progress, while urgent and complex needs of former and current military members and their families continued to increase.
Solution: Jody framed “lessons learned” from the project’s history and guided PPACG to convene an inclusive, cross-sector steering team representing the diverse constituencies critical to the project’s success. She then designed and facilitated a highly condensed strategic planning process to meet PPACG requirements and to build a care collaborative that would better serve the region’s military community. Jody and her consulting team conducted a customized assessment, building a knowledge base for decision making. Strong and inclusive communication systems were built into all processes to ensure positive engagement by as many stakeholders as possible and to build the boundary-crossing relationships needed for project continuity and success.
Results: Critical military, government, and civilian community partners at all levels became and remained consistently engaged throughout the process. PPACG published the Peak Military Care Network (PMCN) Assessment Report, which detailed challenges, solutions, and insights from local and national organizations, survey data, and members of 12 focus groups. Those groups represented government, military, and business leaders; first responders; service providers; nonprofit organizations; system users; and others. The report identified priorities, guided construction of a strategic plan, and stands as a reference. PMCN continues to build its infrastructure according to plan, and is moving forward to improve efficiency, effectiveness, and collaboration throughout the network and to ensure the highest standard of behavioral health, social services, and community integration care for service members, veterans, and their families.
Note: The information presented here is public information. More
Increasing Native American Student Attraction and Retention
Overview: An institution of higher learning undertook a budget review during the ongoing financial downturn. Fund disbursements previously used for direct support of Native American students were realigned. The academic director in charge of these funds sought the most effective ways to continue to attract and retain Native students with these newly limited resources. Organizational consulting and input from the students themselves were desired to gain insight into the needs, perceptions, and factors affecting the Native students’ success, as well as to develop funding and planning priorities within the framework of the institutional constraints.
Challenges: The interdisciplinary academic center undertaking this project had a rich history of contribution to these students, the larger institution and the region. Since its founding, multiple offices and departments across campus began to be established to serve the needs of underrepresented student groups. When circumstances led to a review of longstanding practices at the center, challenges in organizational structure were identified. These challenges, along with those of communication and coordination, were affecting the students’ experience as well as the ease of gathering accurate information by which the best decisions could be made.
Solution: Jody designed and implemented an organizational consulting process based in the recognition of Native students as experts on themselves. With the aid of the center director, she formed an internal team of Native students and supportive staff and faculty, and equipped this team to help guide an assessment and ensure its cultural integrity. Jody engaged diverse constituencies, ensured communication and partnership across differences, and effectively assessed the environment using interview, focus group, and survey methods in such a way that Native student voices critically shaped recommendations and actions.
Results: Key factors in Native student success were identified, along with barriers to that success. Based on these findings, a new structure for fund disbursement was designed and put in place, support for the on-campus Native student group was increased, and center staffing was restructured. A position for a Native intern was created to provide coordination between different offices that supported Native students. Communication practices with Native students and parents were strengthened. Specific priorities were identified for a longer-term, coordinated initiative to leverage the unique geographic and academic positioning of the institution and to increase Native student presence and success.
Building Inclusive Culture in a Midsize Organization
Overview: An organization of approximately 2,500 employees had multiple diversity challenges over a number of years. Lawsuits, grievances, and public controversy had highlighted problematic internal practices and brought about additional tests of media relations and customer trust. The organization’s governing body and top executive sought to build a comprehensive, long-term initiative that would change workplace practices and restore the organization’s service reputation.
Challenges: Multiple changes in leadership meant that behavior had become somewhat entrenched in segments of the workforce. Previous attempts to address internal diversity matters had failed. Dedicated and capable employees were experiencing some related morale challenges.
Solution: Jody worked with department directors and a council comprised of employees to undertake an organization-wide needs assessment and cultural climate survey. At the same time, she strengthened the employee council to maximize credibility and foster interdepartmental partnerships. Jody then designed, implemented, and coordinated a comprehensive plan for creating positive cultural change. A multifaceted and sustained process was implemented over time. This process was fully customized to accommodate the needs of the ten departments, each with highly diverse internal missions, responsibilities, workforce characteristics, and staffing schedules. In-house trainers were trained to deliver customized educational curricula to the entire organization. Creative community partnerships were developed to leverage resources and afford employees expanded opportunities to further direct their own learning experience. Internal policies and practices were reviewed and aligned with inclusion goals. Accountability measures and a communication plan for internal and external audiences, including public briefings, were consistently implemented.
Results: Inclusive practices gained credibility and traction. Employees at all levels became more comfortable and effective at addressing topics that had not just been challenging, but had previously been cause for major disruption. Different departments began “sponsoring” educational programs and activities with the employee council. The organizational climate was also positively impacted through modeling of inclusive principles, practices, and management philosophy at senior levels. More intentional hiring practices and other inclusive organizational practices were implemented with success. Discrimination lawsuits and bias complaints decreased. Organizational change efforts generated positive local press and national interest. The organization’s public image began to improve. Inclusive practices were integrated into a leadership initiative and into the mission-focused work of the organization.