By Abigail Moses-Dunne, Marcia Alesan Dawkins, Valerie Futch Ehrlich
Center for Creative Leadership
Organizational cultures that emphasize fairness, connection and human-centeredness inspire more effective collaboration, are more economically efficient, and can manage conflict and crisis effectively.[i] Such cultures are also marked by less burnout and more engagement, retention, and satisfaction.[ii] These cultural values directly relate to promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in the workplace. Despite these well-known values, leaders do not always know how to talk about them or make them tangible and practical. REAL is a research informed framework crafted carefully to do exactly that: help leaders make culture change real to the people on their teams. REAL is a research informed framework crafted carefully to do exactly that: help leaders make culture change real to the people on their teams. REAL provides the necessary foundation to generate effective EDI solutions that capture real effects and challenges people face. The current paper describes the REAL framework, the research underpinning its core tenets, and insights for leaders committed to building more equitable, diverse, and inclusive organizational cultures. The elements of the framework are:
- Reveal relevant opportunities by exploring your organization as a complex system, identifying strategic actions for change, and being clear that goals may be hard to achieve.
- Elevate equity as foundational to diversity and inclusion efforts because it provides fair opportunities for all to reach full potential.
- Activate diversity strategically by embracing stakeholders’ vast reservoir of perspectives and experiences, ultimately enhancing innovation and decision-making.
- Lead inclusively by nurturing connection, vulnerability, courage and investment in initiatives to build respect a sense of significance for every stakeholder.
[i] Alemany, L., & Vermeulen, F. (2023, July 1). Disability as a Source of Competitive Advantage. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2023/07/disability-as-a-source-of-competitive-advantage
[ii] Stein, D., Hobson, N., Jachimowicz, J. M., & Whillans, A. (2021, October 13). How Companies Can Improve Employee Engagement Right Now. Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2021/10/how-companies-can-improve-employee-engagement-right-now
Moses-Dunne, A., Dawkins, M. A., Ehrlich, V. F., Clerkin, C., & Crittle, C. (2023). The research foundations for REAL: A framework for leadership action in equity, diversity, & inclusion. Center for Creative Leadership. https://doi.org/10.35613/ccl.2023.2056