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Talent Development and DEI Should Work Together

Smiling group of diverse businesspeople showing the benefits of talent development and DEI.

3 Tips For Broadening Your Leadership Pipeline.

If I asked the question, “How do your talent development initiatives impact your diversity and inclusion efforts?” how would you respond? Would you go to the list of courses that you offer or resources you have available on how to better understand and leverage diversity within your organization? Or would you be able to show how your leaders and staff implement diversity and inclusion into their work?

Diversity and inclusion has been on the initiative list for organizations going on two decades now. In this time, most have used education to support their. But the question remains, are we taking steps that make an impact? 

Most organizations are offering education, providing resources and hopefully guidance for individuals to understand what diversity is, how it benefits a team or the organization, and why diversity is different than inclusion. But if talent development initiatives are not integrated into this process, we are simply sharing knowledge, not impacting outcomes. 

How many of you have ever been your leader’s “go-to” person for something? How many of you currently have someone on your team you’d identify as your “go-to”?  What draws you to this person (or people) is likely his/her track record, work product, ability to meet deadlines and, I’m guessing, likability and familiarity. This is human nature. We are naturally drawn to people we like or want to associate with those with whom we are familiar.

When we find someone we can trust, we tend to lean on that person. We share things, ask for guidance or feedback and rely on that person more than on others. In our professional lives, this is where we encounter a barrier with diversity and inclusion efforts. Let me share a hypothetical example.  

I’ve been leading my team for four years and whether or not I realize it, I tend to lean on the same people. I’ve created my cohort of “go-to” staff to which I assign (or offer) the new projects, the high-profile work and the stretch assignments. This makes sense to me because I have come to trust their work and dependability. 

Whether I realize it or not, these are the individuals I’ve chosen to develop as high potentials, and this could be of detriment to my team as a whole. By leaning on and developing the same people, I’ve lost the opportunity to gain new perspectives from other team members and severely reduced the ability to develop others. I’ve also unconsciously overlooked potential talent within my team that could drive our organization forward. 

So how do I go about fixing this? How do I turn diversity and inclusion knowledge into an action? Here are a few tips you can do to support the growth of your leadership pipeline, both within a team or within the organization: 

  • Take a broader scan of the talent within your team. Are there individuals who need to learn or could benefit from this experience? 
  • Be conscious of who you would naturally go to. Are there others that could lead a project with your “go-to” playing a supportive role? 
  • Focus on competencies and not just personality. What behaviors have individuals demonstrated that would be an asset or strength with this project? 

Put your diversity and inclusion knowledge into practice in your talent development initiatives. Be more purposeful in your delegation and development of staff to leverage your inclusion efforts within the organization.

Be Talented TalentED Mark


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