I have had many discussions about the state of Equality and Diversity. One thing that is always constant is Accountability. It is this word that stops good programmes becoming great programmes. This of course is not the only thing that needs to happen but it is fundamental.
Vance, Lowry and Eggett (2015) notes that, accountability theory explains how the perceived need to justify one’s behaviours to another party causes one to consider and feel accountable for the process by which decisions and judgments have been reached. In turn, this perceived need to account for a decision-making process and outcome increases the likelihood that one will think deeply and systematically about one’s procedural behaviours.
So where is the accountability line in Equality and Diversity? There are schools of thought that HR should be accountable for the success of any undertaking in this area. CEOs are also seen to be a responsible party as they sanction the need for change. There is something clearly glearing about this because there is an omission of Line Managers. Line Managers do not seem to be mentioned often or in some cases at all. Why is that? It is my believe that Line Managers can be the biggest blockage to any initiative around diversity. It is there that negative behaviours can occur and are nurtured by the Group Managers meetings, social events such as Friday drinking after work and the need to report on the bottom line rather than the people.
I have had conversations with experts in Equality and Diversity where we have come to the same conclusion that if you do not address the Line Manager issue it is likely that the project will struggle because the blocker (Line Manager) doesn’t see the importance of having a diverse workforce. Moreover it is their thought that they can easily bypass the request of the CEO or HR by implementing a non-effective, no accountable processes that lightly addresses the issue to pour ‘Cool Aid’ on the problem. (The phrase ‘cool aid’ means it may look nice but in reality its very poor).
It is crucial to gain the line management’s commitment when trying to institute diversity management policies since it is within the line managers responsibility to implement HR policies effectively (Cox & Blake, 1991; Aries, 2004).
This statement suggests to me that more work needs to done to ensure that we do not over look the need for the Line Managers to be fully engaged in the process not just given a work book to work from.
Accountability in my opinion and the opinion of others should be right across the business, CEO, Directors, HR, Line Managers and Staff. A trail of accountability should be made which will feed into data evidence to show the progression of the organisation. Any Equality and Diversity process should be embedded right through the organisation, it can then be monitored and challenges can be made for non-compliance .
I have often said Equality and Diversity is about Human Rights! We need to be accountable for our actions and ensure that those who try to drag the organisation down by their poor behaviours should be accountable for their actions. Robust policies and procedures are a must as is alignment with the company Values.
Clearly if you are not willing to change negative cultures, you cannot see the appropriateness of making sure there is a level playing field for everyone to achieve and you do not want to give up your seat at the table to help someone else then there is a problem. Those who cherish such an environment come in many shapes, sizes and colours. You may will be surprised that those who have protected characteristics and have been lucky enough to have a seat at the table sometimes build their empire and shake hands with those that prevent positive change.
It is indeed a challenging space to be in but those of us that want to make a difference will not accept all white panels talking about diversity, production of data with no real action, segregation of characteristics to allow for just one to be favoured without supporting the rest. Collaboration is needed to increase the voice of Equality and Diversity. Do not be afraid to call out negative behaviours because if you do not you become complicit.