Organizational Development

Organizational development within the context of inclusion and diversity entails a shift in your organization's culture. The culture of an organization refers to the underlying values, beliefs and principles that serve as a foundation for its management systems. The Pipeline Project can guide your organization through a process of identifying and adopting management practices and behaviors that both exemplify and reinforce the principles of inclusion and diversity.

The Pipeline Project has created an adaptable and modifiable two-day curriculum designed to assist organizations create their own roadmaps to becoming more inclusive organizations. The curriculum, with its activities, goals and objectives, helps organizations recognize diversity as a useful byproduct of process, operations, systems, and mission analyses that acknowledge and account for the often unseen and unconscious barriers to achieving and maintaining diversity in progressive non-profit organizations.

The framework or outline of the curriculum is as follows:

  • External and Internal organizational assessment to help organizations understand where they truly are and are not vis-a-vis diversity and how they arrived at this point.
  • A systems and structures inventory that examines both formal and informal systems, processes and strategies that enhance and/or mitigate the achievement and sustenance of diversity.
  • Analysis: what are the organization's hopes, concerns and fears about achieving improved diversity and/or inclusion?
  • Planning and Implementation: where does the work of creating an inclusive organization "fit" into the organization's current structure, work and strategic goals?

The Pipeline Process also offers the opportunity for organizations to work with us in an ongoing manner on periodic evaluation of progress of their plans, trouble-shooting emerging and/or present issues, future needs, goals and activities, and provided coaching and other technical support services.

It is worth noting that undertaking an inclusion initiative within your organization can be extremely beneficial; however, it is never an easy process. One of the consequences of a successfully diverse workforce -- particularly in progressive and social change sectors - is that the perspective of the work changes. People with diverse identities bring these identities with them to their work, which, while an asset to the organization and an inherent benefit of diversity, presents challenges. The changes resulting from a strong infusion of diverse staff members can be viewed as ultimately being positive:

  • more diverse voices and faces with the ability and charge to publicly represent LGBT issues
  • stronger connections between LGBT issues and organizations and non-LGBT progressive issues and organizations
  • greater exchange of professional staff between LGBT organizations and organizations representing natural ally communities

However, these changes will likely not come without some consternation for those organizations. Some people are not sold on the concept of inclusion. Some oppose diversity initiatives because they believe that they will impose hiring quotas and result in additional expenses. Other individuals may simply not want to acknowledge, let alone address, their own unexamined biases towards people different from themselves. Finally, the first stages of this process can reveal or surface characterizations of organizations that are less than comfortable; however uncomfortable they are, they're often simply typical institutional profiles in a broader culture that generally is not inclusive and does not support diversity. Those characterizations are essentially the institutional "default" positions in our culture. Regardless of the reasons, the case for inclusion is clear, and those who demonstrate resistance to its process and goals risk undermining their organizations' future success.

Lastly, it is essential that you determine whether your organization is ready to commit to an inclusion process. There are some simple ways to assess both the commitment and readiness of your organization. One way is to survey the attitudes of your staff towards the topic of diversity and inclusion. This will give you a sense of the receptivity and/or resistance levels you may face, as well as the general culture of the organization as it's perceived by white people and people of color on staff.

Another way to assess commitment and readiness is to examine your organization's policies and procedures. For example, indicate whether or nor your organization:

  1. Has a mission statement that affirms diversity and inclusion.
  2. Has a website that mentions its commitment to diversity and inclusion.
  3. Is committed to working with all the communities that comprise its target population.
  4. Has a policy for preventing and investigating inappropriate language or behaviors.
  5. Actively recruits employees and board members who can speak languages other than English.
  6. Has interpreters, including ASL, available when needed.
  7. Recruits employees and board members from culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
  8. Recruits employees and board members who have experience working with culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
  9. Has an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employment (EOE) policy.
  10. Has an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employment (EOE) officer.
  11. Has employees and board members from culturally and linguistically diverse communities in leadership roles.
  12. Promotes employees who speak with accents or dialects based on their job performance, and not how they speak.
  13. Evaluates all employees solely on the basis of their job performance.
  14. Has a diversity/inclusion committee on the board and/or staff levels.

Your responses to these items are an indication of the level of work that needs to happen at your organization.

To be clear, organizations may experience frustration during the process, often over the disillusionment and the continued departures of staff of color amidst their efforts to achieve and sustain diverse staff. This is why the Pipeline Project encourages organizations, especially the many smaller organizations within the LGBT movement, to not go through this process on their own. Contact us for more information on how your organization can partner with the Pipeline Project.