What Leaders and EDI Specialists should know about the success formula to tackle EDI challenges in the workplace

By: Jane Xu, Director of Organizational Development at the University of Alberta.


Organizations have realized an equitable, diverse and inclusive workplace culture would bring employee engagement, productivity, innovation and financial result. Researches show organizations have strong intention to improve EDI, but not many of them know what to do in the operation level and how to measure success, ie. the success formula.

Like change management mechanisms, EDI transformation in the workplace requires the work of defining the current state and the goal, raising awareness as well as imposing process intervention, hence, Measurement, Awareness and Processes would be three critical factors when paving a pathway toward EDI. Some tools should be considered in the change process, eg.

  • Measurement: use EDI Employee Belonging Survey to measure the team and organizational belonging index; Carry out the 360 Inclusive Leadership Survey to get multi raters’ feedback around leaders’ behaviors and facilitate the behavior change; Conduct Annual EDI Audit for a ‘Performance Appraisal’ kind review.
  • Awareness: Deliver EDI Training Programs and workshops to raise awareness and provide foundational knowledge.
  • Process: Use tools like Inclusive Leadership Competency Model and Process Dashboard to build or re-build infrastructure, etc.

Those tools, no doubt, will help address EDI challenges functionally. Also, Leaders and EDI Specialists need to be aware that the influence from the emotional end is instrumental, ie. stories and narratives from employees around their personal experience when it comes to discrimination, racism, and how they are treated in the workplace etc.  Inviting employees to dialogues and share good and bad moments of what they have experienced, how they felt, what they’ve learned. These would resonate with the larger audience and create a sense of urgency for the change.

Leaders and EDI specialists should recognize the journey toward EDI is not a sprint but a marathon, where it kicks start from the leadership commitment, gets energized by systematic approaches in improving process and behaviors, and endured by shared responsibilities of every and each one in the organization.


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