From Buzzwords to Action:Building inclusive organizations through comprehensive leadership & individual actionsBy Svina Dhaliwal, Toronto Police ServiceDiversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) have become buzzwords for many organizations. Police organizations are at various stages of their DEI journey. While many police members will often report that they have attended conferences and taken some training in these areas, the tangible aspects of leadership behaviours and individual actions that model inclusive behaviour are often unclear. In this article, I will focus on what inclusive leadership looks like in the context of police services, highlighting examples that span across enterprise, leadership, management and individual levels.At the Enterprise Level An inclusive police service will have a strong commitment to inclusivity that is reflected in its strategic plan and reinforced by leadership and their boards. This includes committing resources and budgets to these efforts, regular communication from leadership and boards that emphasizes its importance, as well as inclusive decision-making processes. In addition an inclusive police service will have processes in place to publicly track and measure progress toward equity and inclusion goals with a commitment to regular reporting.Frameworks to help you get started Often, organizations don’t know where to start. A helpful tip is to consider adopting one of the many equity frameworks that are available that organizations use to assess their current DEI status, set goals and track progress. Here are some of the most well-known ones:• The Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Benchmarks (GDEIB) from the Centre of Global Inclusion (centreforglobalinclusion.org);• Deloitte’s Diversity and Inclusion Maturity Model (DIMM);• The Diversity and Inclusion Diagnostic (DID) by The Conference Board (www.conference-board.org/us); and• The Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion also has publicly available resources for organizations to leverage (ccdi.ca/resources).These models and frameworks can provide valuable guidance for organizations looking to improve their efforts. However, it’s important to note that each organization is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach, so anything you choose will need to be tailored to your organization’s goals.At the Leadership/Management Level Inclusive behaviours include being open to feedback (e.g., consider adopting 360 reviews in your workplace) and holding oneself accountable for progress on DEI goals. Moreover, identify those individuals, often from underrepresented areas, who would benefit from participating in leadership and development programs and using data to identify and address biases in decision making.Actionable Plans To successfully implement these inclusive behaviours and actions, police services must have strong support and buy-in from all levels of the organization, from frontline officers to senior leadership. This requires a realistic implementation plan that outlines specific goals, timelines and metrics for progress. It also requires an all-of-command approach to driving change, with everyone taking responsibility for creating a more inclusive culture. Finally, adequate resources must be allocated to support the implementation of DEI initiatives, including training, data collection and analysis and the creation of diverse and inclusive teams.Collect the Data Collecting internal and external socio-demographic-based data and other operational metrics is essential for informing equity initiatives and programs because it helps identify where disparities and inequities may exist within organizations, systems or communities. Collection and analysis of this data is essential to making evidence-informed decisions and to better understand how different groups are impacted by policies, programs and services and develop specific strategies and interventions.At the Individual Level There is great power when individuals across the organization collectively demonstrate inclusivity. It is where the culture shifts move from organizational commitments to actions. Here are everyday practical things you can do today to advance as a collective and individually – they do not cost anything and do not require any training:• Open up your networks – take it upon yourself to make introductions between your networks and contacts. Especially if you’re a leader, take it as an obligation to help those below you break into circles that are otherwise difficult to join. There is power in your relationships, and in turn, you will be remembered and thanked for the introductions you make.BY USING FRAMEWORKS, COLLECTING THE DATA AND HAVING ACTIONABLE PLANS, YOU CAN CREATE A ROADMAP FOR SUCCESS THAT FOCUSES ON TANGIBLE BEHAVIOURS AND ACTIONS THAT MODEL INCLUSIVE BEHAVIOUR.• Talk to the person in the corner – the new person on a team. Offer your name and be authentic in getting to know them. Ask them open-ended questions so they can talk and feel heard, and make eye contact. You never know what their story is; you don’t know when you will come across them again.• Be a vocal advocate and ally – this includes calling things out when you see disrespect in the workplace. This also applies to supporting people for promotions or giving them recognition for a job well done. It’s great to email or call a friend with words of encouragement, and it’s even better if you copy their boss and give them a shout-out in a meeting.• Check your leadership style – Irecognize that for mission-critical moments when team and public safety are on the line, a more directive leadership style is required. However, for the other moments that are not life or death, there are easy ways to create an inclusive tone: not interrupting when someone is talking, being open to different opinions, creating time and space for open, constructive dialogue and encouraging others to speak up, and acknowledging when your decisions did not have the intended outcome.Walking the talk of inclusive leadership requires a comprehensive approach that spans all levels of an organization. By using frameworks, collecting data and having actionable plans, you can create a roadmap for success that focuses on tangible behaviours and actions that model inclusive behaviour. Everyone has a role to play and can get started today. By doing so, you can create more inclusive police services that better represent the communities you serve.Svina Dhaliwal serves with the Toronto Police Service as the organization’s Chief Administrative Officer. She can be reached at Svina.Dhaliwal@torontopolice.on.ca.
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