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Inspiring Staff Engagement with DEI at a Government Agency 

We wanted to inspire our workforce so they want to take part in DEI rather than feeling it is happening to them. We wanted them to see themselves in it.”

Section Chief, Government Agency

At this state-level government agency, organizational culture is centered around service, caring and engagement. While diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work has been underway for some time, the agency needed clarity on its most impactful next steps. Leaders engaged Ridley Consulting Group (RCG) to help define what success with DEI looks like and develop a roadmap for getting there that would drive sustainable results over the long term. 

“We wanted to build on the DEI initiatives in progress,” says the Section Chief. “We recognized we didn’t have the expertise in-house to get everyone on the same page. We needed help on this journey to set us up for success.”

What the agency did uniquely well that contributed to its success was to equip leaders to lead the DEI journey by example and to intentionally inspire employees to join them along the way.

Equipping Leaders to Lead by Example

Over the course of a year, RCG helped agency leaders realize that sustainably achieving DEI outcomes hinges on doing small things consistently to embrace DEI rather than undertaking big initiatives. Through leadership education and monthly guided discussions, leaders developed their ability to talk about DEI topics. They learned to get to know colleagues in-depth through dialogue and appreciate their differences, and understood that by doing so, they are leading by example.   

Inspiring Employees to Join the Journey

RCG partnered with the agency’s DEI advisory team to launch a culture of belonging survey to gain employee input to develop the roadmap and define success. Employees were also invited to join feedback sessions to discuss survey results and contribute ideas. Through the survey and feedback sessions, employees came to feel a sense of ownership in the strategy and were excited about and committed to the roadmap because it was something they helped to create. 

“We wanted to think about what we could do to inspire our workforce so they want to take part in this process rather than feeling it is happening to them. We wanted them to see themselves in it,” says the Section Chief.

As the agency has started to implement its long-term plan, results are already evident. “In the last seven months, we’ve appreciated the support to start having these DEI conversations,” says the Division Administrator. “RCG was instrumental in helping us understand that our staff had to have a large presence in this process. The staff’s engagement, their ability to provide ideas, and leaders applying a DEI lens in daily leadership and interactions in small ways were all a big part of our success.” 

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Beth Ridley is a former corporate executive turned organizational transformation consultant, speaker and author. Beth combines 25 years of global leadership and management consulting experience with expertise in diversity and inclusion and positive psychology to partner with leaders to transform workplace cultures to better achieve their vision and goals. Beth’s work is featured in national publications and she frequently delivers keynotes and workshops at events around the world. Beth lives with her husband and three children in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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