ATD Blog

Changing D&I Through Change Management

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Despite compelling research from McKinsey, which found that companies with gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to outperform less diverse companies, diversity and inclusion (D&I) progress in American companies has been painfully slow.

Consider these stats: 

  • Although women comprise 45 percent of the American workforce, they represent less than 5 percent of CEOs and less than 20 percent of board members.  
  • Corporate boards are still 70 to 75 percent white males

Multiple factors contribute to the current state of inequity in the workplace. Hidden bias can affect even seemingly open-minded employees. Additionally, organizational constraints such as underfunding of the D&I function, silos, and lack of rewards or recognition for D&I can impede progress. Many organizations view D&I as a series of one-off initiatives and not part of an overall change management strategy. 

Change Management: A Systematic Approach

Because the challenges facing D&I progress are multifaceted, so too will be the required solutions. A methodology should frame D&I efforts using the lens of change management. Here are three of the most widely used models for organizational change: 



This model is an eight-step process:

  1. Establish a sense of urgency.
  2. Create a guiding coalition.
  3. Develop a change vision.
  4. Communicate the vision for buy-in.
  5. Empower employees to take broad action.
  6. Generate short-term wins.
  7. Never let up.
  8. Incorporate changes into the culture.


ADKAR is an acronym that “represents the five milestones an individual must achieve for change to be successful”: awareness, desire, knowledge, ability, and reinforcement.


The Accelerating Change & Transformation (ACT) Model

Developed by Emergent, this model has been used at both Fortune 500 and midmarket companies. Steps include:

  • Plan the change.
  • Create urgency
  • Lead the change.
  • Engage the people.
  • Align systems.
  • Sustain the change.

Change management processes offer D&I a plan for implementing change; looking at factors including communication, training, rewards, and recognition; and identifying change agents and sponsors. The change management process should also assess where people are with respect to D&I in various levels, functions, and locations. Are they:

  • active change agents, willing and able to get involved
  • active supporters
  • ·on the fence and want to learn more
  • active resisters
  • saboteurs?

It is necessary to have a full picture of the current state to plan the actions required to move to the desired state. D&I needs change management methodology that incorporates systems, processes, people, and a long-term investment for sustainable results.
How has your organization used change management approaches to drive D&I progress?

About the Author

Marjorie Derven, a director at HUDSON Research & Consulting, has worked with many leading organizations to design change management strategies and initiatives that integrate organizational effectiveness, DEI, and learning to create solutions that drive meaningful change.

She formerly served as chair for TD Editorial Board and as a Senior Fellow at The Conference Board in the human capital practice. With 20+ years of consulting experience with top-tier companies across multiple industries, her areas of expertise include emotional intelligence, diversity and inclusion, global leadership development, talent management, and organizational research. Marjorie has published dozens of articles and is a frequent presenter at global conferences. For more information, contact [email protected].

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