From Awareness to Action through Self-Coaching

Odds are your organization has sponsored one or more iterations of “diversity training.” It’s a sensitive topic and the impact of the training is often unclear. In many cases, participants are left uncertain how to turn their newly heightened awareness into action.

I’d like to share some thoughts about how organizations can more fully realize the benefits from their investments in DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) training.

Many organizations pursue DEI training with noble intentions around creating workplace cultures where all employees experience psychological safety. They want everyone to feel comfortable being themselves — with no adjustments required to “fit in.” I applaud this pursuit.

The emphasis of such training is often primarily on raising awareness. For example, people are taught to see that implicit bias (I like the term “unintentional bias”) exists in all of us and that bias extends from individuals to the organizational level. They may also start to become aware of ways their own actions and underlying thought patterns may (un)knowingly contribute to the problem. It’s definitely a win!

But it’s only the first step. It doesn’t necessarily lead to taking different actions or creating new habits — real behavioral change. Participants are often left wondering, “how do I go about changing what I am now aware of?”

It turns out that behavior change is a key component of DEI success.* Based on decades of research, Patricia Devine (a psychology professor and the leader of the Prejudice and Intergroup Relations Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison), has determined that “prejudice is a habit that can be broken.”

Self-Coaching Can Help

Shifting entrenched behaviors is difficult — if not impossible — without a roadmap for behavioral change. That’s where an innovative program called Coach Your Self Up comes in.  It teaches participants self-coaching skills, to do the critical “inner” work (on one’s mindset and thought patterns) to make lasting “outer” changes (in behavior). It’s all about behavior change.

Coach Your Self Up may be a perfect partner to DEI training. Now that so many companies have laid the groundwork by raising awareness, I’m excited about the opportunity to help employers provide their employees with self-coaching tools and approaches on “how” to make those individual behavioral changes a reality. It’s not the entire DEI picture, but it’s necessary for a more DEI-forward and self-aware culture.

* For a deeper dive on the importance of behavior change to DEI success, check out this article:  Is This How Discrimination Ends?