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When it comes to improving diversity in your organization, what are the questions you’re asking? You see, researchers have found that the questions we ask shape the outcomes that we get.

When we ask questions about why our women are struggling, we discover all the weaknesses of our strategy, our culture, our policies, our processes and systems. And while these are important insights to have, the reality is fixing these institutional weaknesses is generally a slow, expensive, and difficult process in most workplaces.

But when we ask questions about why our women are thriving (even if they are fewer in number), we discover all the strengths of our strategy, our culture, our policies, our processes and systems. While this doesn’t mean that we should ignore our weaknesses, the reality is building on these institutional strengths is generally a faster, more affordable, and sustainable way to create lasting positive changes.

So how can you pull this off when it comes to improving diversity in your workplace?

Appreciative Inquiry is a systemic strengths-based approach to creating lasting change. Based on the research of Professor David Cooperrider (Michelle’s PhD supervisor) this approach has been instrumental in:

  • Accelerating the growth of the United Nations Global Compact from 1500 firms to 8000 of the world’s largest corporations.
  • Improving energy efficiency across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts resulting in nearly nine billion dollars of benefits for residents and businesses.
  • Bringing together the world’s religious leaders to unite more than seven million people around the globe to try and build a better world.

How does an Appreciative
Inquiry Summit Work?

Grounded in the strengths-management philosophy, Appreciative Inquiry starts from the premise that you learn little about excellence by studying failure. Instead of talking more about gender inequality, what might be possible if we started to explore inclusive workplaces or women who are thriving at work? Given human systems have been found to grow in the directions about which they inquire, making a careful, informed, and thoughtful choice about the topic of conversation is where any Appreciative Inquiry effort starts.

Rather than having management, women, or HR teams explore potential answers alone, an Appreciative Inquiry Summit brings everybody together to:

  • Discover what’s working when it comes to bringing out the best in your women.
  • Dream of what’s possible if these strengths were consistently built upon to create a sustainable culture of inclusion.
  • Design pathways forward to mobilize people’s hope into clear actions that will deliver the diversity outcomes that realize your shared vision.
  • Deploy the promised actions by leveraging social support and social accountability to maintain momentum, navigate obstacles, and celebrate what is being accomplished.

Delivered over one to three days (depending on your needs), the speed, dexterity, and level of trust and collaboration created in an Appreciative Inquiry Summit is rarely experienced in most organizations. Its ability to bond opposing stakeholders around a common purpose, to motivate siloed leaders to pool their resources, and to transform hard-nosed cynics into raving fans is why Appreciative Inquiry Summits have steadily grown in popularity when it comes to creating lasting change.

If you’d like to learn more about how an Appreciative Inquiry Summit could help create lasting change across your organization when it comes to diversity, just email penny@leadlikeawoman.net and we’ll set up a time to talk.

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