This Week in Culture

We’re all tired of DEI. Too bad…

When it comes to DEI, no one is having fun anymore. The advocates are tired of dealing with the people who think it is a “distraction”. And those who think it’s a distraction are tired of the people who won’t stop talking about it.

So here we are. We’re stuck. The workshops are not making a difference.

I was recently talking about DEI publicly and received feedback from someone who asked why I would be talking about DEI when that’s not something we do. At Culture Partners, we don’t do DEI trainings. We don’t coach DEI leaders. And we don’t have a particular product around DEI.

But he was deeply mistaken in thinking that DEI is not something we do.

Whether or not equity is important to you is a belief. Whether you care if people feel included at your company is a belief. Whether you’re interested in hearing from people who are different than you is a belief. And you either believe that those things will make you better and drive better results or you think it’s a distraction.

Culture Partners did research on this last year and found that diversity in leadership ranks leads to better results. So I know where I stand on the matter.

Empower Women, Empower Your Organization: The Value of Women in Leadership

Case in point, one of our clients: We recently did a culture assessment for a professional services firm and found that women broadly scored lower than men across the board.  Unsurprisingly, women felt that they had less opportunity for advancement. But what I found even more interesting was that women were less confident in the company’s ability to succeed.  They didn’t believe in the company’s future. If half of your employees don’t believe in your future, you better believe you’re going to struggle to drive results.

What’s the solution? Do we believe that client needs a bunch of workshops? No. The solution is to activate lived experiences that will nurture the shared belief that everyone can win here so that everyone does win here.

DEI will never be useful if it is not a shared belief in your culture that drives people to act. DEI exists or doesn’t at your company based on the lived experiences people have that reinforce the shared belief about those things.  Celebrate it, ignore it,or tear it down. No matter what you believe about DEI – it is a part of your culture.

Elsewhere In Culture

Does The Workplace Still Need Human Intelligence?

My latest Forbes piece, “Does The Workplace Still Need Human Intelligence?”, just went live, and I’m eager to see the kind of discussions it sparks. It’s more than just a question—it’s a bit of a challenge to the usual doom-and-gloom stories that paint AI as the villain in the world of work. I’m turning that idea on its head, suggesting we look at AI as a partner rather than a replacement. This isn’t about looking back with nostalgia; it’s a call to embrace a future where AI takes care of the tedious stuff, allowing us to focus on what we do best: thinking creatively, empathizing, and innovating.

In the article, I dive into the need for a major shift in how companies approach their culture, especially around AI. It’s a bit of a manifesto for using AI to boost our human skills, not sideline them. I’m advocating for workplaces to be more open and agile, where fears and myths about AI are addressed head-on, and everyone feels empowered to use these technologies to their advantage. This shift isn’t just nice to have; it’s essential for businesses that want to stay ahead of the curve. By welcoming the AI wave with open arms and a readiness to learn and adapt, we’re not just surviving; we’re setting ourselves up to lead in a world where humans and machines work together more closely than ever, making our workplaces richer and more human in the process.

‘I can’t charge $20 for a Happy Meal’: McDonald’s franchise responds

Facing California’s new $20 minimum wage for fast-food workers head-on, Scott Rodrick, who owns 18 McDonald’s spots in northern California, isn’t mincing words about the economic tightrope he’s walking. Rodrick’s straight talk about nudging menu prices north to make ends meet under this new law captures more than just the financial gymnastics franchisees like him are forced into—it’s a real-time case study in navigating the clash between legislative good intentions and market realities. With a candid quip about not being able to charge $20 for a Happy Meal, Rodrick zeroes in on the heart of the matter: there’s a cap on what folks are willing to fork out for fast food, no matter how noble the cause behind the price hike. This scenario doesn’t just spotlight the immediate pinch on franchise owners’ wallets; it’s a broader testament to the agility and creativity demanded from company culture in response to economic turbulence.

Rodrick’s story—a blend of pragmatic price adjustments and strategic pivots like boosting delivery services over swanky new grills—reflects a deeper narrative about the resilience and innovation embedded in company cultures facing external pressures. It’s about more than just surviving the squeeze of wage increases; it’s a call to arms for businesses to double down on adaptability and forward-thinking. Rodrick’s approach exemplifies a dynamic, problem-solving culture that doesn’t just brace for change but leans into it, looking for smart, sustainable ways to thrive. It’s a potent reminder that in the face of mounting economic challenges, a business’s culture—the collective character and mindset of its team—is its true competitive edge. It’s about fostering a culture that’s nimble, that eyes every curveball as a chance to evolve, ensuring the business and its people not only ride out the storm but come out stronger on the other side.

If you want people to genuinely care, you need to change their beliefs, not only their actions.

I’ve been approached by countless CEOs and leaders, all expressing a shared frustration: despite reminding, urging, and implementing perks and benefits, they face a stark lack of genuine engagement.

This is precisely what we refer to as the “Action Trap.” The Action Trap occurs when leaders find themselves in a continuous cycle of implementing new processes and systems (taking new actions) to change results, rather than addressing the underlying experiences that lead to those results. Our beliefs stem from our experiences.

So, if you want to instill a new belief, you need to create a new experience.

That’s the key to making people care.

CEOs are people too.

Employees often think those in leadership roles have it all figured out, but that’s far from the truth.

I’ve interviewed numerous CEOs who’ve shared their own doubts, fears, and pressures, mirroring those of anyone else. Behind their facade of control and confidence they’re often facing exhaustion and burnout, fueled by ongoing demands from boards and shareholders.

So, how do we bridge the gap between the corner office and the cubicle, especially when the differences in salary and status seem worlds apart?

Enter Jason Greer, the “employee whisperer” and founder of Greer Consulting, Inc.

In this episode of Culture Leaders, we explore the essentials of a great corporate culture and debunk common leadership myths. Jason, renowned for his groundbreaking work in labor relations and featured in The Wall Street Journal and Forbes, explores the real challenges facing today’s leaders and their teams.

Discover Jason’s approach to creating an environment that values every employee’s voice.

Don’t miss this week’s episode of Culture Leaders with Jason Greer Diversity, Employee and Labor Relations Expert. Watch here:



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