Equality – what is that?
Oh, yes, it’s a matter of justice, it’s a matter of quality, it’s a matter of employment branding, using resources effectively and it can be a part of corporate responsibility. It’s quite easy to find general arguments for why equality work is important. However you also need to ask what does it or could it mean for our organization as a part of our values and practices?
To know what you want to achieve with the support of equality work there is a need of setting up and destination for the work.
The equality work itself needs its owns main objectives, such as destinations of the work you want to conduct. A vision is helpful, but concrete main objectives on an organizational level is crucial for a successful process. Without main objectives it is difficult to keep focus and keep the work within the mandate of change you have.
Working with equality is like making a road-trip. If you just take the car and start driving, at some point you need to know where you’re going, or you might end up just wasting gas and money on sloppy road-cafés. You are doing a road-trip yes, but what is the destination of it? What do you want to achieve as a whole or what are the achievements of a day? This kind of a road-trip might provide you with laughter or two for the future, but you would not involve an entire organization and a lot of resources on a trip like this.
The lack of integration in the structure of the organization is often the main challenge when introducing new perspectives on organizational work. The main objectives of equality work need to be strongly connected to, preferable integrated with, the main objectives of the organization. International processes create supportive requirements for results. Similarly, the road-trip need to be planned to take the most of the local activities and environment, the equality work have to be induced and adapted to the environment of the organization.
Motivating equality work within your organization is the “why?”-question. All of the employees should be able to answer the question of why equality is needed in and how equality can support the quality improvement of their working tasks. All in in the car on the road-trip need ownership of journey, their own motivation is to be clear to make the road-trip fun and fruitful instead of one being home-sickness, an other dreaming of sailing and the third questioning the direction or the stops. Everyone do not have to be a driver, map-reader or guide-book reader. The different motivations can support the destination, each in their own way. But only as long as your motivation and your role in the process is clear. In an organization terminology, language and examples need to be adapted to all levels for creating a ground of building individual motivation.
Many organizations start using equality as a means to achieve other things such as branding, increasing productivity or decrease costs. It’s can be a very good way of facing resistance and motivating the equality work. But to talk about it only as a means, is not enough for setting the compass for your equality work. You need a vision of equality in order to set the direction. Having a clear view of where you want to go will also help you evaluate the current situation, prioritize between ideas and actions and, not least, it will help you in motivating your co-workers, and make everyone work the same direction. It is one of the first steps to be taken, before you head of to your equality journey.