We were invited to redesign and facilitate a diversity weekend event for a prestigious leadership development program sponsored by a city chamber of commerce. This exclusive program attracted some of the most influential CEOs and organizational leaders, providing a nine-month leadership development curriculum with monthly themes that included topics such as education, economic development, policing, law enforcement, effective government, the arts, and diversity.
Although the program had been successful, the diversity component had been consistently rated as one of the least desirable areas of focus. Our objective was to revamp the agenda and enhance the outcome. We introduced an overnight component where participants brought cultural artifacts and shared more about their backgrounds and leadership journeys. We also taught effective diversity conversation skills and invited engaging speakers for Q&A discussions with classmates. In addition, several class members organized cultural dinners and discussions to further acquaint themselves with each other.
The results were remarkable. Our redesigned diversity weekend went from being the least desirable component of the leadership development experience to being rated first or second in overall value compared to the other monthly areas of focus. This success led to our team being invited to design and deliver the diversity weekend for two decades, an unprecedented accomplishment.
Moreover, many of the CEOs and executives who participated in the program established DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) initiatives within their respective organizations as a result of their positive experience with the diversity weekend. Our approach to addressing the diversity component of this leadership development program offers valuable insights into best practices for improving diversity initiatives within organizations. By introducing cultural immersion experiences, teaching effective diversity conversation skills, and providing access to engaging speakers, we were able to help transform the diversity component from being the least desirable area of focus to the most highly valued.