According to Gartner, a research and advisory company, 69% of organizations cite workforce diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) as a priority. But how can you achieve diversifying your leadership team?
For Jane Riddell, the president of GoodLife Fitness, it starts with recruiting.
“Step outside your normal recruiting strategies and target diverse individuals using different recruiting and sourcing options,” said Riddell. “GoodLife Fitness worked with the BlackNorth Initiative and other organizations that focus on hiring.”
Riddell shared their employees and members come from all backgrounds. In many cases, their fitness advisors, personal trainers and group fitness instructors are able to support members as they adapt to life in Canada or address barriers. She said there’s a shared experience and sense of connection that makes their clubs more welcoming.
“At GoodLife Fitness, our purpose is to give everyone in Canada the opportunity to live a fit, healthy and good life,” said Riddell. “When we say that, we really mean everyone. To make that happen we need to embrace diversity practices because Canada is diverse — people come from all different backgrounds and outlooks.”
To achieve this, GoodLife’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion team worked alongside the company’s employee-based DEI task force to develop a multi-year strategic plan, with the goal to make GoodLife one of the most inclusive companies in Canada. Riddell said the strategic plan focuses on continued learning, leadership accountability and diversity recruitment. It also includes specific partnerships with external organizations and experts to roll out targeted programs aimed at building inclusion in marginalized communities.
Here, Riddell shares seven tips, in her own words, to help health clubs diversify their leadership teams:
- Think outside of the box. Change what you’ve done in the past to recruit and find opportunities to promote promising team members into leadership positions.
- Remove bias. Look at your current team demographics before you hire. Instead of adding another person who is similar, make an effort to hire employees with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Adding more diverse, qualified candidates to your team encourages new ways of thinking. If possible, try for more diversity when you choose your hiring panel.
- Ensure all leaders and employees participate in DEI education and learning. Continue to offer further education in this area. Make it mandatory. At GoodLife Fitness, DEI training is part of new employee onboarding and managers’ performance review packages. We have also included DEI questions in all interview packages to initiate discussion where possible and ensure new hires have DEI in their nature and experiences.
- Implement ‘inclusive leadership’ education so everyone within the company understands what an inclusive leader looks like.
- Recognize and celebrate cultural events, holidays and ensuring diverse leaders know they can be their authentic selves in the workplace.
- Establish mentoring programs for up-and-coming marginalized employees who want to move into leadership roles. Make sure leaders have a chance to work with different employees to provide them the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities. This helps prevent affinity bias and nurtures potential in an inclusive way.
- Take steps to ensure your leaders are committed to and accountable for supporting DEI. Getting commitment starts with exploring and explaining why DEI matters to employees and to the business. Provide facts and stories to support your explanation. Learning from actual examples helps engage leaders and increase their willingness to lead change. Then make sure accountability is part of daily operations, so DEI becomes a pillar in the organizational structure.
Overall, Riddell emphasized the importance of listening to your team during the process. She recommended giving them a space to talk about what’s happening and providing them with psychological safety. If leaders don’t feel safe, they’ll resist change or they’ll quietly stop trying because they’re afraid to say the wrong thing.
Lastly, it’s important to keep in mind the process will not be perfect and to give yourself grace during it.
“The reality is, you have to make mistakes to learn and progress,” said Riddell. “Be accepting. Ensure your intentions are in the right place.”
Leave a Reply