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Your D&I Strategy: What’s Driving Resistance?

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Your D&I Strategy: What’s Driving Resistance?

On some level, resistance to change is a business guarantee, but that doesn’t make it any less painful at the time. What drives that resistance? Perhaps more importantly, who’s doing the resisting? 

Friction tends to be a by-product of a bad process; it’s more than just grumpy resistors reluctant to change up their routine. When it comes to revitalising your D&I strategy, resistance takes many different forms.  

Identification is the first step towards mitigation. Here’s what the drivers behind resistance to change can look like.  

The Fear of Obsolescence  

At a time of grand technological advancement, replacement fears are already sky-high. Introducing change can act as a compounding factor for those picturing their skillsets fading into obsolescence.  

The fear of being out-skilled is a common reason for change resistance, and it’s not entirely unfounded either – Businesses have a responsibility to act on the three major elements of change: Narrative, Process, and People. The latter should involve upskilling, providing employees with the means to adapt to change as opposed to getting left behind by it.  

Take the introduction of a new inclusive hiring process for example, without a narrative, there’s no need to believe in it. Without a process, there’s no real accountability, and without upskilling, you have no people to put it to good use. This results in frustrated staff, diminishing budgets, and a perpetual cycle of change resistance. 

Turn Resistance into Acceptance: 

  • Involve your people in the process early. If you’re directly impacted by the change, your skills will need upskilling. A clear pathway (backed by tangible support) enables progression. This means establishing a realistic timeframe in which they can achieve competence. 

Time and Effort 

Typically, D&I-enabled processes take longer to establish, partly because it demands we challenge bias, our inbuilt shortcut system. We know that the ‘slow the boat down to make it go faster’ philosophy works; the results are there, but it’s the slowing down part that puts off decision-makers.  

Resisters will use this as an excuse to push away D&I implementations (notably in functions like recruitment) because it appears to struggle at providing instantaneous results. Somewhat ironically, failing to prepare a faster boat tomorrow is damaging the company today. Surviving is not thriving, and if the surviving route is taken on the grounds of it being easier at the time, it won’t be long before the money runs out and the talent leaves.  

Turn Resistance into Acceptance:

  • Build a roadmap for change. It’s important for your people to see objective reasons to make changes. Resistance is often a result of immovable targets – change must represent a better way to meet them. 

A Lack of Incentive 

A culture of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, is entrenched from the top down. Getting senior leadership to buy in can be difficult, and it’s commonly down to missing incentives.  

While much of the data for D&I speaks volumes, it’s relatively fresh, and a widespread lack of any major investment into it means that positive large-scale results can be hard to come by.  

This can make it difficult to quantify the need for change, both financially and culturally. ROI plays a quintessential role in bringing people on board with change, and if this isn’t communicated sufficiently, it reflects in the lack of senior engagement.  

That said, waiting for the data might have you waiting to make changes forever, and there are countless other ways to increase leadership buy-in... 

Turn Resistance into Acceptance:

  • Introduce mutual mentorship (or perhaps, diversity mentorship from junior employees) 

  • Create avenues for advocacy 

  • Establish D&I as a key business metric 

  • Holding leadership accountable for D&I outcomes  

  • Form partnerships with sponsors 

  • Establish Employee Engagement Groups 

Responsibility Challenges 

Some resistors may see their changing responsibilities as an arbitrary burden, leaving them asking the question: ‘Why me?’ It’s not uncommon for broken D&I initiatives to perpetuate this attitude among the very individuals they’re aimed at.  

In some cases, this is down to businesses leaning on their diverse employees for all the heavy lifting when it comes to D&I.  

Conversely, a solid D&I infrastructure can offer support, safety, and a sense of workplace belonging. Introducing ways to develop a better understanding of D&I can inspire employees to recognise their responsibility within it.  

Turn Resistance into Acceptance:

  • Ask permission from employees - do they have the time and capacity to spearhead a D&I initiative? Are they being chosen for optics rather than meritocratic selection? 

The Belief that Change is Impossible 

Change is inevitable, not impossible, it’s just a question of when that change will come. Whether it’s a lack of confidence in the pilots of that change or a disdain for the change itself, some resisters push back because they see the new developments as futile.  

This, and the other points on this list, can be rectified with effective change management. The difficulty is knowing where to start.  

In our case, it starts with a conversation. If you need support from Trinnovo Consulting, reach out to director Abi Chamberlain at we’re here to help you scale for success, unlock your people, and enhance your business capabilities.