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Shifting Mindsets and Expanding Perspectives

Learn how to initiate lasting change through a shift in thinking and mindset.

Brief Summary

Creating a culture of inclusion requires more than organizational policies and trainings. An organization is comprised of individuals from different backgrounds and cultural realities. Our individual beliefs and mindsets, which are shaped by our own life experiences, contribute to our world view and predispose us to certain ways of interacting.

Lasting change requires a shift in thinking and mindset; it can’t be simply mandated. Targeted experiences that expand perspectives can foster honest self-reflection on how our beliefs, assumptions, and actions impact others. Combined with a sense of fair play, they increase awareness of workplace dynamics that can broaden an understanding of the systemic advantages for some and disadvantages for others. As a result, this personal change can build commitment to organizational and personal change.


If not effectively designed & implemented, many inclusion efforts result in backlash and increased resistance. It’s important to recognize that individual world views are based on life experiences. When individuals are given the space to learn & grow, they’re more likely to respond positively. If a person doesn’t feel heard, or if they feel blamed & criticized, they’re less likely to respond with an open mind when asked to learn about others.  

Because not everyone has the same understanding of workplace dynamics, a single message won’t be effective for everyone. Try to understand the beliefs a person holds and meet them where they are with messages that resonate based on their understanding of inclusion.


Presenting data or the “business case” on its own isn’t enough to inspire commitment to inclusion. According to Heart of Change, people change their beliefs and actions less because they’re given analysis and more because they’re shown a truth that influences their feelings.

To shift mindsets, we need to foster honest self-reflection and experiences that “tug at the heart.” Whether reflecting on their own marginalization/exclusion, experiencing situations that help them understand privilege, or identifying with discrimination through the experiences of others, one can develop a stronger personal commitment to equity.

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Proposed Actions

  • Adopt “Head” strategies to cultivate curiosity: make a business case; partner with like-minded customers/clients to show business relevance; get external DEI recognition; engage the board of directors.
  • Employ “Heart” strategies to broaden awareness of differential experiences: reciprocal mentoring; personal storytelling to invite empathy; participate in experiences to learn about the reality of others; get involved an employee resource group (ERG) as an ally.
  • Provide opportunities for self-reflection through sharing of lived experiences to build awareness of personal beliefs and the impact of our actions. We can be further along in our journey in some dimensions (gender, race, etc.) than others.
  • Promote personal ownership of DEI learning to build commitment to growth. Share your own evolution, what you didn’t know before, how your mindset has evolved.
  • Build and leverage allyship through the organization; lean on allies in the dominant group to deliver the message.

Valued Guidance

Implementation Plan

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