May 12th, 2022 |
S1 Ep10 - Real DEI Talk with Northwestern Mutual's Vice President of Field Diversity & Inclusion Ron Adams
On a recent Linkedin post VP of Field D&I at Northwestern Mutual, Ron Adams shared his 5 D Model for DEI practitioners. We invited Ron to the podcast to go share his thoughts on the practice and his model.
Ron is the Vice President of Field Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) at Northwestern Mutual where he leads a team of diversity practitioners responsible for the creation and execution of D&I strategies for the organization's career distribution system. In this role, Ron co‐leads the Northwestern Mutual D&I
Corporate Committee and serves on the Field Experience Talent Management Leadership Team focused on developing and delivering core components of the overall field talent strategy to ensure the industry‐leading Northwestern Mutual career distribution system is strong and vibrant.
Ron joined Northwestern Mutual in January 2015 after a 26‐year military career where he served in many roles, including the Wisconsin National Guard’s diversity officer, equal employment manager, human resources branch chief, and public affairs officer, and completed two successful commands. He retired from the Army Reserves as a field grade officer in August 2020.
Ron Adams: DEI practitioners have a big job. We are responsible for educating, inspiring, coaching, challenging, supporting, understanding, and influencing our organizations and the individuals we serve within them. We are listeners, trust builders, translators, shoulders to cry on, and more. This job is immense, and we cannot embark on it lightly or fuel ourselves on passion alone. We must be strategic and prepared for the work.
A job as impactful to systems and organizational culture as ours is often met with discomfort and may manifest as resistance. I refer to the key areas of resistance as “The 5 Ds” – Distraction, Discouragement, Division, Discounting, and Disengagement. We should not be surprised, disappointed, or take it personally. We need to be prepared. We must lead!
1. Distraction – getting caught up in terminology debates and commentary that doesn’t center on the issue at hand; it aims to derail us from the uncomfortable conversations at the heart of the matter.
2. Discouragement – constant reminders of the enormity of the work and an unrealistic expectation to have all the answers now and a plan to resolve all objections.
3. Division – mindsets that cultivate a false belief that only one issue can be addressed at one time; the power of collective effort is not recognized.
4. Discounting – minimizing the importance of DEI work and the impact it has on organizations and individuals, relegating it to “soft skills” less worthy of attention.
5. Disengagement – disruptions to positive energy and momentum as leaders grow weary and individuals become fearful or unsure of the change this work requires and redirects their energy elsewhere.