Delta – Entrenching a Culture of Diversity

Employees of Delta Air Lines had traditionally attended day-long diversity workshops intended to raise awareness of prejudices and biases in the workplace and targeted at translating diversity into a business capability. To effect a change, Delta wanted to embed the philosophy into the behaviors and beliefs of its people and into its processes rather than supporting an event that allowed people to say, “I took a class and now I’m diverse!”

The Big Challenge

Delta Air Lines needed a method to communicate why the company believed in diversity. Delta’s leadership had four objectives:

  • Enlarge the view of diversity within Delta.
  • Position Delta’s diversity philosophy as part of the business.
  • Defeat the notion that diversity is about “them” and not “all of us.”
  • Proliferate Delta’s philosophy of diversity throughout the organization to create mutual trust, understanding, and knowledge and truly differentiate the company from its competition.

Delta determined that a methodology that conveyed its diversity experience using visuals and dialogue would best deliver the information that articulated the new focus.

 Disruptive Methods

Our Immersive Process

“Our goal was to find a product that would allow teams to come together and be very interactive and engaging with one another,” said Robin L. Stricklin, General Manager, Global Diversity/Community Affairs. “The Root Learning Map® module led them through self-discovery instead of ‘talking heads.’ When people suspend judgment or explore new thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs, they gather more points of view that allow them to make new decisions.”

Another method they leveraged, referred to as “the diversity deep dive,” involved intact leadership teams in dialogue on implications of diversity at departmental and personal levels.

Results

Twenty internal facilitators conducted a total of 200 sessions of the new training by the end of the first year of its rollout.

A survey completed by participants are reflected in the following:

  • 94% indicated an increased understanding about why:
    • Diversity is valued at Delta
    • Delta’s diversity initiatives
    • Barriers to valuing diversity
    • Potential areas for improvement
    • The role of the individual in a diverse work culture
  • 96% acknowledged ownership of the diversity strategy.
  • More than 90% said they understood the value that diversity brings to Delta.
  • 69% indicated improvement in seeing differences in people as opportunities for learning.
  • 69% said they more clearly saw the need to use the contributions of people from diverse backgrounds.
  • 67% indicated an improved awareness of barriers in the workplace that threaten our ability to value diversity.

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Employee Engagement
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Developing Leaders and Managers