Dr. Thomas featured in SHRM, Advancing Racial Equity In The Workplace

Take a moment to check out our Founder, Dr. Carla Thomas, who was interviewed among other esteemed DE&I practitioners in exploring how to Advance Racial Equity In The Workplace. There will be more articles to come, so please stay tuned!


Please join us for an upcoming virtual event hosted by The Realize Leadership Group. This exciting panel of industry leaders will explore DE&I crisis response in the midst of constant social change. How are we sustaining inclusive efforts within the workplace?

WHEN: Wednesday, May 5th, 2021

TIME: 12-1:00PM EST

WHERE: Online

REGISTER HERE: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_I7NThHLYSS6W3A1P71mDcA

What Does It Mean To Be An Ally?


In any number of rooms in which I find myself, I am asked “What does being an ally look like?” Invariably, this question comes from a place of sincerity and a true desire to affect change in the world. To put it in succinct terms, my response has to do with our shared obligation to coexist amongst a broader range of human experience than we can possibly imagine.

As members of a community (which is all a society really is) we have the awesome responsibility of deciding who is in and who is out. When we say that someone can’t join our ‘club’ (ex. our country, our lunchroom table, our company, what is manhood or womanhood, who is a Christian or a heathen, what constitutes love, etc.), we have determined a person’s path so completely that they are forced to accommodate our self-made definitions or face ostracism, destruction or even death. My advice is simple. Wield the power you hold as a member of society with greater intention, humility and love. Lives depend upon it.

RECOGNIZE your positionality. REDEFINE your frame. REALIZE a new reality.

Dr. Carla Thomas is a scholar-practitioner and President of The Realize Leadership Group. If you are interested in learning more about this and other areas of her work, please contact her here.

Have we gotten more polarized or have we lost sight of how to talk to one another?

As the state of interactions between communities becomes more and more restricted to social media, I wonder if we have lost sight of the problem. Yes, each of us has different views on important issues, sometimes wildly disparate views. Yes, each of us comes from a place of moral certainty about our perspectives. However, we exist in a broader society. That isn’t likely to change. We are interconnected whether we like it or not. So– we are at a crossroads. How do we navigate from here?

I would suggest that we have not gotten more polarized as a society. We have lost sight of how to talk to one another. The solution is in engaging in dialogues across difference. How we go about engaging in those dialogues across difference requires an intentional and deliberate focus. Empathy is one vital element to a fruitful conversation. Research today is exploring where and how empathy can bridge the divide created by our biases. Let’s stop talking at one another and start talking with one another. Join me in changing the conversation.

Dr. Carla Thomas is a scholar-practitioner and President of The Realize Leadership Group. If you are interested in learning more about this and other areas of her work, please contact her here.

What’s the ROI on Workforce Development?


Everywhere we look, there is an increase in learning and development funding and yet historically, it’s the first business area to see budget cuts in times of crisis. So, how do you quantify the return on investment for learning and development? Better yet, how do you make the business case for a clear and continued focus on talent development in a pay-for-performance based market? The key is in the data.

Learning Analytics- Work Smarter

Big data continues to be a huge buzz word in the industry and yet few understand it’s power and applicability. The goal is to define relationships between massive quantities of information in order to drive more informed decision-making. In the talent world, how do I know what is the safest bet for my resources? Time and again, we fail to attach metrics to the learning impact. However, once the connection is made, there are no limits on where direct value can emerge.

Learning leaders could use big data to show that application and impact are lower for employees with poor supervisors who don’t reinforce learning. We already know this. But can you imagine using big data to show the importance of identifying the right target audience?” – David Vance (Chief Learning Officer, 2016)

Retention Strategy- It’s Time to Ramp Up

In the years ahead, Millennials will be the largest workforce leadership population around the globe and yet two-thirds of them have expressed a desire to leave their organization by 2020 (Deloitte Millennial Survey, 2016). One of the major drivers of employee engagement and loyalty lies in leadership development. Professional training and development remains one of the main criteria for this massive talent pool (Fortune Magazine, 2017). Not only is it time to invest in a long-term retention strategy, it’s also the time to think through a more effective leadership talent pipeline. A sufficient succession planning approach won’t emerge overnight and the time has passed to see the need for critical workforce investment.

Mature companies spend 34% more on training and development than their less mature counterparts (Bersin, 2014). These high impact learning organizations earn a profit growth 3X that of their competitors – (Bersin by Deloitte, 2012)

Increase Development = Increase Profit

Extending training programs will reach your customer base. The more personalized and collaborative the learning experience, the more likely that you can reinforce a culture of innovation within your organizations. It has been proven time and again that the most successful companies are able to present knowledgeable and engaged client-facing employees. This results in customer and employee loyalty while also improving trust.

Your employees are the face of your corporate brand, no matter the industry. How can you begin to help align your marketing approach with the other processes and procedures that exist within your company? An assessment of current state can start you towards a path of evidence-based, strategic decisions in managing your talent.

Dr. Carla Thomas is a scholar-practitioner and President of The Realize Leadership Group. If you are interested in learning more about this and other areas of her work, please contact her here.

Americans See Advantages and Challenges in Country’s Growing Racial and Ethnic Diversity


Check out the latest research regarding perceptions of diversity in the United States!


Use of Self & The Future of Organizational Development: Diversity in Practice

diversity_lightspring_sstock.jpgTo pull a headline from any article in any major newspaper is to put an image to our nation’s conflict. It is never more apparent than when this turmoil impacts our everyday spaces, workplaces and private interactions. In many discussions, bias has emerged as a key driver of social conflict that has spilled into everything from consumer experience to corporate social responsibility. As OD practitioners, the impact of bias is frequently a symptom reflected in workplace and strategic initiatives. The scope and complexity of bias is that it inserts itself into each and every one of our human interactions. Researchers have argued that the pervasive nature of bias is rooted in how the brain creates associations with our own lived experience. Social cognition happens intentionally (explicit bias) and unintentionally (implicit bias). Associations manifest in ways that we cannot escape as they are how we come to understand our world.

As OD Practitioners it is incumbent upon us to understand the use of self in our work. Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) touches all areas under our sphere of influence. Our work involves the lived experience of others, whether it is through talent management, leadership development, culture transformation, strategy, or any other form of organizational intervention. We cannot afford to overlook our responsibility to recognize and contribute to the work being done in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion practices.

Companies across the U.S. are struggling to make sense of how to mitigate the negative effects of bias by creating strategic approaches to enable healthy and productive work environments. As someone once said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Fortunately, OD practitioners have access to the tools and methods that can impact both culture and strategy. It’s time to start thinking about what to do with these tools at our disposal in ways that address bias more directly. As an OD practitioner, where do we start? First, it begins with self-awareness. As practitioners and individuals, we need to understand what we “bring into the room.” Then I would suggest asking the right questions:

Examine your current employee lifecycle through an inclusive lens

  1. Entry: What do our recruiting practices reflect? Where are we sourcing candidates from? How diverse are our hiring committees?
  2. Retention: What does an employee see on a daily basis that reinforces that their unique perspectives matter? How do we treat the dissenting voice? How do we reward appropriate behaviors?
  3. Succession-planning/Talent Management: Do our identified group of high-potentials represent diverse backgrounds? Are we creating appropriate opportunities for career advancement that don’t call into question our values (e.g. work-life balance, parent-friendly policy, etc.)?
  4. Leadership Development: Do we conduct regular bias training? Is this training compliance-driven or meant to build awareness around these issues? How do we measure success in our training around diversity, equity, and inclusion?
  5. Exit: What are the leading causes for the departure of our diverse workforce populations? Have we done our due diligence in the first 3, 6, or 9 months of employment? How often do we revisit our DEI strategy?

Over the next several months, I will delve more deeply into each of these issues, in the meantime, I welcome others to share their own approaches in the comments section.


Becoming A Destination Employer: 4 Steps to Realizing A Recruitment & Retention Strategy

No matter the industry, everyone is competing for the best talent. Organizational culture is a leading competitive advantage and yet only 12% of CEOs believe that they are driving the right culture (Deloitte, 2015). In many ways, companies struggle to define what their culture is, let alone how to move the needle. Why not take the time to learn how to do it better?

1. Do what you have to until you can do what you want to. 

Invariably, employers are wary of taking an honest look at themselves. No matter how broken the culture, many are wary of taking a deeper dive into the gaps between values and behaviors, policies and process. Those distinctions are at the heart of an organization’s success or failure. They drive the culture of an environment and, ultimately, the performance. An effective assessment of the good, the bad, and the ugly is the necessary starting point for strategic cultural change.

2. “The only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture.”– Edgar Schein

Cultural change is bigger than the HR Department. If leaders aren’t aligned with change, large or small, it will not be sustainable. Studies show that in a turbulent work environment, leader integrity offers stability, drives a willingness to adapt with change and improves overall effectiveness of an organization. (Leroy, Palanski, & Simons, 2012). Helping leaders to understand their role and impact within a culture will allow it to shift more easily. Enabling these leaders as change agents will reinforce the behavior adoptions to come.

3. What does this mean to me? 

Communication isn’t just about creating a coherent message, it’s about addressing the concerns of those experiencing change. Culture change is an ongoing, iterative process. Those involved will always question where they fit into the equation and their opinions should be heard. The goal of effective communication is to create advocates across an organization, not just stakeholders who are passively experiencing these changes.

4. Learning is not an afterthought.

Learning is an ongoing assessment of transformation. If the goal is to come to the right organizational culture, understand that it’s an evolution, not a destination. Be prepared to make mistakes and be willing to learn from them. Employees aspire to grow their individual skills and appreciate environments that foster that development.

Becoming a destination employer requires a willingness to evaluate how your organization looks, feels, and operates. Developing stronger leaders, reinforcing behaviors, and examining processes are the building blocks of realizing an organization’s culture. Now is the time to start recognizing a strategic talent approach, redefining your company’s goals and realizing your true potential. Start with this- what would you like to achieve within your organization and how does a defined culture get you there?

Leroy, H., Palanski, M. E., Simons, T. (2012). Authentic Leadership and Behavioral Integrity as Drivers of Follower Commitment and Performance. Journal of Business Ethics. Vol. 107, No. 3. 255-264.

The Realize Leadership Group is a human capital consulting firm that connects our clients with the full breadth of cutting edge insight and tools to face the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Our role is to help organizations RECOGNIZE, REDEFINE, and REALIZE the leadership that they will need to enable success. For additional information, please contact realizeleadership@gmail.com or visit http://www.realizeleadership.com


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