Published On: September 15, 2020Categories: Diversity & Inclusion

Author: Katie Dunlap

In the first session of our Diversity and Inclusion Webinar Series, Jesse Outen, Brand Enablement Manager at Blackbaud pulled from his decades of experience working as a trainer, educator, and consultant implementing and assessing programs for local communities and organizations to ensure effectiveness when working with diverse populations. His knowledge spans a career-long journey of championing underrepresented populations through impactful training, leadership development, experiential learning, and much more.

Jesse’s presentation addresses some rules of engaging in open dialogues surrounding diversity, inclusion, and equity within the workplace, and more applicable, your corporate responsibility programs. Before addressing some tips of engagement, he identified The Four ‘R’ Barriers to Implementing Diversity and Inclusion.

The Four Barriers to Implementing Diversity and Inclusion within your CSR Programs

The four ‘R’s identified represent the four phases that companies and employee cultures may experience when introducing diversity and inclusion into CSR programs if the proper actions are not taken to create safe environments for implementing these changes.


This barrier can begin before D&I is even introduced to a CSR team, with a company or set group of stakeholders refusing to acknowledge that there is an overall diversity issue within the organization. If your company’s leadership doesn’t support D&I, it will be much harder to bring this facet into your citizenship programs and receive employee buy-in. Some examples of this barrier are:

  • The CSR team doesn’t feel like D&I is their problem to address and shouldn’t have to consider making adjustments when creating/marketing programs to employees.
  • CSR programs not believing that there is added value in adding a D&I component to your citizenship programs.


Resistance can feel like the ultimate barrier to employees; especially when your team is pushing something really new. Many times, change at work can be met with the reaction, ‘if it’s not broken, why fix it’? Adding D&I to your CSR approach will most likely be met with some resistance in the form of:

  • Employees don’t want to buy-in.
  • Employees don’t see the added value or benefits of D&I to your citizenship program.
  • Employees are fearful that D&I will negatively impact company culture.
  • Employees are feeling forced to comply with a new structure.


Recruitment may not feel like a barrier because people are still participating in your new CSR program structure. Everyone may be raving about the new t-shirt you made for the D&I component you just added, but you can still feel there could be more excitement, participation, and engagement. Some examples of this barrier are:

  • The CSR program now has D&I components and training, but it has been met with apathy, negative energy and there is a lack of engagement and attendance.
  • You’ve created a CSR project specifically centered around D&I and it has significantly less engagement.
  • There is a lack of buy-in from the culture that typically embraces D&I projects in other areas of the organization.


The final barrier is the reluctance to be fully immersed in the implemented D&I component of your new CSR program. With the addition of D&I into your programs, the CSR team needs to be strategic about creating opportunities for intentional, open dialogue where employees can communicate. A few examples of this can look like:

  • Employees are afraid to engage in open dialogue.
  • Employees are afraid to say the wrong thing or be offensive.
  • Employees are scared of tough conversations.

Adding diversity and inclusion to your CSR approach will most likely be met with all of these barriers at some point, however, it is important to re-emphasize to your employees that while for the majority of the population it feels like ‘if it’s not broken, why fix it?’, for a smaller group of our peers, it has felt very broken for a long time. Making adjustments and crossing these barriers as they come are just a few ways to create more diverse and inclusive engagement programs at our organizations.

Continue watching Jesse’s complete presentation and learn about his rules to engaging in open dialogues surrounding diversity, inclusion, and equity!

Additionally, register now for the next sessions in our Diversity and Inclusion Webinar Series, including customer-led events like:

  • Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse Workforce to Ignite Change in an Industry – McAfee
  • Addressing Employee Needs by Normalizing Conversation of Different Abilities and Mental Health – Pioneer Natural Resources

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