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New Decade, Same Challenge: Overcoming the “Stuck State”

By Shirley Engelmeier and Taylor Vernstrom, InclusionINC (February 9, 2021)

In this piece, InclusionINC examines the fact that while organizations around the country have been working to address diversity and inclusion issues for decades now, the results are slow in coming, resulting in a “stuck state”. Shirley Engelmeier, who spoke on the Transforming the Workplace panel at the 2020 Women in Agribusiness Summit, and her colleague Taylor Vernstrom present research for better understanding and management of this phenomenon, and best practices for righting the ship and achieving progress.

Topics covered include:

  • Good Intentions ≠ Results

  • Broken Rungs

  • How Did We Get Here?

  • Pushing Past the “Stuck State”

The authors also provide solutions for making change happen by detailing their immersive client process that combines a combination of methodologies that has proven to be successful.

The process includes Inclusive Leader 360 assessment measures, one-on-one executive coaching, facilitated group dialogue sessions, reflection time, and the development of personal and organizational plans, which allows leaders to be aware of the gaps in their understanding (“to know that they don’t know”). Through this process, Engelmeier said, they have breakthroughs and realize the intentional work that is needed to create a culture of inclusion, and are prepared to have the hard conversations that can create profound change in their organizations.


Shirley Engelmeier, CEO and Founder of InclusionINC is also an author: Becoming an Inclusive Leader: How to Navigate the 21st Century Global Workforce and Inclusion: the New Competitive Business Advantage. She has been working as an inclusion, diversity, and equity strategist and consultant for more than 25 years. For the 15 years prior to that, Engelmeier spent her time in both field and senior level corporate consumer product organizations - Brown & Williamson and Frito-Lay. Currently, Engelmeier works primarily with executives at companies like BASF, Mortenson Construction, Michelin, and ESPN, to name a few.

Taylor Vernstrom, VP of Client Solutions, Vernstrom works creatively and agilely to meet client outcomes to find the best customized assessment and learning solution for them. She customizes and runs the Inclusive Leader 360 and InclusionINC’s organization-wide, web-based surveys. Vernstrom uses adult learning principles to design a customized learning solution to meet her clients’ desired outcomes. Her instructional design expertise allows her to customize not only content but also the look and feel of client materials. She is responsible for highly-detailed project management, managing client relationships, working on the InclusionSCORECARD and working with client leadership to implement organization-wide DEI initiatives.


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