Get Clear on How Organization Change Happens

A Decade in the Making Series Part Four

In honor of our 11th anniversary, we are publishing sections from A Decade in the Making: ProInspire’s Lessons on Leadership and Equity to share our journey on this blog. Below you will find our fourth blog in the series and our second lesson: Get Clear on How Organization Change Happens. To learn more about our learnings from 2019 and areas of work for 2020, register for ProInspire’s 2020 Impact Call on March 11th from 12:00- 1:00pm EST. This call will give the ProInspire community the chance to engage directly with our team and hear more about our exciting future.

Lesson Two: Get Clear on How Organization Change Happens

Through an ongoing process of learning and adapting, we have gained insight on how our work can and cannot support organizational change. Change at this level will not happen solely by bringing in new people (as was our approach with the ProInspire Fellowship), or through trainings (which continue to be an important aspect of our work). While new talent and ongoing training can support change, a deeper commitment from multiple stakeholders and across functions is necessary to create lasting systemic change.

We have supported leaders and organizations through several types of change, from creating a shared work culture to adopting new strategic plans to advancing race equity.

Across these efforts, our work has surfaced four key insights about how to effect change:


A strong organizational culture builds trust that can carry an organization and its members through even the most difficult change processes. Creating the conditions for strong culture, including a shared sense of purpose, collective investment in organizational outcomes, and respect for all voices and perspectives, requires an intentional approach. With that understanding, over time we have expanded our work supporting teams and organizations with retreats and custom trainings focused on building shared language, tools, and culture.


Training can be a catalyst, but real, lasting change requires aligning on new ways of working, shifting norms, and holding accountability. That’s why ProInspire’s Race Equity and Leadership program incorporates multiple elements to support change processes that shift culture and advance race equity. The program builds awareness and knowledge on the four levels on which racism operates, provides tools, fosters opportunities for collaboration and courageous conversation, and identifies meaningful next steps with action plans. While the in-program element includes a series of workshops and retreats, the substantive work of shifting culture happens over time through coaching, action plans, and follow-up.

“We need to acknowledge that dismantling centuries-old systems of oppression is not going to happen overnight. It’s not going to happen in one day, or one month, or one year. This is work that we are committed to for our entire lives.”

– Megan Grimaldi, Member of The ProInspire Network


A consistent piece of feedback we hear across our leadership programs is from young leaders who feel their senior teams need the same training. We have responded to this trend in a few ways. For example, we added leadership programs on trust, influencing others, and courageous conversations to equip young leaders with the skills required to work with senior leaders to promote change. In our learning communities to advance race equity, we focus on teams that cut across levels so that young leaders have a bigger voice in this work.


While we believe that individuals can lead and create impact at all levels, advocacy and action from senior leaders are critical for organizational change, particularly around race equity. Senior leaders must articulate the “why,” acknowledge the work they need to do individually, gain buy-in from staff, and hold accountability for action, both personally and among the staff Senior leaders are a key lever in the Race Equity Cycle, reflecting the importance of their role.

This is the fourth of a series of blogs from A Decade in the Making: ProInspire’s Lessons on Leadership and EquityCheck out the other blogs in the series:

Sign up for Our Newsletter

Receive occasional updates on program opportunities, convenings, resources, and other news on leadership and equity.

Please leave blank if you are not affiliated with an organization.