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Managing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

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Managing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

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The following blog is provided by Carrie Spell-Hansson. It is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Diversity Training Then and Now: What Has Changed? that aired on March 31st, 2020.   This interview was part of the 12-week series from the International Leadership Association.

 

We can all agree that technology has made the world appear smaller. Managing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) remains a significant challenge for many organizations. To succeed in today’s environment, organizations must commit to developing an inclusive culture.

Increasingly, companies are working with and managing people who are spread out not only within countries but also across borders and oceans. Managers are managing people from more diverse geographies, cultures, demographics, and backgrounds than ever before. People from a variety of backgrounds must work together— one-on-one and in teams—across locations that may or may not be formally linked.

Organizational leaders need additional skills to manage this changing, diverse workplace. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion experts have the task of teaching the inclusive leadership/management skills needed in today’s multicultural work environment. Our job is to prepare leaders and managers to value differences among employees, external clients, and customers so that everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

In an article in SAGE Open, Patrick & Kumar define diversity as “a set of conscious practices that involve understanding and appreciating interdependence of humanity, cultures, and the natural environment; practicing mutual respect for qualities and experiences that are different from our own; … recognizing that personal, cultural, and institutionalized discrimination creates and sustains privileges for some while creating and sustaining disadvantages for others; and building alliances across differences so that we can work together to eradicate all forms of discrimination.”

Building a diverse workforce along with an equitable and inclusive culture requires real change and implementation of proven best practices. From my years of experience and research I’ve learned that organizations whose DEI efforts has achieved the greatest impact have all found that the initial three best practices are:

  • Leadership commitment– Many organizations have relegated the task to HR or newly developed roles and/or departments entitled Chief Diversity Officer or manager. Chances are they are qualified to create great DEI programs for the organization. I have found in most organizations without senior leadership support lasting change will not happen. Through the commitment of the leadership, organizations can give those departments assigned to the task the backing to ensure DEI initiatives rise to the level of priority needed to affect change.
  • Establish a solid foundation around the commitment and importance of DEI – Leadership must develop a clear position on DEI. DEI commitment requires communication and is an organization-wide change initiative.  A clearly defined position is essential. Many organizations have established diversity committees and/or task forces to move the DEI vision forward. These groups represent all facets of the organization including senior leadership. One of the many tasks they may be chargedwith is to develop the organization’s diversity statement.
  • Metrics for success– The most effective way to help move an organization forward and provide a measurable, long-term impact is centered around what I call the Three A’s: “Analysis—Assessment—Action.” Here’s a look at each element:
    • Analysis. This stage isn’t just about asking questions. It’s about asking the right questions. The initial goal is to capture the issues, concerns, and barriers currently existing within the organization and use that knowledge to develop a strategic diversity plan to address them. The plan should outline the specific steps necessary to reach the agreed-upon organizational goals.
    • Assessment. Generally, an organizational climate study, cultural audits, self-assessments, and one-on-one, and group interviews are beneficial in capturing the existing climate. Both quantitative and qualitative measures of the D&I climate should be used.
    • Action. Based on the analysis and assessment, the organization decides the appropriate proven best practices to implement. Some examples include:
      • Conduct organization-wide training tailored to each level—that is, leadership team, managers, and employees. When possible, separate the groups so that each feels free to open up and discuss relevant issues.
      • Provide data to help leaders and managers see the correlation between DEI and productivity and employee engagement
      • Develop a consistent operational definition of diversity and inclusion.
      • As part of the organization-wide training, include a discussion of perceptions and how our perceptions unconsciously shape how we treat and respond to others.
      • Illustrate the positive impact of cultural differences, an area that is commonly overlooked.
      • Acknowledge differences, define what the differences are, and leverage those differences within the organization.

Achieving a high-performing, inclusive organization is a journey. The DEI expert and the leadership team must develop milestones and target dates to assess where they are (actual) with where they want to be (projected). With that information, they can develop SMART goals for reaching the desired destination.

 

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

 

About the Author

Carrie Spell-Hansson is the executive director and founder of The Folke Institute for Transformative Learning and an expert in diversity and inclusion. TFI provides training and development, coaching, and research in diversity and inclusion, communication, cross-cultural and gender competencies, and leadership and management development both domestically and internationally. She is a sought-after speaker and a top-rated facilitator of communications, management, and leadership courses for American Management Association. She draws on her extensive years of experience in the field, using both professional and personal insights in her dynamic workshops and presentations. Spell-Hansson has been the subject matter expert on D&I for several organizations, including AMA.

Photo by Anemone123–2637160 

The Business Case for Diversity

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The Business Case for Diversity

 

This is a guest post by Troy Mosley. It is the companion to the Voice America interview on Increasing Inclusion to Drive Results and Build a Better World aired October 19, 2018 with Troy.

The Information Age has made the world smaller. Technology gives consumers greater access to worldwide markets in seconds. The near real-time accessibility of information brings people closer, sharing and reacting to the same data across oceans. This “smaller world” makes many feel like global citizens and increases market competition. Consumers are now more selective about purchases and  often choose brands that reflect their values over those with the lowest price point.

Businesses that understand this shrinking effect are postured to dominate global markets for the foreseeable future. A key component to selling in dynamic global markets is having a diverse workforce that can connect with this broad customer base. As a twenty-year combat veteran and health administrator I have studied inclusion, diversity, strategic planning and leadership principals, and developed an appreciation for what drives consumer behavior. In military planning circles it is said that “the best way to stop a tank is with another tank.” Similarly, the best way to sell products and services to women and minority groups is to have women and minorities in your R&D, IT, Marketing, and Operations departments. This isn’t just diversity for the sake of diversity, but a varied team of professionals in key positions with the requisite education and training to help develop and implement your company’s strategy.

Nike is a prime example of how to leverage diversity to connect with consumers. In September 2018, Nike launched an ad campaign with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick as the face of the campaign and the motto “Believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything.” Kaepernick became a household name by refusing to stand for the national anthem before games to protest police brutality and racism. President Trump suggested that those kneeling for the national anthem were “Sons of Bitches” who should be fired. The day after Nike released their ad campaign some costumers videoed themselves burning Nike products. Nike’s stock fell 3% but rebounded to 4.2% by week’s end. Nike’s online sales jumped 25% the following week and their stock is now trading at an all-time high. They had the guts to take a huge risk because Nike’s staff is among the most diverse in the industry. They were able to understand and connect with their consumer base in a way that positively impacted their bottom line.

Women influence 70-80% of consumer spending and make up 51% of the work force, yet comprise only 5.5% of Fortune 500 CEOs. This gender imbalance exists in virtually every industry from fashion to finance. The numbers for ethnic minorities are similarly striking. Blacks constitute roughly 13% of the US population, and spend an estimated $1.3 trillion on consumer goods annually, but make up only 2% of fortune 500 CEOs. This lack of representation directly correlates to missed opportunities for increasing market share in a rapidly changing consumer base. So what can an organization do increase its diversity?  Ah, I’m glad you asked.

Steps to Increasing Diversity in Your Organization

  1. Awareness. What is the demographic makeup of your organization? And that of your consumer base? If your personnel generally reflects your desired base, well done, keep up the good work! If your organization falls short on reflecting your ideal base, read on.
  2. Inclusion. This means creating a culture that values diversity and removes barriers that could prevent under-represented groups from fully participating. And inclusion starts at the top. Leaders set the tone for organizations through what they do and what they evaluate. Minorities are familiar with marginalization; they can smell insincerity a mile away. If you are insincere about establishing a culture of inclusion you will fail.

The military can offer many lessons on inclusion. The armed forces ended the practice of segregation in its ranks in 1948, six years before the Supreme Court ruled on Brown v. Board of Education. Women achieved pay equity in 1943 and were admitted to previously all-male uniformed service academies in 1976 when women still needed male co-signers to obtain credit cards. Today, women comprise 5.5% of flag officers (CEO equivalents) and 17% of the total force. Black generals come from a long tradition of women and minorities advancing to the top ranks since the early 1970s. These achievements didn’t happen overnight. They were made possible by a serious commitment to building leadership that reflects those they serve.

  1. Recruitment. If you are unable to find personnel with the perspectives you lack, you may not be looking in the right places. Talent can be found everywhere; opportunity can’t. Often when we think about recruiting, our thoughts immediately venture to Ivy League or other elite institutions. If your search begins and ends there and you still can’t establish a diverse management force, widen your aperture to include paths less travelled. America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) turn out thousands of minority professionals annually.
  2. Objectives, Metrics and Measures. Establish objectives, metrics, and measures to gauge your success before launching your inclusion strategy. Develop concrete, quantifiable goals related to your inclusion efforts and diversity program. Metric development specifically for inclusion is something you may want to consider outsourcing to a consultant who specializes in such work.
  3. Think Broadly. Don’t limit your strategy to the traditional definitions of diversity; give consideration to generational, regional, and socio-economic diversity.

Technology will continue to have a shrinking effect on global markets for the foreseeable future.  A diverse workforce, who are trained, strategically placed within one’s organization, and part of an inclusive corporate culture will become an increasing part of an organizations’ agility, and strategic positioning within markets.  Diversity is not only ethically prudent for businesses, it is a sound practice that yields positive returns.

As a reader of this blog and listener to the interviews, please consider enrolling in one of the innovative leadership online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching through our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.

About the Author

Troy Mosley is a healthcare administrator by training. He spent the first twenty years of his professional life serving as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army. He was raised in Jacksonville Beach, FL raised in the 70s and 80s in an upper middle class, predominately white community. He has always enjoyed writing, history, and is obsessed with the ideals of American Democracy, fair play, and inclusion.
He recently published Unwritten Truce: The Armed Forces and American Social Justice.

The Gift of Diversity By Cynthia Brian

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The Gift of Diversity By Cynthia Brian

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Teens talk and the world listens every Tuesday NOON PT on the Voice America Kids Network. Produced by StarStyler® Productions, LLC and Cynthia Brian, these young adults know how to rock and express their unique views. Join the fun!
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Do you surround yourself with people who are just like you or are you are person open to the multiplicity of the world? Accepting differences and acknowledging the fact that we are all human is a critical point to living happily in this world no mater our race, sexual orientation, religion, culture, political awareness, or any other thing. Hosts Brigitte Jia and Asya Gonzalez passionately lead discussions with Hope reporter, Zahra Hasanian and Book Smart reporter, Maria Wong.  Is diversity race, skin color, opinions, or viewpoints? Diversity encapsulates how we all are different even beyond the surface level whether it’s our different occupation, passions, or perspectives on life. Don’t worry about being politically correct. Be open to a global world. How do you relate to diversity? “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” -Dr. Seuss
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The Bender Virtual Career Fair Tuesday, 4/14/2015

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The Bender Virtual Career Fair  Tuesday, 4/14/2015
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The Bender Virtual Career Fair: Employment for People with Disabilities on  Tuesday, 4/14/2015  provides an opportunity for employers and job seekers with disabilities to connect online and network from the convenience of their home computers and offices.  The Virtual Career Fair is free for job seekers with disabilities and is open to students and alumni from 2 and 4 year colleges and universities across the United States.  Register and upload a resume today .   Additionally, Employers seeking to recruit from a talent pool of individuals with disabilities as a part of their diversity and Section 503 compliance outreach initiatives can learn more about the event and also register.

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