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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion… It’s Not (Just) What You Think.

“How to drive sustainable, impactful, and meaningful change for the cause.”

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is a topic on the minds of business leaders and community members alike, now more than ever.

We want to drive sustainable, impactful, and meaningful change that creates a better place to work, live, and thrive.

Let’s discuss how we can…


It’s Not (Just) About People Getting Along


As DEI champions, leaders, and allies, we need to first identify and then sell our business case.

We are asking our businesses to put money, time, and resources towards the cause, so it is important that we understand why it is important to them.

Talent Attraction

In our organizations, our most valuable resource is our people and in order to attract top talent, we need to build an attractive place to work.

We live in an age where information is very easily attained and organizations like Glassdoor reveal how current and former employees feel about the organization. This has created a kind us customer review platform for current and former internal customers.

What is your story? Is your organization a place where people feel that they belong, find it easy to work well with others, and view their co-workers as an extension of their family?

If so, that is powerful. The extra hours, stretch goals, and times of turmoil become a challenge that we, as social creatures, enjoy tackling together.

If not, we can be assured that those who felt excluded, wronged, or marginalized will scare future top talent away.

DEI Value Opportunity: Partner with your communications team to tell your story both internally and externally to attract top talent.

Retention

Attrition is very expensive for any organization. You have to search for a new candidate, relocate them, train them, then wait nearly a year with them in role for proper institutional proficiency. As a general rule, organizations have a 2x cost the first year and only start to see a net value generation in 18-24 months.

From a business perspective, we have employees, infrastructure, and technology because it makes money. We hire an employee making $80,000 per year because they generate greater than $80,000 in value. This means an employee making $80,000 per year actually costs $160,000 for the first year, without including tax, bonus, benefits, and other factors. The employee starts generating a greater than $80,000 value after ~18 months so retaining employees less than three years is often a net loss.

DEI Value Opportunity: Partner with your people analytics teams show the impact on retention created by your DEI initiatives.

Advancement

As we discussed with retention, hiring externally is expensive. In many cases, we will seek to purchase experts rather than develop them internally.

Internal development is a very cost-effective solution to reduce time and money in onboarding new talent. Employees who advance have immediate advantages including institutional knowledge, a strong internal network to support them, and a greater sense of loyalty to the organization. With proper development, these factors allow the employee to reach proficiency in role 2-3x faster than external talent.

We spend more time at our places of work than we do in any other aspect of our life. This makes the sense of belonging and dedication to the organization profoundly important. This is the “inclusion” factor of DEI. When we feel that we belong we will stay, grow, and continue to benefit the organization for years to come.

DEI Value Opportunity: Partner with your talent management and learning teams to improve development and show DEI impact on promotions.

Innovation

The business value of diversity comes in the form of the diversity of thought and experience. Thought is driven heavily by culture and culture is the collection of norms, values, and beliefs in a group or subgroup. We seek more diversity in our hiring in order to get this “diversity of thought”.

Model We Want: Diversity of thought drives innovation >> Innovation drives revenue >> Revenue drives performance

Model We Have: Diversity of thought drives interpersonal conflict >> Interpersonal conflict decreases performance >> Decreased performance decreases revenue

In the second model, we can see why promoting organizational-wide cohesion is so important. Forbes reported that organizations with high-functioning DEI programs will enjoy an average of 19% higher innovation resulting in 24% higher revenue. We need to do it right.

DEI Value Opportunity: Champion employees in completing internal professional profiles showing unique skills and experiences that could benefit other business functions on projects.


It’s Not (Just) About ERGs or Chat Sessions or Demographic Statistics


As HR leaders, what are your diversity goals? We often hear that we built an employee resource group, had 20 chat sessions, and our employee demographics are now X. This isn’t sustainable and if these are our only metrics, we miss the point.

All of these initiatives are important, but they are a very temporary fix to a very permanent challenge.

We know there are certain psychological and sociological barriers to cohesion amongst a population. Since we are simply another animal on this planet, I will use an example from humans “best friend” -

  • Have you ever met a poorly socialized dog? How did it react to other dogs and humans? Most likely with aggression, distrust, and fear.

  • Have you ever met a poorly socialized human? How did they react to other humans and colleagues? Most likely with aggression, distrust, and fear.

Socialization is a time that shows what attitudes and behaviors are appropriate. For our teams, we must first assess where we are with those interpersonal skills. Where are we doing well? Where can we improve?

Once we know where we are then we can work on improving the attitudes and behaviors.

An impactful improvement solution will be:

1. Provided Enterprise-Wide

2. Technology & Data-Driven

3. Include Accountability Metrics

4. Delivered How We Learn (audio, visual, kinesthetic)

5. Measured

By doing this, everyone takes an internal look and can improve together for meaningful and long-lasting change.

DEI Value Opportunity: Use a scalable technology-based DEI solution as the foundation of your DEI program then use chat sessions and ERGs to complete it.


It’s Not (Just) About Race


When we discuss Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, it often becomes a discussion of race which that makes it far too narrow.

Diversity is the composition of different elements or qualities within a group. Under the “diversity” umbrella we are often referencing race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, education, physical/cognitive differences, etc.

Due to our association with one or more of these categories, we naturally will advocate for those over the others, but we are doing the cause a disservice.

Equity is the fairness of treatment and opportunity within a group. Inclusion is a sense of belonging within a group. It is our role as diversity champions, leaders, and allies to promote equity and inclusion for all.

How do we drive equity and inclusion?

1. Include others in the conversation

2. Do not exclude in the fight to include

3. Recognize all aspects of diversity are important

4. Leverage champions and allies to promote the cause

DEI Value Opportunity: As a diversity champion, leader, or ally it is your role to foster environmental change showing what to do even more than what not to do.


It’s Not (Just) About The United States


At the time of the writing of this article, it is October of 2020. The US has protests nation-wide and racial tension at the highest point since the 1960s so it can be easy to associate DEI with the US. We must remember that we lead global organizations so our DEI initiatives should be provided globally.

Why Does DEI Seem Like Such An Issue In The US?

In a word, culture. The United States has a history of being a melting pot but has long since lost the heat to create a singular base. Subcultures become what we see when we look in the mirror and what we see when we look at others. We look at makes us different and lose sight that regardless of any defining trait, we are one.

Why Is It Important Globally?

Our teams, offices, and corporate functions all have subcultures, and that is important, but we need a foundation. Taking DEI seriously across our global organizations provides the vehicle for us to get there.

What are the key factors in global workforce cohesion?

1. Communication

2. Trust

3. Understanding

4. Adaptability

5. Open-Mindedness

6. Relatability

How do we change the World?

Step 1: Start With Our Companies

Business has the capital, numbers, and incentive to lead powerful change in the DEI space. It can’t be simply about appearance because the cause is based on us being more cohesive as humans.

Step 2: Make DEI A Function In Schools

Movies often make light of the lack of cohesion in schools. There are bullies, cliques, and children are given labels by other students and teachers as to who they are. Attitudes and behaviors begin at home and follow our children.

By making DEI a core function of learning and expectation in school, we develop a more cohesive future for our world.

Step 3: Promote DEI In Our Communities

Inevitably, our places of work and schools will not catch everyone.

During an election year, we can see just how many will take to their keyboards attacking the character of their neighbors. These attacks come over something as trivial as the best way to reach an agreed-upon destination.

In our communities and in the DEI space, it is our responsibility to assume positive intent, support each other, and highlight what brings us together versus what pulls us apart.

DEI Value Opportunity: Provide a consistent DEI solution for your entire organization to assess and improve in the same way.


To Conclude…

This is a lot of information but a mere first step towards the long journey in front of us.

Now is the time to fortify our organizations to be a safe place for all. Now is the time to build our organizations able to come back stronger than ever. Now is the time to end the conflict over the differences that are inconsequential to other's lives. Now is our time.

History is watching. Let’s make sure that we do this right.


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