Is your Diversity and Inclusion program ready for today's challenges?

October 19, 2016
[caption id="attachment_3510" align="aligncenter" width="800"]Diversity & Inclusion Diversity & Inclusion[/caption]

Is Your D&I Program Ready for Today’s Challenges?

When adversity hits, companies have options. They can sit back and ignore the impact on employees, or they can embrace it, seeing it as an opportunity to strengthen their culture and build an environment of trust, where all employees know they are safe and respected. Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in the workplace isn’t new. Most large companies have formal D&I programs (some that we have proudly helped create!) and many smaller organizations have established initiatives and values that reflect their unique approaches to fostering a diverse workforce. We believe in D&I and love helping companies build inclusive workplaces. Bringing together different perspectives and experiences fosters an environment where employees from any background can be successful, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, generations, disabilities...you name it. And it also helps drive more informed, and better business decisions. When most people think of D&I, they think of recruiting and hiring, specifically boosting female and minority representation, or even employee resource groups and other advocacy programs. However, D&I shouldn’t be a one off initiative. It’s not a quarterly event, or a topic to simply write about it in a corporate report. Diversity and inclusion is an ongoing journey, and something that must be nurtured.

The new world of diversity and inclusion:

Between the presidential election, police shootings and hate crimes such as the Pulse nightclub attack, conversations around race and diversity are frequent outside the office. And it would be naive to think the same dialogue, as well as the stress felt by impacted employees, is not entering the workplace. Triple Pundit’s Janet Lee put it best:
How an employer responds to the emotional impact of that news [police shootings or hate-inspired events] can have a profound effect on the employee’s comfort level at work. It can also be a deciding factor in that employee’s relationship with the employer.
AT&T’s CEO recently set an example. Other companies are making big adjustments to their D&I programs as well to help address the real impact associated with events outside their walls. While each company’s culture is unique, a few strategies are universal:
  • Recognize the shifting landscape, the real events happening outside the workplace and how they impact your employees (especially those in the affected communities).
  • Create an inclusive environment where voices are encouraged and heard. Respect and understand people’s differences. And welcome their ideas.
  • Ensure that leaders lead. D&I isn’t a department. It’s a culture.
  • Drive positive change. Be a spokesperson for diversity issues that are not necessarily your own.
These are tough conversations, but it’s time to be brave and embrace them. Your employees, as well as the relationships you have with partners, customers and stakeholders, are worth it!

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