Hot Topic: Diversity and Inclusion

I would like to have a conversation with you. Show of hands…How many of you feel that your organization is diverse and inclusive?

How many of you have had training on it?

Today we’re going to discuss ideas of what you can do for your white employees and your employees of color.

One of the most awkward things you’ll be hearing from me are the words “white people”. Yes, I know its cringe worthy but it has to become normal because white people are in the majority of roles such as managers, supervisors, and executives. Even the majority of most organizations.

Fortune 500 magazine wrote that white men account for 72% of corporate leadership. 73% of the senior executives of men and women are white. The rest are 21% Asian, 2% Black, 6% Two or more races, 2% Native American, and 1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. This is just a look at only 16 of the 500 Fortune 500 companies that reported.

Most would say that HR is responsible for leading diversity efforts. It takes more than just HR. It involves management and the C-Suite to be motivated diversity leaders.

Why is this so important?

So how do we show the leadership why this is so important? Education. We need to really learn the history of how institutional racism began in our country around 300 years ago. Once you have shown the history of how the white man has oppressed people of color and not just by slavery, we can see how ingrained it is in our daily lives.

It is important to teach your entire team because it honestly isn’t what we learned in school and from my experience, depending on where you grew up, the history lessons varied greatly. My team members were shocked at our country’s history and stated that they never learned in school what we were taught during this training.

So after we learned the history of institutional racism what do we do to fix it? Well let me say in our lifetime we will not fix it no matter how hard we want to and believe me you will want to. If this has been going on for 300 years, how can we expect to fix it overnight.

Here is what we can do.

We can create an atmosphere and attitude of inclusion that creates an environment at work that you can be proud of. You can change your recruiting processes. Are you recruiting for diversity? I know you want to hire the best person for the job. So are you making sure the opportunity is open to all people and gathering a diverse pool of candidates to choose from? Committees: Do you have a diversity and inclusion committee? Is there a specific goal that the committee is trying to reach? Is the committee following the mission and vision of the organization?

Mission and Vision

Is your company’s mission and vision inclusive? That’s a big question. We have talked about company culture before and how the mission and vision needs to be easily stated by your team. So answer this question? If you asked your team members if they felt that your organization is diverse and inclusive would their answer be what you are looking for? Maybe it’s time for a complete overhaul.

I want this to be a thought provoking article. It is only a little bit of information of what you can do. I want you to look at your organization and see if you can mix it up and do at least one thing differently. Hire a diversity consultant. Hire a diversity director. Organize a committee. Change your recruitment strategy. Just make a change for the better and keep going. Keep changing, keep getting better. If you show your employees, customers, and vendors that you are pro-diversity then others will follow suit. More and more companies will do what you are doing. Every little bit helps. Diversity and Inclusion is not something that every stops. You must keep working on it. Every. Single. Day.

Best to Work For?

We’d all like to say that we are the best company to work for or an “Employer of Choice”. The reality is that the only way to really know or find out if you are is through open communication, employee engagement surveys, and a constant dialogue with your team members.

Communication

You must first build a trust with your employees. In my opinion this always starts with communication. That can mean via an intranet for the staff (provided they all have access to it); a monthly or bi-monthly all-staff meeting; departmental meetings with supervisors, managers, and directors passing along information, goals, and accomplishments; or group email announcements (again, the employees must have access).

If you have diversity in your organization, English will most likely be a second language and need to be taken into consideration when creating an article or group emails for all-staff distribution. You must be sensitive to all employees in the organization.

Meat and Potatoes

The next items are the intrinsic and extrinsic values the employees need to have in order to feel safe in your workplace. We have covered these meat and potato items before but a short list here doesn’t hurt to repeat.

  • Compensation
  • Medical
  • Dental
  • Vision
  • Recognition

Mission and Vision

Does the organization have a clear mission and vision that could be stated by any employee in the company at all levels? If not, then that should be your priority. It shouldn’t be more than a sentence or two and should be verbalized and demonstrated from the executives through the entire management team. You must model the behavior you wish t see from your team.

This mission and vision statement is the foundation of your culture. Look at the tenure of your employees. Are you tapping into their knowledge of the organization? It is very likely that they were here before you and have a lot to say. Give them a safe place to say it.

Recognition

Recognition is a key component towards a good culture and a great place to work. Don’t use it as a tool to tame the troops. Recognition has to be genuine and I have recently read a book on the five “love” languages of recognition in the workplace. Not all of your team members are going to appreciate a gift card. Especially since they will have to taxed for it.

Some employees just want you to personally say “Thank you” to them. Others might appreciate a nod in a staff newsletter or department meeting. Knowing what your team members appreciate is part of the solution to being a great place to work. It means you are paying attention and are invested in them. They see it. They see almost everything you do or at least their perception of what you do.

Employee Engagement Surveys

The best advice I can give is to really make the survey as easy and anonymous as possible. You don’t want your team to answer the questions the way they “think” you want them answered. You want them to give you real, straight feedback. The Good, Bad, and the Ugly. It might sting a bit but this is how an organization that is truly committed to culture change will find out the best they have to offer and the worst. This will make you an employer of choice. Suck it up and do it right.