Diversity Minute: Where to Start Part 1

a large group of young diverse business people talking to eachother and holding papers in their hands in large modern office

How do I begin the conversation regarding diversity, inclusion, belonging and equity in my organization?

In 2015, Mckinsey created a report discussing the impact of diversity within organizations. Overall, they discovered that companies with greater gender and racial/ethnic diversity had stronger financial performance.

For-profit organizations are in business to generate revenue and greater profitability to reinvest back into their company to make a stronger impact. Not-for-profit organizations seek innovation and strategy when working on programs to help the greater good. One way to improve innovation and increase return on investments is through a Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging and Equity (DIBE) strategy.

In order to create an effective DIBE strategy, you need leadership buy-in. Even in a grassroots movement, we need those who have control and influence to see the importance of DIBE and how it can produce outcomes through the organization.

Individuals and institutions invest in companies with the goal to seek financial return and gain. Understanding the view of investors is important and showing the link between the power of diversity and return on investment is crucial. Although a diverse workforce may be seen as the right “thing’ to do, it can be difficult to show investors the tangible results. Here are four thoughts to consider before meeting with your leadership to discuss creating a DIBE strategy:

1. Conduct Research & Benchmark Industry Information

There are several research studies that show the impact of diversity on companies. If there are organizations in your industry with a public diversity strategy. it would be worth presenting that information to key leaders in your organization to let them know the importance of commencing the work internally.

2. Impact to Customers

We live in a global marketplace. where consumers are demanding that companies they purchase goods and services from represent their demographics. Highlighting the achievements and work of marginalized employees can create cultural awareness that can help your company brand develop a positive reputation as you seek to sell to various communities.

3. Finding A Story

Are there employees from marginalized backgrounds and experiences that have impacted your organization in a way that pushed forward the business objectives of the company? A client we worked with had a male dominated sales culture. Upon hiring their first few women on the team. they made such an impact that they became the top sales representatives year over year.

4. Compliance

At the foundation of every DIBE strategy is the Universal Human Rights Act. Ensuring you have a strategy to proactively minimize discrimination, harassment and workplace violence is important. Policies, procedures should be designed with an equity and inclusive lens. Creating opportunities to share these policies through training, education and other mediums, should reduce potential incidents within the organization.

Remember, executive buy-in to your diversity plan is not a one day discussion. It may take time to prove your case. Don’t give up and continue to show your results as you progress.

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