With the ever-changing dynamics of diversity, Equity, and inclusion, globalizing the workplace is a business imperative.
Many global companies have made equity pledges to advance Black executives within the workplace—not necessarily moving the needle in enacting real change. At BLACK ENTERPRISE’s Chief Diversity Officer Summit and Honors, guests from top global companies were tapped into the power of intentionality. The inaugural in-person event highlighted real conversations with Black DEI leaders and their initiatives to create diverse talent pipelines within the workforce.
“This work is about constructive disruption. We’re here to make a difference, and it’s up to each of us to determine what that difference is,” said Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion at BlackRock Michelle Gadsden-Williams during her acceptance speech for her CDO Changemaker Award.
The Current State of DEI panel invited Wendy John, Head of Global Diversity and Inclusion for Fidelity Investments, and Celeste Warren, Vice President, Global Diversity and Inclusion Center of Excellence for Merck, for a powerful conversation ahead of the ruling ending affirmative action in college/university admissions policies. Together, these powerful women echoed the values of business imperatives, learning, inclusive language, and more.
The following discussion, How Measurement Tools and CEO Engagement Make DEI A Priority, called for CDOs to have organizational accountability. Chief Diversity Officer of Publicis Groupe US, Geraldine White, and Dr. Ella F. Washington, organizational psychologist and DEI expert, challenged guests to explore other inclusion metrics and more.
Thanks to these changemakers, here are five lessons on how to successfully globalize the workplace and accelerate the recruitment, retention, and elevation of Black talent and expansion of business diversity.
1. DEI is a business imperative
Organizations with diverse staff and an inclusive workplace culture make good business sense. We’ve long blamed our stagnation on too few resources, but DEI progress takes a backseat to revenue, profit, and customer priorities when companies and the general public are not holding themselves accountable for enabling negative narratives. For John, her job responsibilities at Fidelity are more than just hiring; it is about helping her company earn and retain its business. That is how she makes a positive impact on the work of DEI.
“There is not enough conversation about the fact that that this is really a business imperative,” John explained during the first discussion. “We really have to make that much clearer.”
2. Move into an integrative stage
To ensure that diversity and inclusion best practices are a business imperative, companies must not be afraid to boost their innovative thinking and foster workplace inclusivity. Washington, the author of The Necessary Journey, emphasizes how important it is for companies to push the envelope in DEI work. According to the Harvard Business Review, the five stages of DEI maturity include awareness, compliance, tactical, integration, and sustainability.
“A lot of organizations are so fearful of making a misstep that they toe the line on compliance,” Washington said in the second panel. “Compliance is necessary. But we don’t want to get stuck there.”
From her experience, Washington has witnessed many companies find comfort in the tactical stage, where they are engaged in executing their own DEI initiatives.
“We want to see organizations move from that tactical stage into a more integrative stage,” Washington explained, adding that this solution will fully integrate DEI into all aspects of the ORGANIZATION’S operations and culture.
3. Fight the naysayers with facts
For Warren, affirmative action in the workplace isn’t about lowering performance standards or qualifications but widening the gap and opportunities so more people of all backgrounds can have equal opportunities. She was adamant about fighting the naysayers, fostering awareness, and educating people about the difference between Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Naysayers are always lurking to disrupt progress, and misinformation only gives rise to false narratives.
“We have to make sure we’re educating people because the naysayers basically saying you can’t do this, you can’t do that,” Warren explained. “We have to fight back with education, awareness, facts, and data.”
4. Redefine inclusion
Weaving inclusive language into the workplace culture allows people to feel they are being seen in an open, accepting environment with less stigma. DEI encompasses people of different ages, races, ethnicities, abilities, disabilities, genders, religions, cultures, and sexual orientations. The CDOs at the summit were keen on the fact that inclusive language matters.
“The inclusion of one person does not require the exclusion of another. I like to think about diversity, equity and inclusion as addition and not subtraction, bringing people together to enhance everyone’s success,” said Sandra Philips Rogers, SVP, Corporate Resources, General Counsel, and Chief Legal Officer at Toyota Motor North America, when accepting the Lifetime Diversity Crusader award.
5. Broaden allyship
The people most impacted by discrimination don’t often advocate for themselves in the workplace. John believes that some groups are used to their rights being taken away. So allies need to listen, learn, and recognize when or if it is appropriate to advocate for themselves or others. In turn, narratives can shift surrounding the fears of engaging in DEI.
“If you’re going to ally, make sure you are allying on behalf of the people who are going to be most impacted as well,” John said.
Source: Black Enterprise