Inspiring Leadership with Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence

Posts tagged ‘business case for diversity’

How Does Your Organization Respond to Trends: Proactive or Reactive?

By Leah Smiley

Analyzing diversity and inclusion trends should be a key component of your organization’s growth and development. Trends consider data, such as demographic projections, buying patterns, attendance rates, utilization reports, and other statistics in the past, present and future. As with all things in the diversity and inclusion space, it helps to understand trends better from a financial perspective.

Investopedia defines a trend as “the general direction of a market or of the price of an asset. Trends can vary in length from short, to intermediate, to long term. As a general strategy, it is best to trade with trends, meaning that if the general trend of the market is headed up, you should be very cautious about taking any positions that rely on the trend going in the opposite direction.”

Most of you know that the Society for Diversity defines diversity as an asset. An asset can be characterized as a resource that brings value to an organization. These “assets” can be your employees, students, constituents, citizens, senior executives, customers, board members, volunteers, grantmakers, shareholders, investors, or other forms of human capital. The assets just happen to have unique dimensions such as varying ages, races, genders, economic statuses, geographic locations, educational levels, backgrounds, employment histories, family statuses, interests, preferences, and other distinctions. Assets are not uni-dimensional (i.e., defined by race or gender alone); there are an infinite number of ways in which assets can be different.

Viewing diversity as an asset means that each individual is valuable– whether white, black, purple or green. The more assets that an organization attracts and retains, the greater its ability to grow, innovate, compete, and experience additional benefits.

Fortune ranked 14 tech companies from most diverse to least, assigning points based on how these companies ranked in five categories: overall gender diversity, overall ethnic diversity, gender diversity of the leadership team, ethnic diversity of the leadership team, and gender diversity among technical workers. Fortune found that the top 3 businesses were:  LinkedIn, Apple and eBay (in that order). It’s no surprise that:

  • Of the social networking companies, LinkedIn’s stock is trading around $230 per share (according to the New York Stock Exchange – NYSE at 9:00am today)
  • Apple is projected to be the first trillion dollar company (according to Forbes)
  • eBay is experiencing such phenomenal growth that when it acquired PayPal 12 years ago, PayPal only contributed to 8% of eBay’s revenue. Fast forward to 2014– now PayPal contributes to nearly 50% of eBay’s revenue, with an estimated $40 billion valuation (according to Bidness ETC)

The point that I’m making is that the ability to tap various market segments around the world is directly tied to a team’s strength in identifying, cultivating, and engaging more assets than your competitors. Keep in mind, that globalization makes all of this growth and development possible, and the effect of globalization locally is diversity. Therefore, diversity and inclusion is not a trend– it is a concept to help you do business better in accordance with the trends of increased competition, high-touch customer expectations, and continual product evolution.

From this perspective, you can look at diversity and inclusion as a vehicle to analyze your organization’s path and compare it to the overall direction of the market.  In keeping with that, there are several things that we should be aware of:

1.  Diversity must play a huge role in your global strategy for growth, innovation, cost savings, and talent management.

Bruce Levenson, managing partner of the Atlanta Hawks, was not wrong in his e-mails about diversity and its impact on season ticket sales. After all, he did increase revenue after those “inappropriate and offensive” messages. In my opinion, he went wrong when he viewed the potential for growth from a limited perspective. While it is true that the environment, music and activities must appeal to an audience broader than “black” folks, White people are not the only individuals who can purchase season tickets. This brings me to point #2.

2.  Stop relegating diversity to a discussion about “black and white”.

Smart organizations are finding ways to leverage different nationalities, generations, genders, sexual orientations, religions, economic statuses, geographic locations, and more, in their efforts to drive stronger business results.

To change the context of the conversation, use non-traditional examples of diversity. Not only is it less “inappropriate and offensive” but it may help to get the point across better.

3.  Diversity leadership requires an approach that is consistent with the times.

Currently, organizations around the globe believe that including women is a game changer.

For example, France has a gender quota requirement for its large corporate boards. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan recently unveiled a reshuffled cabinet that includes five women– an apparent nod toward his promises to revive Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, by more fully unleashing the potential of its huge pool of highly educated women. And according to CNN, the Center for American Progress and the Center for Economic and Policy Research recently released a report, which was partially funded by the Department of Labor, finding that if women worked at 1979 levels, the U.S. economy would have lost over $1.7 trillion in economic output in 2012. That amount – $1.7 trillion dollars – is roughly the GDP of Canada.

When you take advantage of the times, you can seize more opportunities. But before you leap, see point #4.

4.  Never forget that diversity is a fast moving target. If you are going to compete effectively in this arena, you must be proactive.

For an example of ‘reactive’, go back and read what happened in Ferguson, Missouri.

An example of a fast-moving target is the LGBT community. Look at what has happened over the last few years with public opinions, gay marriage, and equal taxation in the U.S. alone.

Here’s the issue with diversity: it is a slow-moving beast. It may seem like things happen quickly, but the breaking point or the break-through took a lot of time, and even more effort.

Proactive, by definition, means that a person, policy or action “creates or controls a situation by causing something to happen rather than responding to it after it has happened.”

Therefore, the question of the day is, how will your organization respond?

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Leah Smiley is the President of the Society for Diversity, the #1 and largest professional association for diversity and inclusion. For more information about the Society for Diversity, log onto http://www.societyfordiversity.org

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Realizing the Pledge’s Potential: America’s Blueprint for Law and Order

By Leah Smiley, CDE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by Francis Bellamy, who was a Christian socialist, according to Wikipedia. Bellamy had initially considered using the words equality and fraternity but decided against it – knowing that the state superintendents of education were against equality for women and African Americans.

Bellamy’s original Pledge read as follows:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

In 1923, the National Flag Conference called for the words “my Flag” to be changed to “the Flag of the United States”, so that new immigrants would not confuse loyalties between their birth countries and the United States. The words “of America” were added a year later, while “God” was added in 1954.

Since the conception of this ‘Pledge’, diversity has been a forethought, not an after-thought. The creators realized that it’s possible to be different while united. Fast forward more than one century later, America is finding that no one thing divides this Republic like the concept of ‘justice’. From O.J. Simpson to Trayvon Martin to Michael Brown, America practically splits down traditional racial lines when these subjects come up. What is interesting is that race and justice is an issue that just won’t go away. The problem is that once America becomes more demographically diverse, we will see more issues pertaining to race and justice– IF we do not take action now.

Ethnifacts, population researchers, say the “tipping point” has already happened in America. According to these researchers, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that 37.7% of the population checked Hispanic, Asian and African-American on the latest census count. But that figure excludes any multi-racial groups, which would bump the multicultural population up to 49.9% as of 2010. Ethnifacts researchers also “found multicultural majorities in the following states: Arizona (58.54 percent), California (75.10 percent), District of Columbia (76.06 percent), Florida (57.43 percent), Georgia (58.46 percent), Hawaii (89.61 percent), Maryland (59.22 percent), New Mexico (76.16 percent), Nevada (64.52 percent) and Texas (69.41 percent).”

Some assume that you can move away from diversity (e.g., the concept of “White Flight” or relocating one’s corporate headquarters), and avoid the problems of multicultural communities altogether. But for those left behind, a different reality sets in. A demographic disparity occurs when different population groups are not represented in the demographic make-up of decision makers, or those in authority. Demographic disparities can affect the balance of power, the allocation of resources, and the perception of equality or fairness. Within communities, a demographic disparity can be great or slight—depending on population growth, the composition of the population, and the quality of life, to name a few. Generally, when there is more diversity, there are greater opportunities for disparities to occur in education, housing, criminal justice, and even, media reporting, to name a few.

Demographic changes, in areas where there is “more diversity” such as in Michigan, Massachusetts, Missouri, and New York, are causing local governments to re-evaluate diversity amongst its police force. This is a big issue that is very complex. Nevertheless, I will try to encapsulate the essence of the matter in a blog. Here’s what police departments need to determine:

A. What is the extent of the problem?
First, what do the numbers say? What did the population look like 20 years ago, what does it look like today, and what will it look like in the next 20 years? What “stereotypes” exist about different groups in the community? What other unconscious biases might exist? How do stereotypes and unconscious biases affect community-police relations and the perception of fairness? What other trends are evident based on the population changes? What is the specific problem? What data, lawsuits or case studies support the fact that a problem exists? How will this issue hurt the city’s/town’s image if these issues are not addressed? What else will be a negative repercussion if changes are not made?

Once the extent of the problem is determined, it is necessary to take proactive, decisive action.

B. Beyond training, how can solutions be embedded in day-to-day practices?
Sometimes, diversity training is viewed as a panacea—a cure for all ills pertaining to diversity problems. The reality is that diversity interventions would be much more effective if they were connected to organizational goals, and embedded in day-to-day practices. This is where diversity officers, human resources, front-line supervisors, and leadership can work together and find specific examples of how to apply cultural competence, inclusion, equity, and fairness. The expectation is that supervisors– not diversity trainers– would lead discussions about best practices for engaging diverse communities. The reasoning behind this is that law enforcement often has its own culture, and what better way to empower an “insider” to expedite change than to include them in the training design, content, facilitation and application.

C. Who can hold police departments accountable for change?
Step #1. When we talk about accountability, the first thing that we want to be mindful of is that accountability begins with the community. Officers should be accountable to the people whom they are responsible for “policing”. Along with the discussion about accountability, there needs to be something called a “relationship”. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, a relationship is “the way in which two or more people are connected. It includes how individuals or groups talk to, behave toward and deal with each other.” Building relationships in diverse communities engender respect, communication, and peace. Even if we agree to disagree, we can do so in a way that does not destroy, or break up, the relationship.

Step #2. Diversity leaders and inclusion experts can also hold police departments accountable. Within every city and town, there are diversity professionals who work for colleges/universities, corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies. While the community may not know what it wants, outside of fairness and justice, diversity professionals can help guide police departments through the technical aspects of inclusion, cultural competence, and compliance.

For example, the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion is hosting a monthly community conversation about race and policing. This presents an opportune time for honest conversations about the “difficult history of structural racism and segregation that has created homogenous suburban communities”.

Step #3. Politicians must also hold its police forces accountable. This is an example of diversity being led from the top. Unlike some corporations or educational institutions, politicians must be elected every few years by the people—you know, the ones that live in the communities? And once the diverse constituents figure out when to vote, and how to do it consistently, it will be curtains for all of those politicians who made decisions on behalf of a few. Therefore, stop and repeat Step #1.

D. How will the impact of different interventions be evaluated and measured?
Every good strategy has a plan for frequent evaluation. In “The Practical Drucker: Applying the Wisdom of the World’s Greatest Management Thinker”, Dr. William A. Cohen asserts that “Management requires a breakdown of tasks, assignments as to who is to do what, time schedules, resource allocations, performance expectations, a means of measuring results, periodic and ad hoc reviews, and feedback.”1

The measurements necessary for control are frequently termed metrics. Choosing the correct metrics and making the decisions about them are incredibly important in their use for control, in both the day-to-day and the strategic sense.”2  Therefore, the impact of one’s intent must evaluated, measured and controlled with quantitative and qualitative data to support that change has, or has not, occurred.

Finally, transparency implies that some mistakes may have been made along the way, but we’re going to be honest about it and report on our status anyway. According to Merriam-Webster, the actual definition of transparency is “honest and open; not secretive; easily seen through; free from pretense or deceit”.

Much can be said about nationwide efforts to address a problem that affects 15% or more of the population, and has drawn worldwide scorn due to its proximity to genocide, which is “the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group.” As I stated before, there is no easy solution. Nevertheless, justice is inextricably tied to law and order. And, in keeping with the Pledge of Allegiance, (“one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”), this blueprint for law and order will help America to realize the full potential of its pledge.

 
Leah Smiley is the President of the Society for Diversity, the #1 professional association for diversity and inclusion. For more information about the Society for Diversity, log onto http://www.societyfordiversity.org.

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1 Cohen, William A. “The Practical Drucker: Applying the Wisdom of the World’s Greatest Management Thinker”, American Management Association – 2014. Page 112
2 Cohen, William A. “The Practical Drucker: Applying the Wisdom of the World’s Greatest Management Thinker”, American Management Association – 2014. Page 114

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