Inspiring Leadership with Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence

Posts tagged ‘Chief Diversity Officer’

5 Trends That Will Impact Diversity & Inclusion Work

Diversity & Inclusion

How are you proactively planning for the future of business?

Last week, I co-presented a webinar about the 2015 Diversity Leadership Retreat. I discussed “5 Trends That Will Impact Diversity & Inclusion Work.” A summation of my presentation follows.

Within the scope of diversity and inclusion work, it is important for organizations to proactively:

  • Understand Diversity & Inclusion from a Global Context
    There is a “Make in India” pitch, a “Made in China” campaign, a “Made in America” movement, and so many other promotions to persuade manufacturers and consumers to invest their monies. Beyond short term job creation and tax revenue benefits, these campaigns point to a long-term strategy for global dominance.

    Sustainable revenue growth is one of the drivers behind the need to do business better in international markets, as well as the impetus to appeal to diverse employees and consumers in distinct regions. Nevertheless, in these global markets, diversity issues will manifest in different forms. For example, in some places, religion, age and income are issues; in other places, the biggest diversity “problems” center around emigrants and women, or the LGBT and disabled communities.

    In Forbes, Glenn Llopis writes, “No longer can America’s corporations hide behind their lack of cultural intelligence.  Organizations that seek global market relevancy must embrace diversity – in how they think, act and innovate.  Diversity can no longer just be about making the numbers, but rather how an organization treats its people authentically down to the roots of its business model.   In today’s new workplace, diversity management is a time-sensitive business imperative.”

    Thus, instead of viewing diversity as a problem, the challenge lies in seeing opportunities that exist when embracing under-served and under-utilized markets.

  • Realize the Need to Offset Impending Labor & Economic Shortages with Women
    “A society where women can shine should not only be a PR exercise (for companies and the government) to demonstrate that they are utilizing female talent. The important thing is to change the rules of the game by incorporating the perspectives of women in corporate management and work style,” Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe once said.

    “International organizations including the World Economic Forum and the International Monetary Fund have long called on Japan to make more use of its female workforce to offset the labor shortage brought on by its rapidly aging population and antiquated traditions — some 60 percent of Japanese women quit work after giving birth. One of the obstacles blocking working moms from climbing the ladder, let alone staying employed, is posed by Japan’s notoriously and often unnecessarily long working hours”, according to a July 2014 article, Female Workers May Finally Get Foothold, in Working Woman Report.

    Japan isn’t the only country facing a shortage of skilled workers. Nor are they the only nation to consider fully-engaging women in the labor market and economy.

    Since 2006, the World Economic Forum has issued a Global Gender Gap Index. According to The Global Gender Gap Report 2013, the authors propose that closing gender gaps is important not only from an equity perspective, but also from an economic one: Research shows that investments in women’s education and use of female talent boost a country’s competitiveness.

    Report authors cite the benefits of more women working: The talent pool across leadership positions is larger, women’s decision making tends to be less risky, and gender-equal teams may be more successful. Countries that have closed education gaps and have high levels of women’s economic participation—the Nordic countries, the United States, the Philippines, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia–are better prepared for global competition.

  • Hedge Competitive Pressures with Innovation
    The competitive landscape has changed dramatically over the last decade. For one, customer preferences are shifting rapidly, placing a higher preference on personalization, interaction and mobile solutions.

    In the Marketing Society’s Forum on “Are We Keeping Pace with Changing Consumer Preferences?”, Louis Fowler, Marketing Director at First Direct, asserts, “We are prone to making the mistake of thinking we can predict what’s going to happen, rather than finding a way to respond quickly when things do. Technology not only enables, but also holds us back as it can be slow and expensive. The answer is in people, not systems.” People, in particular diverse employees, are key to anticipating and addressing changing customer preferences before the competition meets their needs.

    The second major component of competition involves the global context of modern day business. These competitive pressures are not just being felt on businesses. Educational institutions, nonprofits and government entities are concerned about competition as well. For example, Inc. Magazine recently ran an article entitled, “Pushing the Boundaries” by Greg Lindsay. The article highlighted the fact that Santiago, Chile offers entrepreneurs a one-year visa, free workspace and $33,000 in cash to relocate. Meanwhile Tallinn, Estonia, began offering e-residencies, which grants foreigners the same digital identities that are Estonians’ birthright.

  • Stay Abreast of Continuously Changing Demographics & Projections
    California recently scaled back its 2050 Hispanic population projection by 7 million. A Pew Research Center report states that “Under projections published in 2007, the state’s Hispanic population was expected to reach 31 million in 2050, or 52.1% of all Californians. But according to updated projections released late last year, Hispanics are now expected to number 23.7 million in 2050, or 47.6% of all Californians. That pushes the prospect of a Hispanic demographic majority further into the future – perhaps to sometime after 2060.”

    California is not alone. In May 2015, the Washington Post reported, “As the Department of Homeland Security continues to pour money into border security, evidence is emerging that illegal immigration flows have fallen to their lowest level in at least two decades.”  Recent Census reports show that data pertaining to older workers, women, veterans, LGBT, and other demographic groups are also moving targets because of global population changes and the complexity of diversity.

  • Utilize Multi-Dimensional Frameworks
    Speaking of complexity, the U.S. Census Bureau is presently grappling with how to describe current demographics pertaining to existing definitions of race and family, as the current definitions are not as clear-cut as they used to be half a century ago.

    Likewise, in the workplace, using a uni-dimensional framework with employee resource groups, supplier diversity, or recruiting, worked well at some point in the last decade. But employers are quickly learning that using singular dimensions such as race, ethnicity or gender are not sufficient anymore. For example, some companies have been exploring how to create Business Resource Groups that include White men. Additionally, simply having an Employee Resource Group for individuals with disabilities may not adequately serve a company’s growing base of caregivers. Hence, organizations must think beyond current diversity efforts toward the future of inclusion.

In our next webinar for the 2015 Diversity Leadership Retreat, l will discuss 7 areas where you could make more of an impact with diversity and inclusion. To register for this FREE webinar, click here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4193645463497400833

Also, we need your feedback! Please participate in a brief survey on “Global Supplier Diversity Trends” at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DXYLK5B

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Leah Smiley is the President of the Society for Diversity. For more information about the Society for Diversity, log onto www.societyfordiversity.org

 

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A Lesson for Chief Diversity Officers: Unabridged Liberty or Tyranny?

By Leah Smiley

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Working in the Office of Diversity requires individuals to walk a fine line. On one hand, you can’t call everything racist, sexist, ageist, homophobic, etc. Likewise, you can’t let some situations go unaddressed.

Last week, one of my neighbors had a Halloween party and the music was bumping all night. When my husband and I woke up in the morning, there was a straw man and a straw woman hanging on a tree– each with a rope around their necks. My first thought was, “What will my kids think?” Often, they learn things before I have a chance to tell them. For instance, my 5-year old recently learned how to call 911 at school. One day, I heard him say, “Hi 9-1-1.” I quickly grabbed the phone, only to hear it ringing. I instinctively hung up but the operator called me back and dispatched a police officer to my house. For that reason, I briefly thought about my kids learning about America’s sordid past in school and was immediately concerned that after seeing the straw men, they would become fearful that someone would hang them too.

My second thought was, “I am going to act like I didn’t see it. I’ll just be rude when I see them again because I don’t want a burning cross in my yard next.” But my conscience wouldn’t let me repress my feelings. The next thing I knew, I was on their doorstep. When the door opened, I asked, “Can I talk to you for a minute? Did we do anything to offend you? I came out here this morning and thought, ‘our neighbors must hate us’ and I just wanted to make sure that we don’t have any conflict between us.” I didn’t mention race or history; I addressed it from the perspective that neighbors should make an effort to have a cordial or friendly relationship. The neighbor explained that it was all out of fun, and it was harmless. We chatted for a minute and then I left. But when I came home that day, the straw men were gone.

At first, my husband did not want me to go to the neighbor’s house. But afterwards, he realized that the other Black family or the Indian family or any of the White families could have been offended too.

Now, some people can say, “It’s their home; they can do what they want.” And this is correct. But guess what, we all have “liberty” and one’s freedom under the law should not be used as an opportunity to make others feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Thomas Jefferson said it like this, “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.”

Thomas Jefferson used the word “tyrant” because it implies that one who says, “I can do whatever I want” is one who can be cruel, oppressive, unrestrained, and even unprofessional to others. This type of behavior is inappropriate in the workplace, schools, and the community because it is archaic in a modern-day world that values technology, innovation and advancement. Relationship, through communication and understanding, gives people real freedom—not offending folks because you have the ‘liberty’ to do so.

President Obama was in a precarious situation as well. As the first (visibly) mixed race President, he was subject to a lot of cruel and unprofessional insults by his political colleagues, the news media, the American public, and even international leaders. While everything wasn’t racism, race was a factor in many situations. Although he did not respond to these attacks, believe me when I tell you, it bothered him. Yet, positioned as one of the most powerful men in the world, his inability to purposefully address the elephant in the room caused others to view him as a weak and incompetent leader. This empowered his critics to gain more momentum and confirmation that their attacks were spot on.

This is what makes a Diversity Officer’s work different from any other job in the organization. As I said earlier, the Office of Diversity has to walk a fine line—in addition to attaining measurable outcomes. If you address issues from a radical agenda (e.g., that’s racist, sexist, ageist, homophobic, etc.), you may be regarded as a “troublemaker”, “whiner”, or “complainer”. That’s worse than getting branded as a ‘racist’. On the other hand, if you don’t address the issues, you may be considered “incompetent”, “unqualified” or “unnecessary”. At the same time, you will jeopardize inclusion, equity, engagement, and fairness for all. In fact, when we consider the diversity in America’s Capitol over the last few years, the elected officials couldn’t get anything done. Now that there is more homogeneity in political affiliation, it will be interesting to see if they will send a strong message about diversity and productivity.

Nevertheless, regardless of what happens on Capitol Hill, it’s best to choose your battles wisely and address the negativity quickly from the perspective of relationship, professionalism, opportunity, excellence, and common purpose. Even if Congress restricts women, LGBT groups, different religions, various nationalities, and others, diversity is not the law of the land. It is a concept that is good for business; and therefore, it is not going away.

In the words of President Harry S. Truman, “Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.” Thus, how well an organization does through diversity and inclusion is up to the diversity officer and his/her relationships with others. Keep in mind, our work is a global phenomenon with a competitive advantage—ensuring that the most committed organizations leverage unlimited possibilities now, as well as in the future.

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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.

What Every CEO Should Know About Diversity & Inclusion

By Leah Smiley

After 5 1/2 years and more than 400 members, the Society for Diversity is organizing an Executive Council on Diversity and Inclusion. This body of Fortune 1000 senior level leaders will meet quarterly starting in 2015, and provide strategic direction to the Society for Diversity regarding global business trends, demographic projections, benchmarking, best practices and international legislative issues.  The advisory group will be central to the Society for Diversity’s upcoming programs– ensuring relevance to real business concerns and identifying strategic opportunities for global engagement.

The Council will also be instrumental in helping us to reach more senior level leaders. Over the last few years, the Society for Diversity has come to understand that many of the problems in the diversity and inclusion field can be attributed to organizational leadership.  For example, the practice of assigning a woman or minority to the role of Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) without any regard to their qualifications, experience, or credentials. When few results are achieved, the company comes to the conclusion that “diversity doesn’t work”.  Take for instance, the practice of letting D&I executives or diversity councils “figure it out”– a posture the company would never assume with finance, marketing, information technology, or even HR functions.

For these reasons and more, the Society for Diversity has identified three pillars of high performance in diversity and inclusion for CEO’s. These include:

 

1.  Think “usable”

When candidates for the Certified Diversity Executive (CDE) or Certified Diversity Professional (CDP) credential prepare a Candidate Project, the Institute for Diversity Certification advises them to submit a professional work that is usable, or needed, for their job– don’t create a Candidate Project simply for the sake of getting credentials.

Likewise, don’t create an office of diversity simply for the sake of having “diversity”. To avoid this, you’ll need to answer a few questions, such as: How will this position be useful in achieving the organization’s goals? What skills will be useful for a person in this position to get maximum results? How can diversity and inclusion interventions become  integrated with other business operations? How will different perspectives help us to become more innovative? How will our customers perceive diversity at our organization?  Think usable.

2.  Link Social Responsibility to your inclusion efforts

Corporate America’s response to the NFL has been swift and effective– sending a powerful message about bad decisions and unscrupulous behavior in professional sports. The response speaks volumes about the sponsors’ commitment to a growing market segment: women and their children. This demonstration of social responsibility impacts everyone because it makes a clear point: our sponsorship dollars will only support what our organization values.

Leaders must also act with boldness and decisiveness in diversity and inclusion as well.  Diversity and inclusion presents enormous opportunities to capitalize on change. Getting people to respond positively to D&I interventions is not about political correctness; it is about doing what is good for business. You can demonstrate inclusion through social responsibility in your selection of diverse vendors, your contributions to different non-profit organizations, and your support of equal education for all.

3.  Score more points with a solid strategy

Every once in a while, I like to play Scrabble online. This affords me an opportunity to compete against the best players in the world. I figured out how to win consistently. First, I need to seek bonus point opportunities (e.g., using all 7 letters). Then, I can not fall below 10 points per word. And finally, I can’t feel bad about crushing the competition. There’s always the potential that they will stage a last minute come-back and win the game.

In the same manner, we must have a strategy to win in this arena called “diversity and inclusion”. The strategy must be meticulous so that whoever assumes leadership can deploy the same tactics and get consistent results. At the end of the day, your organization’s ability to beat the competition is going to depend on your strategy for engaging diverse talent, your strategy for acquiring diverse consumers, and your strategy for diversifying your investors.

 

Practicing new habits require time to master. However, if you are committed to making diversity and inclusion a priority, and you don’t let past mistakes derail the future, you will find that the benefits of diversity and inclusion far outweigh the costs.

I would love to hear from you. What are some other pillars that you would suggest for CEO’s?

 

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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.

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

Back to School?

By Leah Smiley, CDE

 

My children went back to school on July 30th.

My youngest daughter and son are polar opposites. She loves school and can’t wait to compete with the other students for the top honors. I have to remind my daughter to tone down her rhetoric, because everyone is not used to a smart, confident and beautiful little black girl proclaiming her greatness like Muhammad Ali. She is very intelligent and talented in art. My son…well, let’s just say that he just recently stopped telling me that Kindergarten’s day is too long, and he hasn’t cried for two mornings straight!

Over the weekend, I saw quite a few families packing up for college. One dad, in particular, stood out. He appeared very excited to take his son to school. This image reminded me that there are many first-generation college students entering school this fall. In 2010, 25% of all American undergraduate students at 4-year colleges and universities came from families in which neither parent had attended a community college or 4-year college. An additional 25% of undergraduate students indicated their parents had some college experience, but no bachelor’s degree (National Center for Education Statistics, 2010).

The New York Times recently ran an article entitled “Who Gets to Graduate?” In it, author Paul Tough asserts, “When you look at the national statistics on college graduation rates, there are two big trends that stand out right away. The first is that there are a whole lot of students who make it to college – who show up on campus and enroll in classes – but never get their degrees. More than 40 percent of American students who start at four-year colleges haven’t earned a degree after six years. If you include community-college students in the tabulation, the dropout rate is more than half, worse than any other country except Hungary.

The second trend is that whether a student graduates or not seems to depend today almost entirely on just one factor – how much money his or her parents make. To put it in blunt terms: Rich kids graduate; poor and working-class kids don’t.”

Traditional “bridge” programs tend to focus on academic deficits, remedial coursework, and study skills training. However, within recent years, more institutions are developing innovative approaches to address the economic disadvantages.

For example, author Wray Herbert notes in a HuffPost Blog on “What’s a GPA?” that “Nicole Stephens and Mesmin Destin of Northwestern and MarYam Hamedani of Stanford have devised a novel intervention that — instead of playing down social background — encourages disadvantaged college freshmen to explore the ways in which their social backgrounds are shaping their college experience and limiting their opportunity. The idea is that learning about class differences, and why they matter, can empower students with strategies for success.” The intervention uses group dialogue to challenge students in their approach to learning, asking for help, and overcoming setbacks.

Economic status is a dimension of diversity that is often neglected in favor of race alone. But the ability to create effective diversity and inclusion interventions on college campuses may entail broadening the definition of diversity, and expanding its scope among all students. What will it mean to your office? What will it mean for your students? I sense that “back to school” can open up a whole new avenue of opportunity, and achievement, for everyone.

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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.

2014 Diversity Certification Deadline is Quickly Approaching

The last exam window for diversity certification in 2014 will close on August 22nd. Those interested in earning their Certified Diversity Professional (CDP) or Certified Diversity Executive (CDE) credentials this year will need to apply for the November testing window, in which classes will begin in September. This certification is open to anyone in the field of diversity and inclusion, human resources, legal/risk management, marketing, or in an international supervisory position.

Each year the Institute for Diversity Certification (IDC) has four opportunities for those in the field of diversity and inclusion to take classes, pass an exam and complete a project to earn their diversity credentials. These credentials allow them to establish credibility as experts and differentiate themselves from other practitioners. They also indicate achievement and excellence because candidates must pass the online, proctored exam with an 80% or better.

“Those who have earned their credentials can see how they are better able to impact the businesses that they work for,” explains Ed Burns, CDP, Registrar for IDC. “They gain valuable knowledge that they can take back to the workplace and make change happen.”

A certificate is different from certification. With a certificate, individuals usually affirm a certain level of knowledge by taking a class. Certification, on the other hand, is a common practice in many industries where individuals take an exam and obtain credentials to use after their name upon successful completion. Currently, the CDP and CDE programs are unaccredited, however, IDC anticipates receiving its accreditation by the end of this year. Once the accreditation is put in place, the action will be retroactive– meaning that it will be effective for all previous designees as well. While accredited colleges and universities offer diversity and inclusion certificate programs, the way that accreditation works, each program must also be accredited. Therefore, the Institute for Diversity Certification will offer the only accredited diversity and inclusion certification program.  Due to this change, once accreditation occurs, the price of the classes will increase by at least 50 percent.

Roughly 200 candidates have participated in The Institute for Diversity Certification’s (IDC) unique diversity and inclusion education program since 2011. Current designees include representatives from Wal-Mart, Cisco, Cummins, Eli Lilly & Co., Colgate Palmolive, Sodexo, Commerce Bank, Rolls Royce, Mercedes Benz, Hanes Brands, Belk Inc., University of Miami, University of Alabama, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Indiana State University, Federal Reserve Bank, NASA, US Air Force Academy, Missouri Department of Transportation, Virginia Department of Health, Teach for America, Goodwill Industries, and more.

“The accreditation process has been a long one, but we are glad that it is finally coming to an end,” stated Burns. “It will be nice to have the accreditation for those who will take the course and exam in the future, as well as for those who already have their designation.”

The current cost for the program ranges from $600 to $3,000, depending on the type of credential (CDP or CDE) and the preparation method. Candidates may self-study, take an 8-week online preparation program, or attend a 3-day intensive classroom-based course. There is a 20% discount available for members of The Society for Diversity, and the membership cost is $169. Additionally, companies that send three (3) or more employees for certification will receive a 30% discount.

Two components of the program have proved to be extremely valuable for both candidates and the organization’s for whom they work: (1) the study guide and (2) the Candidate Project.  The CDP and CDE study guides are the most comprehensive diversity and inclusion (D&I) resources available today. Not only do they provide the backdrop for diversity and inclusion work, but the 300+ page books furnish step-by-step instructions for how to successfully achieve better D&I outcomes. The Candidate Project must be a recently developed diversity plan, cultural climate analysis, research or evaluation of current D&I efforts. This usable professional work is peer-reviewed and rated on a pass/fail basis only.

Those interested in registering for the November 2014 testing window can apply online or by fax by visiting www.diversitycertification.org. The deadline to apply is August 22, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. EST. The next exam window starts in April 2015.

A Cautionary Tale: We’ll Let the Voters Decide

By Leah Smiley

A few months ago, I started to write a blog but I did not. I was concerned that my assertions would be viewed as too negative. The topic pertained to exercising caution when embarking on a new diversity and inclusion effort. The blog was driven out of concern for two local government agencies that were creating diversity plans. I warned both organizations of the potential negative impacts, in spite of the positive intentions. Caution was necessary in three areas: (1) choosing a consultant; (2) creating strategic interventions; and (3) handling resistance.

Choosing a Consultant

Here’s the reality. Everyone who says that they are a diversity consultant is NOT. On the surface, diversity and inclusion seems like a relatively easy profession. A person of color or a woman may say, “I AM diversity” therefore, I should be able to do the job well. Wrong. Possessing one, two or three dimensions of diversity will not produce a great diversity practitioner. I hope everyone understands the illogical reasoning here. A person who is the child of a physician, and frequently visits the doctor for his/her own health issues, is not quite qualified to be a medical practitioner. Likewise, a person who has completed 12 years of primary and secondary education is not yet qualified to be a teacher.

Doctors and nurses are certified. Teachers are certified. Lawyers are certified. Accountants and financial planners are certified. Even human resource professionals are certified. Certification is different from a ‘certificate’ program. In a certificate program, individuals affirm that they have acquired a certain level of knowledge, usually by taking a class. Certification, on the other hand, represents a declaration of a particular individual’s professional competence through knowledge and experience. When an individual is certified, credentials are used after the person’s name to indicate mastery of a particular subject.

A certified consultant, or executive, will offer strategic interventions versus simplistic solutions.

Creating Strategic Interventions

An example of a simplistic solution occurs when an organization says that they want to increase representation of a particular group. It’s tempting to say, “OK, let’s place an ad online and hire some people of color.” But this is far too simplistic.

Most of us prefer to keep it simple versus making our work complex. But using the example above, an organization can waste a lot of money in turnover because of a simplistic approach to diversity recruiting. A 2007 Korn/Ferry report, The Corporate Leavers Survey, shows that “unfairness costs U.S. employers $64 billion on an annual basis – a price tag nearly equivalent to the 2006 combined revenues of Google, Goldman Sachs, Starbucks and Amazon.com or the gross domestic product of the 55th wealthiest country in the world. This estimate represents the cost of losing and replacing professionals and managers who leave their employers solely due to failed diversity management. By adding in those for whom unfairness was a major contributor to their decision to leave, the figure is substantially greater. This study also shows how often employees who left jobs due to unfairness later discouraged potential customers and job applicants from working with their former employer.”

That was in 2007. In 2013, EEOC received 93,727 total charges of retaliation, discrimination and harassment. Should we compare years, in 2007, there were 82,792 EEOC charges. I wish there was data on the total number of diversity professionals and how that number correlates to the increase in EEOC charges. It would be interesting fodder for the people who wish to do away with the field altogether.

Nevertheless, an adequate solution to increasing representation requires a little more introspection. First, why is there a need for diverse representation? Second, what do the demographics and statistics say? What is the current and projected connection between diverse employee representation and customers/clients/students? Are there losses from turnover? Is there a burgeoning market that the organization is missing? And third, is the organization inclusive enough to handle increased representation? Are managers prepared to engage and retain diverse workers? Do employees have skills, such as conflict management, communication, and team building, to handle the complexity that diversity brings? How difficult is it for diverse individuals to get into the succession pipeline and move up the ladder? All of these questions, and more, require answers before even asking “What kind of diversity would benefit the organization most?”

A similar approach is taken when one considers offering “diversity training”, for example. You can’t just hold one diversity training session, and expect genuine change. But again, you learn these things when you get certified.

Handling Resistance

Finally, Diversity and Inclusion professionals must anticipate resistance, as well as plan how to respond to it. The largest city in the State of Vermont, Burlington, is a perfect illustration of this principle. According to 2012 U.S. Census estimates, the metro area had an estimated population of 213,701, approximately one third of Vermont’s total population. Yet while the City is busy finalizing its diversity plan, the voters are planning to dismantle diversity and equity in the schools at the June 3rd election.

In Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, the Supreme Court concluded that it was not up to judges to overturn the 2006 decision by Michigan voters to bar consideration of race when deciding who gets into the state’s universities. According to an article in the Washington Post, the recent Supreme Court decision will cause “Those in states without [affirmative action] bans to be prepared to justify why consideration of race is essential for assembling a diverse class.” This post-secondary decision is bound to trickle-down to creative localities in this “Post Racial America.”

Hence, a skilled diversity practitioner will also be wary about how resistance will manifest. The city of Burlington does not have a superintendent for the next school year. Neither does the school district have a CFO. But one thing is for sure, someone is determined to place diversity and inclusion on the ballot for voters to decide whether it should be a school funded initiative. Because the school district is grappling with a budget shortfall, WPTZ-TV reports that voters will decide whether to “downsize the central office staff, ask teachers to spread out negotiated raises over several years, or gut the diversity and equity department.”

So here’s the challenge. You can’t create a one-dimensional response to inequity. A plan to remediate inequity needs to address the perceptions of as many stakeholders as possible. Otherwise, resistance will result in the loss of thousands of dollars spent defending the need for diversity and inclusion. It will also cause decision makers to exercise caution when allocating much needed resources for intervention efforts—which will ultimately affect diversity and inclusion outcomes.

The moral of the story is that diversity practitioners must obtain the knowledge and skill to effect change. We have to move beyond race and gender, toward purposeful interventions. We must also advance past good intentions, toward meaningful outcomes. Accordingly more diversity and inclusion professionals must get certified.

 

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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 www.societyfordiversity.org.

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