Inspiring Leadership with Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence

Posts tagged ‘diversity champions’

What’s Next for Diversity and Inclusion?

By Leah Smiley

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Twitter hoped to capitalize on its surging revenue growth by adding new measurements, engaging its users, and shuffling its executive team. Herein lies the opportunity for diversity and inclusion. First, we must continue to stay abreast of industry trends and changes in our organizational strategy.  Second, we must become better skilled at helping our organizations to understand complex cultural data about different demographic groups that may include our customers, students, constituents, or potential employees. And third, we have to become more adept at engaging new executive leaders– prior to changes at the helm.

Last week was the Society for Diversity’s inaugural leadership conference themed “Planning for the Future”. While it was an adventure, it was certainly power-packed with great speakers and lots of information.  Over the next year, we want to focus on creating diversity and inclusion systems that support each other. For instance, many of us operate in an independent environment. We may not be connected to others within our organizations; we may not be connected to diversity practitioners in our industries; and we may not be connected to other entities that have diversity efforts (e.g., k-12 schools with colleges, with employers, and with the community).

Not only will this be the theme of next year’s diversity conference in Charlotte, but it will also be the primary focus of our efforts leading up to the October 2015 event.

Looking ahead, there are three things that should concern diversity practitioners:  (1) impending U.S. Presidential elections, where it has become en vogue to pit diverse groups vs. traditional groups against each other during campaigns; (2) political and economic instability in several countries overseas; and (3) the restructuring of many diversity and inclusion offices. These external and internal drivers will ultimately impact our work, our vision for inclusion, as well as our ability to obtain desirable outcomes.

Keep in mind, our work ought to manifest characteristics of traditional business functions, while at the same time, balancing change with reliability in results. While the strategy at different organizations will vary, the expectation for results ought to remain the same. I always tell diversity practitioners that their CEO may not ask for an annual report, but one should be prepared and delivered anyway. Because at some point, your CEO is going to talk to another CEO and find out that you were supposed to prepare an annual report. Then the question will arise, why haven’t you done it? What have you been doing? What impact have you had on the organization? And how do you rate in a cost-benefit analysis– does your cost outweigh your benefit?

Within the field of Diversity and Inclusion, there is a tendency to think that we are exempt from demonstrating measurable, quantitative impact. It’s almost an acknowledgement that we were selected for our positions based on factors other than our experience and abilities. Not only does this subtle ‘acknowledgement’ hurt D&I efforts at our organizations, but it also impedes the field as a whole.

As with Twitter, the future of doing business better is change. What’s next for diversity and inclusion is increased accountability and demonstrated excellence in leveraging these changes. It’s up to diversity and inclusion to seize the opportunities and help our organizations to navigate change from a position of cultural competence, financial strength, and competitive advantage. We also must ensure that we don’t neglect to continuously plan for the future.

~~~~~~~~~

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

 

Former Miss America to Present Awards at 2014 Diversity Leadership Retreat

The Society for Diversity is proud to announce that Ericka Dunlap, former Miss America and Miss Florida, will present the Champions for Diversity Leadership Awards at the 2014 Diversity Leadership Retreat on July 24. The awards will be presented to those who are thought leaders and pioneers for diversity and inclusion within their organization or industry.

Recently, Dunlap reached out to The Society for Diversity to find out how she could be involved with the 2014 Diversity Leadership Retreat. As a diversity advocate, she wanted to ensure that she could attend the retreat in some capacity.

“We are excited to have Ericka Dunlap to present our awards,” explained Leah Smiley, President, The Society for Diversity. “As former Miss America and the first African American woman to become Miss Florida, she understands what it takes to be a thought leader and passionate about something bigger than yourself, especially diversity.”

Dunlap will be awarding four awards in the following categories: Corporation, Education Institution, Non-Profit Organization and The Society for Diversity Member of the Year. The nominees for these awards are as follows:

  • Dr. Shelvy Campbell, Ph.D., Assistant Dean for Diversity, Marshall University, Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine & School of Pharmacy
  • Dr. Ken Coopwood, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, Missouri State University
  • Peggy Harris, MHA, FACHE, CDM, SPHR, Assistant Vice President, Office of Diversity & Inclusion, Carolinas HealthCare System
  • Tracey K. Jaensch, Partner, FordHarrison LLP
  • Floyd W. Pitts, JD Senior Vice President & Chief Diversity Officer, American Red Cross
  • Nadia M. Quarles, Esq. Assistant Vice President, Business Diversity Office of Business Diversity, University of Chicago
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
  • FordHarrison LLP
  • Walgreens Corporation

“The organizations and individuals that have been nominated are the best in their respective fields, and they have exemplified what it means to use diversity and inclusion to better their organization and industry,” stated Smiley. “It was a difficult decision to choose the winners, but we are excited to announce them later this week.”

There is still time to register for the 2014 Diversity Leadership Retreat to see Erick Dunlap present the Champions for Diversity Leadership Awards, as well as attend the keynote presentations and sessions that will provide immense knowledge about diversity and inclusion. For more information on the retreat, awards or to register visit retreat.societyfordiversity.org.

HELP WANTED: Seeking Leaders with the 3C’s

By Leah Smiley

 

The Associated Press reported that the Board of Directors at American Apparel voted to oust its Founder and CEO, Dov Charney, regarding an investigation into misconduct. What is interesting is that we discuss Dov Charney in the Institute for Diversity Certification’s credentialing program, specifically pertaining to the legal risk that American Apparel faces involving alleged inappropriate sexual conduct in the Executive offices.

While this brilliant Chief Executive is renowned for his unconventional approach and scalable business concept, a search is officially underway for new leadership at American Apparel. In a recent Forbes article, New York Times Best Selling Author Kevin Kruse defines leadership as “a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.” This definition of leadership also applies to Diversity and Inclusion professionals, who are continually seeking to influence the social and cultural climate of the organizations with which we interact.

Nonetheless, in “The Corporate Diversity Charade,” John Fitzgerald Gates, Ph.D., a national diversity expert asserts that “the dirty little secret of corporate America and the practice of diversity is that 25 years after establishing ‘diversity’ offices, most companies have not developed a mature understanding of how diversity can contribute to their bottom lines.” Or, diminish earnings and market share. This is evident when executives, like Dov Charney, have diversity within the ranks, but continue to get hit with harassment, discrimination and retaliation claims. According to Wikipedia, since the mid-2000’s, Dov Charney has been the subject of at least 5 sexual harassment lawsuits that are pending, or have been settled or dismissed.

Dov Charney, however, is not the only misbehaving CEO. Bloomberg Business Week reported that last night John Legere, T-Mobile’s ‘way cool’ CEO, made an ‘unfunny’ comment when he told potential customers that his competitors were, “raping you for every penny you have…” Indeed, we are witnessing a transition from a stale and stodgy C-Suite to corporate environments where shock and awe are the order of the day. Yet, here’s where a skilled Diversity and Inclusion executive is invaluable—because he/she can make the business case in a way that senior leadership trusts and respects.

Here’s what he/she could say in a one-on-one meeting, “Mr. CEO, our employees, customers and investors love our culture because it is so radical, creative and fun. We need to keep that culture– but let’s make sure that we don’t forget about the financial and organizational risks associated with crossing the line. For example, when you said, or did ___________. It could cause some people to think that we don’t value ___________, and you and I know that is not true.”

June 19th marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, and along with civil rights leaders, the business community was a vital component to the passage of this transformational legislation. We have made progress on many fronts, but there is still much work to do.

The word diversity implies that there are many ways in which equity and inclusion professionals could perform this work—but we must master the 3 C’s of leadership: courage, coalitions and competence.

3CsCourage
In the workplace, leaders must look to the future and embrace the change that keeps organizations ahead of their competitors. Robert J. Tamasy of CBMC Canada writes, “most high achievers, those that have left indelible marks in their areas of endeavor, have been ones that exhibited uncommon courage – willing to swim against the current, to challenge the status quo, to venture into the unknown with no guarantees of success.” Mr. Tamasy asserts that there are 4 ways to demonstrate courage: in taking a stand, proceeding despite danger, persevering, and acting on convictions.

Coalitions
I talk to a lot of courageous D&I practitioners, and a common complaint is that this type of work is very hard, and you receive little support. But it’s time to change this phenomenon and adapt the true meaning of inclusion, or working with others. This is the only way that Diversity and Inclusion professionals can go beyond the 4 walls in the Office of Diversity toward building programs and structures that are sustainable and successful.

The Free Dictionary by Farlex defines a coalition as “an alliance or union between groups, factions, or parties, for some specific action; the act of making or becoming a single unit.” Could this definition imply that the Office of Diversity, working alone, is outside of the scope and parameters of the organizational fabric? And by forming “coalitions” (especially with critics), the Office of Diversity will be able to perform specific actions better? I’m being facetious, but you get the point.

Competence
Finally, our courage and coalitions must be balanced with competence. This may be indicated by putting strategic ideas in writing, linking diversity and inclusion to business objectives, and using data to substantiate one’s interventions and goals. For example, beyond reporting how many people attended a diversity training session, it may be better to measure the outcomes of such learning.

According to the Business Briefing “Learning and Analytics” by Success Factors (an SAP Company), “the inability of companies to establish robust statistics that clearly demonstrate direct links between learning and business improvement” is a major reason why some feel that learning interventions are ineffective. “Without analytics,” it suggests, “you are at risk of driving your learning strategy blind, and never realizing the results you expected to gain. By combining traditional training reporting with business data from other systems…it is possible to quantify the commercial benefits of any learning activity in real time.”

 

The Society for Diversity understands that unlike the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s, there are thousands of diversity and inclusion leaders. Accordingly, the Society offers a variety support systems such as the 2014 Diversity Leadership Retreat, diversity certification, resources and technical assistance, to members and non-members alike. Our goal is to empower many leaders to become the most knowledgeable, skilled, and practiced diversity experts in the world. And through our goal, we can help others see the value in diversity and experience measurable business impact.

American Apparel isn’t the only company seeking new leadership; the Society for Diversity also wants leaders with the 3 C’s to support us on this journey.

~~~~~~~~~~~~
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.

Tag Cloud