Inspiring Leadership with Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence

Posts tagged ‘diversity management’

Braidio Partners with The Society for Diversity to Make Diversity & Inclusion Training More Accessible to Organizations Around the World

The Society for Diversity the largest professional association for diversity & inclusion leadership in the U.S. and Braidio, a Collaborative Learning Platform, Will Bring Professional Diversity and Inclusion Training to Small Businesses and Enterprise Organizations  

 

Plainfield, IN – Oct 16, 2015 – The Society for Diversity and Braidio, a cloud-based collaborative learning platform, have established a partnership to easily make professional diversity and inclusion training an integral part of any organization’s employee learning program, from small businesses to enterprise organizations. The Society for Diversity selected Braidio to be its preferred learning platform provider due their next- generation technology, which offers easily scalable “self-serve” learning content via a turnkey, “plug ‘n play” application.

 

Brands like the Hyatt Regency, American Express and Sodexo have successfully harnessed diversity and inclusion (D&I) to yield better results in recruiting, learning, marketing and measurement. However, the average organization has yet to experience diversity and inclusion outcomes worth reporting.

 

“There are many challenges to getting diversity and inclusion right. The starting point is to determine whether an effort centers on messaging or learning. Messaging is ‘we value diversity’, while learning allows people to make and fix mistakes. While messaging serves a brand need, learning wholly serves business success. For businesses to truly deliver on the diversity and inclusion promise learning must be relevant, repetitive and reinforced. This is why Braidio and Society of Diversity have partnered,” said Brian Sorge, VP of Client Solutions at Braidio.

 

Braidio kicked off the global partnership with a webinar for the Society for Diversity on the topic of “Diversity and Inclusion: Why Are We Still Talking About This?” The Society for Diversity offered the fall learning session to its 9,200 members and non-members.

 

The partnership will level the playing field, so that more organizations can receive consistent results in the realm of diversity and inclusion learning.

 

“The goal of diversity and inclusion is not to change people – that’s where organizations veer off to the left. The purpose is to change the way that an organization approaches, utilizes and responds to differences, so that it can proactively and strategically serve customers better. First, you have to understand your organizational culture. Second, you must know how your customer has changed and will shift over the years. Utilizing this model allows organizations to focus on customer preferences, the bottom line and their unique competitive position,” said Leah Smiley, President of The Society for Diversity.

 

The Society for Diversity offers years of experience and significant D&I outcomes to help more organizations build cultural competence. For example, The Society for Diversity’s subsidiary, the Institute for Diversity Certification, provides D&I credentials to more individuals than any other program in the United States.

 

For the 2016 diversity certification program, Braidio will help refine the online preparation courses so that the classes are more technologically-interactive and advanced.

 

“The Society for Diversity spends a lot of time trying to be the best. We also invest a considerable amount of effort in helping our constituents outperform their peers in the field of diversity and inclusion. That’s why this Braidio partnership is so perfect – it enhances our work so that diversity officers can lead effectively and continue to get great results,” added Smiley.

 

The Society for Diversity and Braidio are working together on the 2015 Diversity Leadership Retreat. The conference will facilitate organizations’ approach to profitability through employees and customers/students around the world. Through intimate, robust and balanced conversations, the conference will encourage interactive learning and demonstrate innovative thinking in the specialized, yet highly complex, area of diversity and inclusion. Participants will learn simple techniques that they can apply on the job to solve common problems, while saving time and money.

 

The conference will take place in Charlotte, NC, from October 20-23. Braidio will provide a branded conference site, where speakers can post their presentations and other content, and users can collaborate and share prior to, and after, the event, creating continuous and sustained learning. Braidio will also provide a two-hour general session featuring Sorge on the topic of “How to Create Sustained Learning Around Diversity and Inclusion.”

 

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About The Society for Diversity:

The Society for Diversity is the #1 and largest professional association for Diversity and Inclusion. We empower leadership and drive culture change through diversity and inclusion education, and a focus on bottom line impact. Since 2009, the Society for Diversity has acquired members in 43 states and 3 countries. Our members represent the best global employers in the corporate, non-profit, education and government sectors. The organization’s mission is to educate and equip diversity executives and professionals with the tools needed to design and execute effective diversity and inclusion strategies; share information and resources through an international business network; and establish a global standard of quality in the field of diversity. For more information about the Society for Diversity, log onto: www.societyfordiversity.org

 

Society for Diversity Media Contact:

Leah Smiley

1-800-764-3336

leahsmiley@societyfordiversity.org

 

About Braidio:

Braidio’s cloud-based Collaborative Learning Platform focuses on three basic human activities – learning, networking and collaboration – to establish a sustainable employee-driven learning economy within your organization. Our content delivery approach enables your employees to organically integrate learning into their daily workflow while allowing the employer to build and monitor learning metrics. As a result, Braidio advances your business with talent development tools that employees will actually use, at a fraction of the cost of traditional (and under-utilized) training tools. With customers ranging from Fortune 100 enterprises to SMBs, Braidio provides a solution that is affordable, scalable and effective regardless of whether you have a few employees or offices around the globe. For more information, please visit braidio.com or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Braidio Media Contact:

Benjamin Doda

Resound Marketing

(732) 580-7276

ben@resoundmarketing.com

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

 

The Ian Cureton Project

There was a positive energy flowing through my body as I settled into my new office this morning. I start my first day at the Society for Diversity (Plainfield, IN) as an intern. My responsibilities include, but are not limited to, answering phones, responding to emails, and of course this blog. This is my formal introduction to Corporate America; stating who I am, what I am here for, and how I will contribute to your company’s growth.

I am enrolled at Ball State University, with an expected year of graduation in 2015. I will graduate with a degree in finance and marketing. I was a collegiate athlete from 2011-2014 playing both baseball and football. I furthered my passion for sales and marketing by joining the national business fraternity Pi Sigma Epsilon; Ball State’s chapter Epsilon Epsilon.

I will gain on-the-job training that will prepare me for life after the Society for Diversity. With that being said during the duration of my time, I am here to serve. I am here to learn different techniques and skills that I will develop through my first-hand experiences. I will grow my network, expand my managerial skillset and position myself to succeed. I am here to work, I am here to learn, I will do the things you ask from me, and I will represent the company well.

 

ian_cureton

Bad Leadership Validates Unfounded Fear

By Leah Smiley

boogeyman4cvThe other night, my 5-year old son came into my room in a state of panic. He said, “My tooth is wiggly”. As he came closer, I noticed that he had tears in his eyes and a look on his face that said, I’m about to burst into tears. I asked, “What’s wrong?” He said, “I don’t want to lose my tooth.” At first, I thought it was because the tooth fairy forgot to leave a dollar the last time I—oops, ‘he’—got the tooth from under the pillow. But then he said, “It may not grow back.” I soon realized this was easier than I thought. I told him to look in the mirror at the other teeth that grew back. He thoroughly inspected his mouth and began to smile because he realized that his fear was unfounded.

Workplace diversity is a lot like my 5-year old. There are many “fears” when it comes to dealing with difference and change. Some of the top fears include:

• Addressing errant behavior.
People always tell me, “you should go to Missouri or you should help the folks in New York”. But my nonchalant response is, “I like to work with proactive employers.” What does that mean? It means in many of these cases, someone in leadership knew that there were some problems. Nevertheless, they turned a blind eye or slapped the offenders on the wrists until the snowflake became an avalanche.

Here’s the reality: corruption, racism, and negative attitudes are viruses. If you ever had a kid in daycare, you know what I mean—the best childcare providers frequently clean and sanitize the entire building because those little snotty nosed, germ-bots will eventually infect everyone.

• Saying or doing the wrong thing.
The Wall Street Journal recently printed an article entitled, “Women at Work: A Guide for Men” by Joanne Lipman. Here are a few of the reader’s comments:

“What, no mention of the women who, as a result of the prevailing preoccupation with ‘equality’, have been promoted far beyond their level of competence and who retain their positions far longer than is healthy for the company? They hold those positions, and are sometimes promoted into those positions, at the expense of better men. I found the article to be sexist, and unreasonable in the sense that good leadership comes from people who know their business and know how to make the right decisions, not necessarily from good ‘collaborators’. ”

“The reason feminists will always fail to achieve workplace “equality” is because they exhort (and expect) women to be something they aren’t: men.”

“So, of course, now men are supposed to make extra efforts to help even more women displace men in the workplace…??? No thank you. Women: You asked for access and opportunity, then learn the rules, go out and earn it like many of us “privileged” men had to do….Stop whining. If not, do me a favor, run to the kitchen and make me a sandwich honey…”

One person went so far as to say that he doesn’t even invest in companies that are run by women. Online, everyone is bold; but in the workplace, some people do not like to interact with different groups in fear of getting punished for saying or doing the wrong thing.

These sentiments are not limited to a discussion about women, they also apply to articles about blacks in the workplace, or marketing to Latinos and Asians, or including gays and different religious groups. Some news organizations have actually eliminated their comments sections because the reader feedback was so brutal.

But guess what? These folks are in your workplaces. If you think for one minute that diversity and inclusion is not necessary, think again. Your organization’s ability to compete and sustain growth is jeopardized due to ineffective teamwork, lack of communication, unresolved conflicts, and discrimination. The Bible says it best, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.”

• Going against the grain.
Many organizations imagine embracing innovation, creativity, and leadership. But the reality is that conformity is valued way more than going against the grain will ever be. A good example of this is can be found in the black community. Young black kids learn early that their peers are not accepting of students who do well in school, speak properly or demonstrate respect. When I was growing up, I remember the same kind of peer pressure—to underperform in order to fit in. Luckily, my dad wasn’t having it. Since I can remember, he frequently told us, “It’s OK to be different. Don’t try to fit in.”

In the workplace, very few executives encourage, or reward, non-conformity. But this mindset also does not reward risk-taking. People are so concerned what others will think, that although they may not feel the same way as everyone else, they will go along to get along—perhaps smiling, or remaining silent, or even adding a few ‘agreeable’ words. But deep down inside, there is a simmering resentment because they feel forced or like they have to conform. Accordingly, they suppress good ideas, feedback or other risks in fear of being different. It’s not hard then, to understand why diversity and inclusion are so difficult for the organization to advance.

Think of going against the grain in this manner: imagine if Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Winston Churchill, or John F. Kennedy were conformists. Barry Goldwater, former U.S. Senator and Presidential nominee, once said, “Equality, rightly understood as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences; wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.”

At the end of the day, fear is not demonstrative of good leadership for all of these reasons and more. It causes organizations to react slowly, stifles true inventiveness, and suppresses the greatness that lies within. Once you get rid of fear, diversity and inclusion are among the many things that will become easier and better in your organization. As leaders, it is up to us to invalidate those unfounded fears and advance towards greatness.

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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 Data Can Change Traditional Approaches to Diversity & Inclusion

data2Lately, I have been fascinated with the ABC-TV hit, “How to Get Away with Murder”. Interestingly enough, I simultaneously read the Twitter comments while watching the show. Afterwards, I check Wikipedia to learn the ratings data (i.e., how many people watched the show) in the prior week.

What does this have to do with diversity and inclusion? Alot. Instead of simply stating that there are not enough television shows featuring diverse individuals, a stronger business case for diversity in television programming would center around Nielsen ratings and Twitter use—which USA Today also reports on a regular basis. One could also make the case based on the quantity and quality of advertisers.

Pertaining to the workplace, I recently read the October 2014 U.S. Department of Labor Unemployment Report, which stated that the unemployment rate for whites declined to 4.8 percent; while blacks were at 10.9 percent; Hispanics, 6.8 percent; and Asians, 5.0 percent. The question is, ‘with all of this so-called diversity and inclusion in the workplace, why is the unemployment rate so high for blacks?

In June 2014, Forbes ran article entitled, “White High School Drop-Outs Are As Likely To Land Jobs As Black College Students” by Susan Adams. The author asserts that there are “numerous theories to explain the employment gap between the races and a list of proposed solutions. Persistent racial discrimination in hiring is one obvious cause. The high incarceration rate among African-Americans is another reason, says the report, citing a 2014 Brookings study showing that there is nearly a 70% chance that an African-American male without a high school diploma will be in prison by his mid-30s; having a criminal record makes it much tougher to find a job.”

The federal government has its own theories. The Bureau of Labor Statistics contends that the unemployment rate for blacks has always been higher than whites. In other words, this is status quo—no need for alarm. Another government report states that blacks simply “look for the right job longer”. Yet the title of Susan Adams’ article is particularly troubling as it implies that even highly educated blacks are likely to be the last to find jobs—especially if folks are more willing to hire a white high school drop-out before they hire a black college student.

But other data suggests that the disparity is different depending on where one lives. For instance, the Midwest sees a much wider gap between black and white unemployment than other regions — especially the West. In some states (Vermont, South Dakota, Utah, etc.), the black population is so small that the comparison doesn’t shed much light. But in states with substantial black populations, there has been only one year in one state in which the unemployment rate for blacks was lower than that for whites: 2007 in Massachusetts. That year, the average unemployment rate for blacks in the state was 4.3 percent. For whites, it was 4.7.

What is interesting about 2007 in Massachusetts is that the crime rate, in large cities like Boston, dropped significantly. Property crime, for example, consistently occurred above the national average in prior years. But starting in 2008, it began to fall so dramatically that now it is consistently below the national average, according to City-Data.com. Additionally, the Boston Globe reported that “some 84.7 percent of students who entered Boston high schools in fall 2008 graduated in 2012, an increase of 4.8 percentage points from six years earlier.” Note that the graduation rate was higher than the U.S. Department of Education’s 2012 national average of 80%, an all-time high.

My point is that many people complain about high crime, the lack of education, and more, that plague inner cities in America. Yet, one of the best indicators as to whether things will be different is the monthly unemployment report. If unemployment, for example, is particularly disparate, it will likely be reflected in other areas of society. But instead of saying, “the unemployment rate for blacks is much higher than any other group”, the business case for ensuring equal employment opportunity lies in improving the quality of life, reducing crime, and creating an educational system that works for all individuals, as well as for their future employers. Not surprisingly, much of this data points to the notion of interdependence within the diversity and inclusion space where employers, educators and community leaders, as well as government officials must connect their efforts.

At the end of the day, whether you are in the U.S. or in another country, the proliferation of data should enable you to build a stronger business case—easily comparing data points, providing deeper insights, and establishing connections to business objectives. Hence, moving beyond merely stating how many diverse people work, or don’t work, with an organization, toward utilizing more meaningful data to effect change.

By Leah Smiley

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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.

 

Why Employees Hate Diversity Training

By Leah Smiley

A relatively new high school math teacher, by the name of “J.J.”, pulled out a $5 bill in his third period class. He taped the $5 onto the white board and told the students that “someone was going to get the money if they made the right choices and took the right actions.” Everyone in the class participated in the lessons, showed respect, and waited for J.J. to hand over the $5. Nothing happened. J.J. issued the same challenge to fourth, fifth, sixth, and finally, seventh period classes. In the seventh period, one student said, “I’m going to just walk up there and take that $5 off the board.” But he did not. Another student, who was hearing impaired, walked up to the front of the classroom, took the $5 bill and put it in his pocket. J.J. congratulated him and said, “In this life, you have to have the courage to go and get what you want.” That simple lesson proved far more powerful than telling the students what they needed to do.

My daughter was in that class. And after she spent 20 minutes telling me all of the ways that J.J. inspired and motivated them to excel and achieve, I too, came to the conclusion that J.J. was on to something. Isn’t it interesting that J.J. took a subject that some students have negative feelings about, and turned it into a “rock star”?

In the corporate, education, nonprofit and government sectors, folks around the world hate diversity training. I’m just going to put it on the table:  they hate it. Unequivocally. But let’s talk about why the mere mention of the word is detestable.

#1:  The trainer regurgitates information that participants already know.

OK, if you did the same training session for 3 years in a row, it is pretty safe to say, “they got it.” Alternatively, just because the facilitator is new to the field, doesn’t mean that the employees are new to the diversity training experience.

This is where advanced diversity education comes in handy. The field of diversity and inclusion is so immense that you can talk about a different topic each day for an entire year and still have more to educate people about. Every year, Indiana State University holds a diversity retreat for its faculty, staff and community members. A few weeks ago, I did a training session about their competitors’ diversity efforts,  as well as on diversity trends in higher education. It was a fascinating session for me, let alone very interesting for the participants because they contributed their observations, knowledge and backgrounds to the discussion.

#2: The trainer plays ‘games’ that are unrelated to work.

Years ago, I worked at a benefits consulting firm called CGI Consulting Group before it was purchased by Willis. I facilitated over 200 employee benefit meetings– giving workers the bad news: your benefits are changing, your costs are going up and you’re not getting a raise. My boss, who was the office comedian, taught me how to deliver the message so good that when I finished, employees said, “Thank you for such a good meeting!” At one company in Tennessee, things got ugly though. The employees were yelling, throwing things, and mad! It taught me one lesson– never to go back to Tennessee.  I’m joking. When I talked to my boss about it however, he told me, “Here’s where you went wrong. You made light out of a very serious situation. You need to be able to discern when to tell jokes and when not to.”

I share this story to say that in many workplaces, diversity and inclusion is a very serious matter. Certainly, there are exercises that can drive points home but the greater issue is that those exercises must be connected to business goals and training outcomes. This brings me to my third and final point.

#3. The trainer is working to change the minds of his/her participants.

The Houston Chronicle published an article called, “The Purpose of Internal Training for Employees” by Shelagh Dillon. In it, the author asserts that, “the purpose of internal training is to create a motivated, skilled and effective workforce through which organizational goals are achieved.” The problem with most diversity training is that the facilitator is trying to change the minds of participants about diversity and inclusion, and he/she is not trying to change their skills. I believe that if you change someone’s skills, you will change their mind. But the emphasis has to move away from an individual focus toward addressing the bigger picture: how can we, as a cohesive unit, create more opportunity by achieving the organization’s goals? How can we stop contending against one another and vie against a much bigger threat: our external competitors, new technology, and other revolutionary changes within our industry? How can we advance our work with cultural knowledge, skills, and strategies for engaging the best talent and the most customers/students/constituents?

At the end of the day, I think we can all agree that diversity training is necessary. After all, if you get sued, that’s going to be one of the first questions: have you had training recently? But if we are going to get more employees excited about diversity training, we must do things differently– like J.J.

I would love to hear your suggestions about how to create better diversity training experiences.

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Leah Smiley, CDE, 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. For specific strategies on how to change your diversity training outcomes, get CDE (Certified Diversity Executive ) or CDP (Certified Diversity Professional) credentials from the Institute for Diversity Certification.  Learn more at http://www.diversitycertification.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

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

The Check Box Mentality: Why the Easy Way is Not Always the Best Way

By Leah Smiley, CDE

The Institute for Diversity Certification gets a lot of phone calls from small businesses around the country who want to get “certified” so that they can acquire contracts with larger companies. Many of these small enterprises are minority-owned, but some are not. Yesterday, I fielded such a call.

The caller inquired about getting certified so that he could check the box and obtain a contract with a large retail store. I immediately knew that he called the wrong place. But I thought to myself “check the box? Oh no, now suppliers are asked to have a check box mentality about diversity.”

“Checking a box” indicates that you don’t have to worry about something any more because the item is complete. Training: check. Recruit 3 women: check. Attend a supplier diversity fair: check. When we check boxes, however, genuine relationships, measurement and evaluation become difficult.

H. James Harrington, author and business leader, once said, “Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement.” Pertaining to this supplier diversity program, what can be evaluated with a single check box? This is why so many small businesses call me– they are confused by the check box.

On yesterday’s call, because the company was non-minority-owned, I advised him to pursue partnerships with diverse suppliers. But how can that be measured with a single “check box?” The application does not assess: how many suppliers are partnering with diverse enterprises? Who utilized assistance from the procurement office, and what type of help was provided? How many jobs will be created from a contract with our company?

Indicating the quantity of diverse suppliers provides context. But in order to demonstrate value, supplier diversity programs must also indicate impact. Measuring impact requires thought and time though. For many organizations, it’s way easier to simply check a box and indicate that this task is complete.

 

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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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