Inspiring Leadership with Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence

Posts tagged ‘diversity management’

Meet the Institute for Diversity Certification’s Newest CDP and CDE Designees

The Institute for Diversity Certification, a subsidiary of The Society for Diversity, recently announced that 12 executives and professionals earned diversity and inclusion credentials after passing the June exam. These new designees either earned the Certified Diversity Executive (CDE) credential or the Certified Diversity Professional (CDP) credential by scoring 80% or greater on a proctored online exam in June, and completing a candidate project.

Ed Burns, CDP, Registrar for the Institute for Diversity Certification (IDC), stated, “This program has a broad appeal because the skills learned from IDC are useful for diversity and inclusion leaders, as well as anyone else who works in a management capacity or on a global team. Our Candidates work really hard, and I am proud to see so many of them earn their credentials.”

The following executives earned a CDE credential:

• George Braxton, CDE, Esq., Defense Contract Management Agency
• William Coleman, CDE, State of Tennessee
• Dr. Amanda Lords, CDE, U.S. Air Force Academy
• Dr. Salome Nnoromele, CDE, Eastern Kentucky University
• Tiffany Overton, CDE, Rolls-Royce
• Brenda Stevens, CDE, Malone University

The following professionals earned a CDP credential:

• Denise Ammaccapane, CDP, Sodexo
• Alexandra Contreras, CDP, Colgate-Palmolive
• Stacye McCall, CDP, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
• Jaime Penaherrera, CDP, Latino Health and Education Consortium
• Kimberly Powers, CDP, Harris Teeter
• Adewale Soluade, CDP, Commerce Bank

To prepare for the exam, candidates study on their own, participate in an 8-week online class, or attend a 3-day preparation course in the classroom. Many elected to take the online course. “I was very impressed with the framework and structure of the online class,” explained Stacye McCall, CDP. “Each of the instructors was knowledgeable, engaging and allowed time for questions and answers, as well as knowledge sharing.”

“Like so many in the D&I field, my career started elsewhere and gravitated to an area of need for an employer,” said George Braxton, CDE, Esq. “When I realized that I wanted to focus my career in D&I, I also realized that the breadth and depth of the discipline went well beyond talent acquisition and management. After reviewing several certification courses, I determined that the Society for Diversity’s CDE certification was ideal for me to pursue.”

Roughly 200 candidates have participated in The Institute for Diversity Certification’s (IDC) unique diversity and inclusion education program since 2011. Once candidates become designees, they may peer review Candidate Projects or instruct IDC’s online preparation courses. This provides candidates with a much broader perspective from which to view diversity and inclusion—by engaging with experts from the corporate, nonprofit, education and government sectors.

Out of the 12 new designees, one individual scored the highest in IDC history. Adewale Soluade, CDP, Inclusion and Diversity Manager at Commerce Bank, was the recipient of this premier honor. Additionally, Dr. Amanda Lords, Senior Climate and Culture Analyst at the U.S. Air Force Academy, is the first designee to successfully attain both CDP and CDE credentials. Dr. Lords obtained her CDP credentials in December 2012.

“Candidates who obtain credentials will forever reflect their knowledge and expertise in the field of diversity and inclusion to colleagues and managers,” believed Burns.

There is one more opportunity to earn diversity credentials before the end of the year in the November exam window. The deadline to apply is August 22, 2014. The 2015 exam cycle begins in April. For more information on the credentialing process or to apply, visit  or call 1-800-983-6192.

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 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.



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

10 Reasons Why the 2014 Diversity Leadership Retreat is the Go-To Event of the Year


Join the Society for Diversity from July 24-25 in Orlando, FL for what will be “the must-attend diversity and inclusion conference of the year.”

If you need to drive results by transitioning D&I from good to great, here are 10 reasons why you can’t afford to miss “Planning for the Future: Linking Diversity, Demographics & Dollars” this July:

1. KEYNOTES. Inspired sessions from stars like Craig B. Clayton Sr., Dr. Shirley Davis Sheppard, Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, Effenus Henderson, and more.

2. THOUGHT LEADERS. Gain actionable intelligence from 16 workshop sessions with D&I leaders, such as Dr. Shelton Goode, Dr. Ken Coopwood, Dr. Eddie Moore, Carole Weinstein, Ini Augustine, Nadine Vogle, Mary L. Martinez, and Enrique Ruiz, to name a few.

3. DIVERSITY CERTIFICATION. Start working on your CDP or CDE credentials in a certification track with noted D&I expert, Leah Smiley.

4. NATIONAL AWARDS. It’s not too late to nominate yourself, or your organization, for a Champions for Diversity Leadership Award. This national awards ceremony will recognize leaders who inspire, foster, recognize, demonstrate, encourage and promote best practices, ideas, products, technology and strategies for diversity and inclusion to enhance great places to live and/or work. Make a nomination now at

5. CONTINUING EDUCATION CREDITS. CDE and CDP designees from the Institute for Diversity Certification will receive 20 continuing education credits, AND credits are also being requested from the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) and ASTD Certification Institute.

6. DIVERSITY CAREER FAIR & VENDOR EXPO. Find solutions to enhance the quality of your D&I interventions, or meet with prospective customers at the Diversity Career Fair and Vendor Expo.

7. REAL-WORLD SKILLS. Learn how to confront modern-day diversity and inclusion challenges, while planning for the future in a changing field.

8. PEER SUPPORT. Network and talk with the right Retreat attendees from Wal-Mart, Bank of America, Cisco, Walgreens, American Red Cross National Headquarters, Princeton University, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Harland Clarke, Humana, U.S. Department of Defense, and 400 more attendees!

9. DISNEY WORLD & TOURIST ATTRACTIONS. Bring your entire family to the U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 Best Hotel in Orlando AND get discounted tickets to Disney Theme Park and Resorts.

10. DIVERSE EXPERIENCES WITH A HIGH ROI. From Salsa dancing and golf, to the future of diversity and specific examples of how to increase the organizational value of D&I, your return on investment from “Planning for the Future: Linking Diversity, Demographics & Dollars” will be huge!

If that isn’t enough – Use the Promo Code FLASH514 at  to receive $200 off! Hurry, this special ends on Monday, May 19th.

P.S. You can learn more about the Retreat at a FREE webinar on Wednesday, May 21st. Get the log-in information for the webinar at

We look forward to seeing you in Orlando!

How to Handle a Social Media Crisis By Ini Augustine

Ini Augustine, CEO of SocialWise Media Group, will present a workshop session on “Social Media and Diversity on the Web” on July 25th at the 2014 Diversity Leadership Retreat.


In today’s quickly changing social environment, every company should be prepared to handle a social media crisis. It’s not a question of if, but when you, or your company could be under attack online. Even though a social media crisis starts small, it can progress into something that is very difficult to handle. This is why it is crucial that you detect a social media crisis while it is still in its early stages.

Step #1: Don’t ignore it
Social Media fiascos typically start with something small. A customer posts a bad review, or a negative blog is posted. Recognize that this is the point at which your company should respond to the situation proactively.

When you notice an unhappy or angry customer has left a not-so-good review on your Facebook or Twitter page, it’s a good time to reach out. It is crucial to constantly monitor your company page and set a Google alert for your brand. Once you spot a potential social media crisis, try to resolve the problem that is causing it.

Step #2: Identify the Problem
Accepting blame is not a typical human response. While there are individuals out there that will never be happy, consider the fact that most customers are being honest about their experience. Apologize, right away if you are sorry. Explain why your company has a certain policy if you’re not.

A certain company went through a sudden social media crisis when a fan posted a question asking for directions on how he could ask them for help and they failed to respond. Because of this, the fan posted very bad reviews about the company the next day, which went viral quickly. People shared the negative post more than 50 times in 24 hrs. Once we stepped in, we approached the unhappy poster, and provided him with the info that was required. He then posted a positive review, which got shared 15 times.

Step #3: Be Proactive, not reactive
One of the biggest mistakes is not respond to customer inquiries or reviews. Respond to posts and messages within 2 hours. Social Media leaves a public record of how your company handles customer service. A pro-active response tells your customers that you are serious about their concerns and want to satisfy their need. When used properly, social media can actually help publicize stellar customer service.

Step #4: Don’t get Lazy
Once you have successfully managed your current social media crisis, you need to work towards making sure that it doesn’t happen again. For this reason, it is vital that you assign responsibility for all your social media pages and accounts. Either hire an agency to do it for you, or train an employee to do it in house. Maintaining your online legacy is an ongoing process.


Ini Augustine is the CEO of SocialWise Media Group. She is Aspiring Businesswoman of the year 2013 for NAWBO , The National Association of Women Business Owners. In 2006, Ini Augustine was named Businesswoman of the year for her work on the Business Advisory Council to Congress. She received a Congressional Medal of Distinction for her contributions to that same council. You can follow her @mrsmadbiz or connect on LinkedIn.

About SocialWise Media Group
SocialWise Media Group uses platforms like Pinterest, Facebook, Blogging, and Twitter to build stronger customer relationships. SocialWise Media Group specializes in social media management and training for Non-Profit’s & SMB’s.

Wishing or Washing? By Enrique Ruiz, CDE

Rick RuizAs a child I learned to wish upon a star, to heaven or to myself. I wanted many things near and far. I wanted easy tests, a game win, toys and work free days. All of this energy was forward looking with relatively static momentum. As the weeks and years progressed though, I found myself saying “I wish I had done…” My grades could have been better had I studied, my idea could have had my name on the patent, my skills would be more rounded, my relationship would have been better or I could have seen the world!

How did I start wishing forwards with HOPE and then later in life find myself wishing backwards with REGRET? In good time, I realized that the things we do not accomplish are a direct result of the momentum we apply at the time we express our wish. Childhood wishes were fine in the family circle, where parents could help me realize my dream, but as I got older that responsibility was clearly mine.

To be sure, momentum is fueled by our burning desire to achieve something but environment, finances, health, parents, work and a variety of other things temper that momentum. For some, the goals are lofty, and yet for others the goals seem well within their reach. In both scenarios though, many will fail to accomplish their goals. New Years resolutions will have a short life, commitments will fall through, and career achievements will be cut short as “life gets in the way.” As we grow older, most of us will look back with regret for the things we coulda or shoulda done.

The decisions we make, recognizing that indecisions are also a decision to not do something now, have downstream consequences. Wishing attitudes and procrastinating behaviors start early and have financial consequences too. A Civic Enterprises 2006 study revealed that “70% of high school graduates wish they had worked harder and taken more rigorous courses in high school” and the College Board in 2004 revealed that “a typical college graduate will earn $1 million more over a lifetime than a high school graduate.”

The dreams I have are mine to pursue yet there is a price I must pay of time, commitment and resources. To be sure, there is personal sacrifice required so with the help of my self-talk I found 5000 excuses for not accomplishing early goals but not one valid reason. I had to give life to these intangible mental thoughts and turn them into a physical reality. It is personal creation at its best!

One by one I started laying my ideas out and planning the how and when I would accomplish them. There was a broad range of goals from receiving a degree, Scuba diving, pilot certifications, international travel, million dollar real estate portfolios, business ownership and family goals. Money was a problem though as I was poor, even homeless living out of a homebuilt camper in my teens, so these lofty goals seemed distant.

Obstacles, hurdles and naysayers were plenty. Isn’t this what happens to us all? We want the roadblocks blasted and the debris washed away so we can see a clear path. Before we begin, a clean road would surely be a sign of the path we should take. Our trajectory is clear and straight. Yet this too is just a wish if there is no momentum. Where can we get the power necessary to wash away obstacles?

The Grand Canyon in Arizona is an example of what water in motion can do for landscaping on a grand scale. This canyon was formed by the persistent action of the Colorado River as it gradually eroded away every layer of rock, every boulder and every pebble that lay in its path to leave a 277 miles long, 18 mile wide and over a mile deep breathtaking view. Today, it is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Could you and I wash away the naysayers and find our path like a river winding its way to the mighty ocean?

The truly successful people have all worked hard for their accomplishments. They have invested thousands of hours in the living daydream, taken risks, failed often and forged paths where others dared not go. They are no different than you and me. Like water they have continuously cleansed their path, washed away obstacles, nourished their commitment and given life to their thoughts.

Regardless of our age, it is never too late to see our wishes transformed into reality. Neither the gadgets we buy, nor the volume of entertainment we can afford to consume, can compare with the joy felt when we scale the mountain we were afraid to climb. The risks we take in life – and the amount of sweat we invest – prevents any regret from settling in had we not taken any action. The journey and risks we take will determine our level of fulfillment.

Almost every goal I have set, I have achieved (although never on my own timeline). Usually, my achievements are years or more beyond my original timeline, and some even decades later like my MBA and pilot certification. To be sure, I have failed a lot too but have become ever more wiser in the process.

As the inevitable time comes to bid farewell to our earthly existence, the strength of the memories we create now will energize our successors with our own immortality. We should all be living examples of what we teach our children… “you can do and be anything you want to be.” Let’s all leave the wishing behind… and become a WASHER making full use of the power of water to cleanse, polish, nourish and sustain our purpose driven life!

Enrique Ruiz, President
PositivePsyche.Biz Corp

Enrique ‘Rick’ Ruiz is President of PositivePsyche.Biz Corp, a management consulting and training firm in the Washington DC area. He earned an MBA in the UK and has led teams in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and across the US. He is PgMP , CM and CDE certified, has managed operations up to 15,000 people strong, is an inventor with a family of six and an author of five books including the popular Wisher, Washer, Wishy-Washy, How To Move From Just Existing to Personal Abundance. Read more articles of interest at

Change agent? The elephant in the room? The un-defined but pertinent pianist? What is the role of a diversity practitioner? By Anita Nahal, Ph.D., CDP

Anitas image 1As a diversity practitioner, I am continuously propelled by others, and by my
own inquisitive spirit to discover, and more clearly define, the purpose and role
of a diversity practitioner. The literature available on the topic clearly labels the diversity practitioner as a change agent. But what is a diversity change agent? What does that exactly mean? What is the need to have a diversity officer with related costs? And why, after many companies and organizations invest thousands on training a cadre of change agents, “…does a room full of positive change agents ask the question ‘What can I do?’ ” (Najera).

A diversity professional is like the elephant in the room…no one is quite sure why they are there or what their role is within the organization. Furthermore, they are like the elephant in the room attempting to deftly play a piano that does not have eighty-eight  keys, nor are the keys fixed. Therefore, the keys can increase or decrease at any time! With a much smaller and fluid piano, they are burdened with the lofty title of change agent. Being a change agent, however, is not possible unless the diversity practitioner is capable of visualizing the “bigger picture”, and grasping the “systemic nature” of the role (Griggs & Louw). Valuing and implementing diversity must become “…part of the total woodwork” (Griggs & Louw) of the organization encompassing all aspects, divisions, departments and functions.  And in order to achieve what is called the “inclusion breakthrough” (Miller & Katz), it is essential to build the “…platform for change.”

As the elephant in the room attempting to play a non-88 keys fluid piano, the diversity practitioner endeavors to inculcate a platform for change through different kinds of music; some with tunes, some short, some uneasy, some not yet perfected, some great, and some just about there! Organizations and diversity practitioners might also at times be unsure as to which keys fit them best: the Equal Employment Opportunity Office, Multicultural Affairs, Affirmative Action, or a separate Office of Diversity? And since their role is not very well defined, they might not play music that is enjoyed. Thus the three main questions for diversity practitioners (or the elephants in the room attempting to play a non-88 keys fluid piano) to consider are: the types of music and the length; the department within which to play the music; the criteria to ensure that others appreciate the music; as well as other properties specific to the facility in which the music is playing.

Ever since the 1960s, diversity has become a catch phrase for ensuring compliance with U.S. laws. However, we know that today, in 2014, it’s not as much about having diverse people working in an organization; indeed, depending upon the type, location and demographics served, most organizations already have diverse employees.  And having diverse employees has its own “…social expectation and value” (Kochan & et all).

However, the current need in the diversity world is “what are those companies doing with the diversity among its ranks? Are they utilizing their ideas and suggestions in product development or in a services capacity? Are they utilizing their cultural skills to reach out to larger or different market demographics?” (Nahal). Today it’s about ensuring that diversity practices benefit the organization and all diverse employees therein; the bottom line or the business case for diversity should be the driver. As Hubbard says, “Measuring the results of diversity initiatives will become a key strategic requirement to demonstrate its contribution to organization performance.”

At the level of organizational, individual and inter-personal interactions, diversity practitioners have therefore, to understand, comprehend, suggest, establish, implement, promote, sustain and plan for diversity best practices in the present and future. The piano keys are forever running, liked or not, but it’s the acceptance of their purpose that distinguishes one diversity practitioner from another. And to be a success, the diversity practitioner must be completely familiar with the organization’s mission, goals, purpose, practices, demographics, markets and suppliers.

The eighteen piano keys below enumerate, in my opinion, some of the roles of diversity practitioners; please feel free to add your own keys. Please note that in the keys below, I place event planner as one of my piano keys quite contrary to many who say that a diversity practitioner is not an event planner. Yes, that is not their sole role but it can be one of their tasks and a very valuable one indeed because festivities and food bring diverse people together into a room. Thus, the physical space shared can lead to other ways of positive interpersonal exchanges that benefit everyone. Some also say that their role is not that of a training manager, however, I have included that below as well. I consider diversity training to be an integral part of the diversity practitioner’s role– to learn, one must teach!  Also, some say that HR is not their role; while this is true, diversity’s input and review of recruitment practices, hiring and termination policies might very well assist an organization in avoiding many embarrassing situations and law suits.

Role of the Diversity Practitioner: On an 18-Key PianoAnitas image 2

  • Diversity change agent & setter of the organizational diversity imperative
  • Diversity point person & resource provider
  • Diversity liaison/organizational aligner
  • Facilitator of leadership buy-in
  • Diversity needs & risk assessor
  • Diversity strategy planner
  • Presenter of the diversity business case
  • Overseer of the diversity council(s)/employee resource groups
  • Diversity trainer & programs/events coordinator
  • Reviewer of diversity appointments, professional development, hiring & termination practices
  • Diversity conflict mediator
  • Diversity budget planner
  • Diversity financial manager
  • Diversity advertising, marketing, & product developer
  • Builder of interventions targeting diverse suppliers
  • Diversity succession planner
  • Diversity impact tracker and measurer
  • Diversity evaluator, and initiator of current and future best practices

Therefore, a diversity practitioner is one in many. This does not imply undue interference in other departments or decisions. Instead it implies that if the diversity practitioner sees something discriminatory or unproductive for the organization and its employees, they will bring that to the attention of leadership and department/division heads. It also implies that the diversity practitioner will take the lead to suggest and implement — in partnership with other organizational stakeholders — best practices related to diversity. In turn therefore, becoming a change agent. Thus the elephant in the room can move from being a “costly not sure what to do with them” scenario to “I am very useful to the overall success of the organization and employees” scenario! The undefined but pertinent pianist never stops playing the diversity music! The elephant in the room cannot be ignored as long as it makes its presence felt, and as long as leadership is willing to recognize its intrinsic and true value.


Anita Nahal, Ph.D., CDP is a diversity consultant; former professor and assistant provost for international programs; an author and poet; and founder & chairperson of You will find more information on her at:


Griggs, Lewis  & Louw, Lente-Louise. (1995). Valuing Diversity: New Tools For A New Reality, 25-27.

Hubbard, Edward. (1999). How To Calculate Diversity Return-On-Investment, 3.

Kochan, Thomas  & et all. Diversity in Business Performance: Report of the Diversity Research Network. Retrieved, February, 26, 2014 from: .

Miller, Frederick & Katz, Judith. (2002). The Inclusion Breakthrough: Unleashing The Real Power Of Diversity, 139.

Nahal, Anita. The Business Case For Diversity: The Need, Application and Training (NAT) Triangle.  Retrieved, February 26, 2014 from: .

Najera, Hugo.  Elements of Diversity: How Change Agents, Activists, Advocates, and Other Do-Gooders Seem to Not Get It Right After 40 Years of Trying. Retrieved, February 25, 2014 from: .

Further Reading

* Frans Johansson, The medici effect
* Hubert glover & John Curry, Giraffes Of Technology: The making of the twenty first-century leader
* Janet Smith, 58 little things that have a big impact
* Edward Carr, What is history?
* Deepak Chopra, The seven spiritual laws of success

“Work” Flow: Connecting Change to the Future

By Leah Smiley, CDE

I read an article on LinkedIn this morning by Jordan Weissmann in The Atlantic entitled, “Indisputable Evidence Shows That Millennials Have it Worse Than Any Generation in 50 Years.” The article asserts that the job market is so horrible that Millennials in the 25-32 age range are “forced” to live at home.

I don’t know if I would necessarily agree that Millennials have it worse…Millennials have higher workplace expectations as a result of being cohorts in the “trophy generation”. This is where they replaced “trophy wives” and were pushed to achieve awesome things in school, sports and social activities. Nevertheless, many lack real world experience and are used to helicopter parents swooping in to save them (hence, life at home as an adult). Therefore, the issue may not necessarily reside with “no available employment”; it may be a whole host of things from choosiness, lack of effort/motivation, and parents who are comfortable with adult kids living at home.

Think about it: something is wrong with the “work” flow. In previous generations, adult children had few choices pertaining to their living arrangements. A famous Burger King commercial from the 1970’s summed it up like this, “Have it your way”—voluntarily leave home when you turn 18 or involuntarily get put out.  Additionally, coming back home was never an option. If you did come “home”, parents would make it so unbearable that you would have to leave. Anything was better than living at home as an adult. This included working two minimum wage jobs until something better came along, or creating a product or service to sell.

The parents of today’s 25-32 year olds, are NOT the old-school Baby Boomer and Silent Generation parents. Employers are also not the companies of old. Organizations paid minimum wage for certain positions in prior years because a worker was not expected to make a “career” out of every job. This was a part of the business model for banks, retail, and food services– to create entry-level jobs that would provide experience for bigger and better opportunities. Yet, in recent years, this model is no longer working, as some folks misaligned this great concept called “retention”. Today, “retention” is not just for star workers in higher level positions; we want everyone to become so comfortable where they are, that they no longer seek opportunities elsewhere. However, now, you’re messing with the business model—because with retention, comes higher pay. If you want these folks to spend 10-15 years at your organization as a food services worker or a cashier—not only do you have to pay more but you are also eliminating opportunities for new talent to enter the workplace and gain the necessary skills to move up and out.

Do you see where this is going? The systemic flow from home to independence/self-sufficiency, and from entry-level work to higher paying jobs is interconnected. It’s not just helicopter parents, it’s also the workplace retention experts who didn’t take the time to connect their efforts to something greater, like the overall business strategy or the future.

So, how do we fix this dilemma?

1.  If you want to retain everyone, you must pay a higher price. For parents, it’s adults living at home. For employers, it’s more money. For customers, it’s higher prices. If that is your choice, understand and accept the trickle-down effect. Everything is connected (e.g., higher cost of living expenses, Millennials living at home, employers being pressured to raise the minimum wage, etc.)

2.  If your objective is to prepare individuals to transition and perform at optimum levels, you must have a cross-training and mentoring program that begins sooner, rather than later. Specifically target lower-level workers so that they can gain valuable experience performing different tasks, as well as work with different people who can challenge them, motivate them, and direct them.

Here’s where that pesky word “diversity” comes into play—lower level workers are much more likely to be diverse. According to 2012 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 75.3 million workers in the United States age 16 and over were paid at hourly rates, representing 59.0 percent of all wage and salary workers. Other characteristics of minimum wage workers include the fact that these earners are more likely to be younger, female, single (including single parents), lacking a college education, and White, Black or Latino.

And again, here is where we also see that diversity efforts alone, do not work.  Your organization needs diversity (it’s a word that cannot be replaced with other terms), but you must also add stuff to it, like inclusion, cultural competence, equity, professional development, and performance management.

3.  If you want to re-direct your retention efforts so that star performers, who have received a considerable corporate investment are retained, you must: (a) understand your organization’s business model; (b) align your diversity retention efforts with pipeline development efforts; and (c) channel employee expectations toward proficiency. You can strategically achieve this by communicating the rewards of being a skilled worker with online employee profiles, Lunch & Learn sessions with recently promoted workers, and inclusive practices (i.e., not excluding white guys).

While I definitely can’t say that Millennials have it better than previous generations, I can affirm that times have changed and not all of the changes that have been made over the years have been for the better. Yet, it’s never too late to correct course and help our organizations—and Millennials—to reach greater heights.


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

Blueprint for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion

By Leah Smiley


In a troubling trend, we have seen more “Offices of Diversity” getting housed in the “Office of Human Resources”. This trend represents a step backward for diversity and inclusion. Here’s why. In the instance where the Chief Human Resources Officer assumes the dual title of Chief Diversity Officer (CDO), the individual who holds both positions will invariably be very busy. But at the same time, diversity does not receive the same attention as it would if the position were held by someone singularly focused on D&I. Likewise, there may be work outside of the scope of HR that is required for a comprehensive D&I effort, and an HR Business Leader may be reluctant to have diversity step outside of traditional HR functions.

Much of the change happens when Chief Diversity Officers are retiring or when the lead Diversity practitioner transitions out of the organization. The CDO position “temporarily” moves to HR, where it ultimately stays.

Now, you may not agree that D&I should be a stand-alone entity, reporting directly to the senior-most leader. But I believe that it has to be that way IF diversity and inclusion is going to make a strategic impact. So what would you suggest Leah? I’m glad you asked.

Effective D&I efforts go way beyond training and recruiting. Thus, the CDO should have an office, a budget, and responsibility for staff.

In a corporate environment, these individuals may report to the CDO: Supplier Diversity; Diversity Recruiting; Diversity Training & Professional Development, including mentoring and on-boarding; Multicultural Marketing and Communications, including language translators; Global Assignment coordinator (e.g., someone who develops a pipeline of candidates for short-term global assignments); and someone who coordinates Diversity Councils and Resource Group efforts. More recently, we have seen the advent of Diversity Offices with Data Coordinators, or a person who researches and tracks changes to data sets within the Office of Diversity.

In an educational, nonprofit or government environment, you may have additional oversight for someone who manages the disability office.

Within the context of any type of organization, the CDO will integrate his/her efforts with other business units, divisions or departments. Therefore, while HR may typically handle recruiting and training, the diversity representative(s) will work with the HR representative(s). Or the multicultural marketing person may work with the Marketing Department. Or the Medical School, Alumni Relations, or Student Services will have a designated diversity practitioner to lead its focused diversity efforts. Likewise, in a state government, there may be a diversity practitioner in the Health Department, Public Housing Division, and Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The business case for proliferating diversity and inclusion lies in utilizing resources better, as well as in executing diversity and inclusion interventions more effectively. The long-term advantage of doing so lies in this realm called sustainability. If Diversity and Inclusion were better integrated with everyday operations, the organization would not be in a quandary when one person retires or terminates.

Nevertheless, taking this approach requires more structure and documentation if efforts will be properly duplicated throughout the entire organization. Employees who assume diversity and inclusion functions would also have to be trained accordingly. Letting folks “figure it out” is not the best way to get desired, positive results; nor is it an efficient use of Time, Treasury or Talent.

As the next generation of Diversity Leadership assumes the helm, let’s move the diversity and inclusion agenda forward with strategic, long-term impact– as well as quantifiable results. While the role of a CDO is very prestigious, it comes with a responsibility, not only to keep diversity in the forefront, but also to ensure the continuity of D&I efforts.


Leah Smiley, CDE 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


It’s not about a “total market” strategy. It’s about a “total market-competent” organization By Terry J. Soto

By Terry J. Soto, Author and President & CEO, About Marketing Solutions, Inc.


Much talk has surfaced lately about the whether it makes sense to have a total market strategy. Some contend that the intent of a “total market” strategy—to recognize all potential consumers’ needs, culture and behavioral characteristics within a company’s marketing strategy—is too often misunderstood or not understood at all. This assertion has resulted in approaches that homogenize how organizations communicate with consumers, and it underemphasizes and even ignores cultural nuances that work to powerfully connect consumers and brands.

This is occurring, in part, as a result of agency work consolidation. Marketers are naively taking work from specialty agencies with the required market expertise, and under the guise of a “total market” strategy, are re-assigning the work to general market agencies who are as naïve and even indifferent to the country’s diverse cultural differences as their clients.

I contend that the problem is based on two dynamics: 1) Said marketers lack understanding of consumer differences. Intuitively, I find this problem very hard to believe, as knowing one’s consumer and leveraging the right tools and resources to do so is at the heart of being an effective marketer. 2) Said marketers are looking for ways to make their jobs easier by streamlining processes, vendors and budgets. But one has to ask, at what cost?

Under any circumstances, marketers’ actions are catastrophic. I believe the crux of this problem is marketers, who remain ill-prepared to effectively see and consider today’s consumer market for what it is, and who aren’t sufficiently capable or competent to effectively create a “total market” strategy. By this I mean a strategy which effectively considers all consumers’ cultural insights: Hispanic, Asian, African American and non-Hispanic white consumers.

More than ever in our country’s history, marketers are challenged to “step up” their competence in an environment that 1) is ever more multicultural or multiculturally influenced, 2) is ever more digitally driven, and 3) requires a greater command of big data usage and analysis to optimize spending and maximize ROI.  It’s true. This is a tall order. So why, at a time when marketers actually need to leverage expertise are they choosing to ignore and minimize the very vendor relationships that can support and even accelerate their success?

Our job as marketers is to optimize our companies’ growth platforms and business strategies by planning and implementing complementary marketing strategies. Doing so effectively has always meant leading with competence AND hiring the right expertise for the job.

Terry Soto is President and CEO of About Marketing Solutions, Inc., a Burbank, California – based strategy consulting firm specializing in transformative business readiness and strategy consulting for profitable and enduring total market success. She helps her clients dramatically improve overall business performance by optimizing their strategies to succeed in the Hispanic market.

Diversity and SMP Volunteers By Anita Nahal, Ph.D., CDP, and SMP NJ Volunteer

When Ms. Joanne Bartosik, Coordinator of Volunteers, asked me to speak with Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) New Jersey volunteers about diversity, I was excited to share my views with them. The presentation, and conversation afterwards with the volunteers, went very well! Below is a snippet from the presentation.

My definition of diversity includes the varied existences of the full range of inanimate and living beings, ideas, beliefs, situations, policies and/or institutions at any given moment in time and in any given environment. Diversity can be identified in myriad forms: race, country of origin, ethnicity, religion, class, gender, disability, caste, color, sexual orientation, education, and culture, also political affiliation, majority vs. minority construct, affiliation through marriage, marital status, belief systems, language, accent/pronunciation, music and other arts, dress code, physical features such as hair, age, height, weight, and so forth. Sometimes individuals identify themselves in multiple descriptive modes instead of being mono-descriptive. Thus, when asked who I am, I might say, I am an American, New Jersey-ian, and Hindu woman. I call this the layered identity notion. In today’s “the world is flat” (Thomas Friedman) mode, with people so connected and interconnected virtually, it’s a little difficult to have a mono identity. In fact people were always multi-layered, but may not have identified themselves as such.

Another point to note is that we are constantly interacting with those who are similarly multi-descriptive about themselves, which might lead to a Venn diagram type of inter-cultural professional and personal environment scenario, which often can be challenging. Another important construct besides the layered identity is the majority-minority-majority construct. We could be the minority in a country but majority within an institution, such as a university or religious institution, and the majority in the country could become the minority therein. An example is Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), wherein African Americans who are a minority in the US become the majority, and others who are the majority in the country (Caucasians) become the minority. Furthermore, other minorities (such as Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans, etc.) become double minorities therein: minority in the country and minority at the HBCU. The resultant interaction is interesting and invigorating, but also poses many puzzling and perplexing questions about reversed power roles.

Accordingly, these details are important where you volunteer as well. In the context of volunteerism in New Jersey, the first point to note is the demographics throughout the state. Some of the larger groups are: White not Hispanic or Latino (58.2%), African American (14.7%), Hispanic (18.5%), and Asian (9.0%). Other groups include: Native American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, two or more races, etc. For complete details, please visit: Given the apparent demographic diversity with a huge concentration in urban centers of African American, Hispanic and Asian populations, of which one can also find a whole gamut of visa holders, green card holders, and US citizens in the latter two, the complexity of diversity can be difficult to comprehend.

However, as more individuals are added to the demographic pool when they are inducted as new citizens, a vital charge for volunteers can be how to relate to and assist a heady intercultural mix. This can become even more delicate when Asians (which could be South Asian, Southeast Asian or East Asian), Latinos or other non-English-speaking populations attempt to understand complicated American processes from the perspective of gender and age. For example, in the healthcare system, older women from these cultures may not wish to visit or be treated by a male doctor, or even go to the doctor unless it’s an emergency. And when doubts creep up in their minds or they notice something out of the ordinary in the Medicare Summary Notices (MSN), they might not be sure there is an error, or if they do, they might be afraid to ask, and not even know whom to ask. Regardless of gender, language can be a major restrictive factor, as older immigrant populations may not know English or know it well enough.

The role of volunteers can best be explained in two ways. First is at a personal level. Keep in mind five basic points: i) not to consider oneself more or less diverse than others … each is unique, different and thus diverse to another, ii) diversity equations/power equations keep changing, iii) we all have biases, iv) recognize and find solutions to one’s biases and v) make “yourself” the center of change and do not expect others to change, for as Gandhi said, be the change you want to see in others.

The second role is professional as a volunteer.  Four points are important. Volunteers need to i) familiarize themselves with basic equal opportunity employment (EEO) laws, ii) acquire training in diversity sensitization and diversity negotiation through the host organization, iii) form volunteer resource groups of different races and ethnicities to learn from each other, and iv) encourage collaboration between the host organization and local English-language schools to provide basic understanding of the issues in English.

Diversity no longer shines on the horizon as a moral imperative, because most organizations have diverse constituents; thus, shortage of diversity is not the issue. What diversity seeks now is two things: how best to use it for the benefit of the individuals and the organization; and second, how the organizational diversity can be turned into a business imperative. Only if organizations are convinced that diversity will bring them profit do they push ahead on the diversity development continuum from basic EEO training to seeping diversity into all practices from hiring, to professional development, to layoffs and turnovers and to leadership positions. In a nonprofit, the business case for diversity can be made by the volunteers in four ways: i) recruiting new diverse constituents, ii) recruiting more diverse volunteers, thus saving in time, talent, and money, iii) retaining more and more diverse constituents and diverse volunteers, leading to less turnover and thus more money saved, and iv) utilizing their connections and resources to secure more funding.

Besides providing diversity training, a nonprofit can consider providing the following to its volunteers in workshops and training sessions:

Both tools are relatively inexpensive and allow for a deeper understanding of the self, and in turn, how to relate to others.

At the end of the day, diversity is a combination of the moral imperative and the business imperative with an attempt to create not only a level playing field for all but also consequent benefits for all.




Author Anita Nahal, Ph.D., CDP is a consultant in organizational diversity and higher education. Read more about her on her website at:

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