Inspiring Leadership with Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence

Posts tagged ‘workplace diversity’

Apple: Setting a New Business Standard for Progress by Ian Cureton

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The comfort of community, and the idea that I belong, is a powerful nod to something that is better understood than articulated. As a 22 year-old black male in America I am reminded daily that I do not belong to the “in-group” in mainstream society. Yet, I embrace this challenge. As I draw stares and confused glances, I realize that the message behind these uncomfortable interactions is progress. My suit is Ralph Lauren, my smile is big, and my personality is even bigger. I represent progress.

For the time being, some might be uncomfortable with the idea of inclusion and one day working for a young executive like myself, but the reality is, I am not going anywhere, and neither are all the people I represent.

Yesterday Apple took a huge, progressive step in this realm of representation by embracing diversity in global customer preferences, via its recent product development efforts. The company released iOS 8.3 for its iPhone, iPad and iPod touch products. The update, which has been in beta for several months, brings over 300 new emojis (including diversity options) as well as a new keyboard for inputting the symbols. iOS 8.3 also includes a whole host of new Siri languages, so more international users can benefit from Apple’s virtual personal assistant. The update adds Siri in Russian, Danish, Dutch, Thai, Swedish, Turkish and Portuguese. Siri’s voice has been tweaked to reflect this update.

Being represented on a global scale has to be one of the true proud moments I’ve felt as an American– and to you Apple, I thank you. Emoji’s on the iPhone have always been a part of my day-to-day communications but the emoji’s were previously one-dimensional. To those on the inside looking out at this subject it is easy to claim theatrics, grand hyperbole, etc…and to those who share this perspective,  I forgive you. But it doesn’t change the fact that I, Ian Gabriel Cureton, appreciate what Apple has done for my self-actualization, as well as for setting a precedent in the tech sector by promoting the importance of diversity for all.

 

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Ian Cureton is an intern for the Society for Diversity. For more information about the Society for Diversity, log onto http://www.societyfordiversity.org.

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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.

A Holiday Note to the ‘P.C.’ Police: Be Civil

By Leah Smiley

 

pc police 2It’s that time of year again, when Diversity and Inclusion efforts receive a bad rep because of a few over-zealous, politically correct individuals.

As we approach the holidays, the P.C. (Politically Correct) police become more vigilant than ever. Once, I sent out an e-mail blast that said, “Merry Christmas” and I received messages for days on end saying, “You’re not a REAL diversity professional”.

According to Wikipedia, “freedom of religion [in America] is a constitutionally guaranteed right provided in the religion clauses of the First Amendment. Freedom of religion is also closely associated with separation of church and state, a concept advocated by Colonial founders such as Roger Williams, William Penn and later founding fathers such as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.”

In the workplace, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) provides for ‘religious freedom’ through anti-discrimination laws. According to EEOC, “Religious discrimination involves treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs. The law protects not only people who belong to traditional, organized religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism, but also others who have sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs.” This protection includes atheists, agnostics and non-religious folks.

Most developed nations have workplace protections for people based on religion. In emerging markets, however, religious diversity is causing all sorts of conflicts. According to DoSomething.org, “Nearly 50 percent of countries increased their religious discrimination between 2009 and 2010, and only 32 percent saw decreases. On average, countries that have government restrictions on religion have higher rates of social hostility. Social hostilities of religious discrimination include armed conflict, harassment of women over dress code, mob violence, hate crimes, violence or violent threats, terrorist violence, and more.”

Consider this partial listing of recent events:

  • Somali extremists killed 28 non-Muslims in Northern Kenya.
  • Two attackers armed with knives, axes and a gun stormed a synagogue in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, killing four worshipers and wounding several others.
  • In the Philippines, a nurse and teacher bled to death after extremists threw a hand grenade into a Church of Christ.
  • In Bangladesh, a prominent university professor was murdered, several years after he led a push to ban students wearing full-face veils. The professor followed the folk sect Baul, popular in parts of western Bangladesh, whose members call themselves followers of humanism rather than a particular religion.
  • According to The Freethought Report released in December 2013, Atheists face death in 13 countries. Even in places like Austria, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Malta and Poland, blasphemy laws allow for jail sentences up to three years on charges of offending a religion or believers.

This very brief list certainly provides an overview of the world’s religious state of affairs. For global organizations and governments, this level of religious (or non-religious) intolerance presents a risk for workers and their families, tourists and business travelers, conventioneers, customers, and more. In other words, there are much bigger fish to fry than whether or not someone says, “Happy Kwanzaa.”

Therefore, if you are P.C., try to relax this holiday season. If someone says, “Happy Hanukkah” because you look Jewish and you have a Jewish-sounding name, try not to go ballistic. Perhaps, you can say “Happy Hanukkah to you too!” But if your “freedom” does not allow you to celebrate Hanukkah, perhaps you can simply say, “Happy Holidays” without going into a diatribe about how some Jews are Jewish by ethnicity only. Likewise, if a store clerk says, “Merry Christmas”, don’t go on a rant about banning the store because you’re not a Christian. Take a deep breath, smile, and keep moving.

When we think about all that is going on around the world, and the fact that people are dying for what they believe (or don’t believe), the least we can do is show some civility when someone seeks to spread a little holiday cheer. The Platinum Rule for Diversity is to treat others as they want to be treated. Yet, religious and secular fanaticism (e.g., unreasonable zeal, mean-spiritedness, or other extreme behavior) threatens everyone else’s freedom.

Political correctness is not an apparent token that you are the king or queen of diversity and inclusion because sometimes, P.C. is offensive. Thus, instead of being politically correct this year, try to be civil. In the words of Jim Leach, former U.S. Congressman and academic, “Civility is not about dousing strongly held views. It’s about making sure that people are willing to respect other perspectives.”

P.S.  You can send me all of the P.C. notes you want, Happy Thanksgiving anyway!

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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 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.

 

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

By Leah Smiley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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