Inspiring Leadership with Diversity, Inclusion & Cultural Competence

Posts tagged ‘workplace equity’

The Secret’s Out! Women In The Workplace by Mi’Shon Landry, CDP

It probably comes as no surprise to know that…



But did you also know?

Although women represent more than half of the total workforce, their share of employment varies considerably across occupational groups.

The female wage gap still presents lots of opportunity for improvement, but a key factor contributing to the gap is GENDER DIFFERENCES ACROSS OCCUPATIONS.



Today, more Black women are participating in the labor force and have seen their earnings increase over time. Black women are nearly twice as likely to be the sole breadwinner for their families.

However, Black women still face a stark wage gap and are more likely to work in lower paid occupations.

Raising the minimum wage, ensuring equal pay, and creating access to high-growth occupations with higher earnings will greatly impact the lives of Black women and their families.

There were about 7.8 million Asian American (AA) women and 442 thousand Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander (PI) women 16 years of age and over in the U.S. in 2013. Of those, 4.6 million AA women and 283 thousand PI women were in the civilian labor force.

As a group, Asian American, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander women workers have had more favorable outcomes than female workers in other racial groups.

However, there is a great deal of variation and disparity between AA women and PI women, as well as among women in detailed Asian communities.

Of the 4.3 million AA women who were employed, nearly one half worked in management, business, science, and the arts occupations. Meanwhile, of the over 250 thousand PI women who were employed, a majority worked in sales and office occupations, and less than 1 in 3 worked in management, business, science, and the arts occupations.

There were about 10.7 million Hispanic women in the civilian labor force in 2014, representing 1 in 7 women in the labor force. Of those, 9.8 million were employed.+

By 2022, Hispanic women are projected to account for 17.3% of the female labor force and 8.1% of the total labor force.

Hispanic women are more likely to work in occupations that pay less, with one in three employed in service occupations, compared with less than one in five among White non-Hispanic women. Median weekly earnings in service occupations represent less than half of the earnings of workers in management, professional and related occupations.

Opportunities clearly exist for women and the only way we will resolve the disparities is to proactively work to implement strategies that will improve and eventually eliminate barriers to gender and race equality.

Here are but a few ways that can make sustainable differences:

  • Strengthen Women’s Equal Pay Rights by Ensuring Women Receive the Minimum Wage and Overtime.
  • Advance Opportunities for Women in Non-Traditional Occupations and Male Dominated Fields.
  • Identify Challenges and Solutions for Targeted Groups: In September 2013, the Women’s Bureau initiated its Economic Security for Older Women Workers initiative, including convening a research conference on older workers that explored retirement patterns and barriers to employment and reemployment such as age and sex discrimination. Since its onset, the Bureau has published its first fact sheet, Older Women and Work, and has begun to convene listening sessions and roundtables across the country to collect information from communities on challenges and best practices in hiring, recruitment and job training.
  • Keep Women Workers Safe at the Worksite: In response to the persistently high rates of injuries among the largely female healthcare workforce, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) launched a new emphasis program to increase inspections at nursing homes and residential care facilities.
  • Support the Creation of State Paid Leave Programs and Research Paid Leave Programs.
  • Increase Women’s Health and Retirement Security: The Department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) educates women about retirement and health benefits to help them increase their financial fitness, maintain health coverage, and exercise their rights under the law.
  • Tailor Training to Women’s Needs and Use Social Networks to Spread Knowledge.
  • Enhance Programs on Training and Employment for Female Veterans: Women are the fastest growing population of veterans and are more likely than their male counterparts to be in the workforce. While approximately 10 percent of all veterans are women, 13 percent of all veterans in the labor force and 20 percent of Gulf War II veterans are women. Efforts to create and expand opportunities for working women must include female veterans, who may experience an overlap of challenges faced by both other working women and their male veteran counterparts. The new VETS Women Veteran Program, implemented in collaboration with the Women’s Bureau, is designed to empower women veterans to achieve economic stability and equality in the workplace.
  • Help More Women Access and Participate in International Markets: The Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) continues to work with ministries of labor and employment from other governments on developing programs and policies combating discrimination in the workplace and ensuring equal opportunities for all workers.
  • Help to Sustainably Improve the Education Levels of All Women.


By Mi’Shon Landry, CDP
Certified Diversity Professional and Society for Diversity member
Champion for Diversity, Culture Consultant
Contact Mi’Shon at (817) 602-1444
Connect with me on LinkedIn:

Reference Sources:

+U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections Program

**U.S. Census

United States Department of Labor

Fact Sheet, June 2014
United States Department of Labor

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?


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

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

WHO Does Diversity and Inclusion Serve?



By Leah Smiley

In every organization there is a customer/student/constituent that serves to produce revenue (or income through sales, tuition, grants, taxes, fees, etc.) for your employer. Hence, organizations align their products and services to continuously meet the expectations and needs of their customers. Using this customer-centric model, I challenge you to think about ‘who’ the office of diversity and inclusion serves and how well you are meeting your customer’s needs.


My assertion is that the customer is the foundation of success in the office of Diversity and Inclusion. It’s easy to sit in an office and assume that we know what people need. Or to put together programs that people MUST attend, and then check a box indicating that we were successful. But it becomes a game-changer when we understand what motivates people, what their aspirations are, and how they perceive workplace obstacles such as exclusion, glass ceilings, discrimination, harassment– or even this concept of diversity and inclusion. This level of understanding will help you to develop meaningful interventions, minimize backlash, reduce corporate risks, and foster respect and appreciation for all differences.


Here are some suggestions for serving Diversity and Inclusion’s customers better:


  1. Set the tone. First, participate. HP’s David Packard first coined the phrase “Management By Walking Around” in the 1940s. I implore you to go beyond merely walking around to being visible and active in key meetings, strategic planning sessions, and on other projects. This requires that you make yourself available. Next, set expectations that likewise, employees will participate in diversity and inclusion as a part of their daily work. Give solid and relevant examples of what people can do on a day-to-day basis.
  2. Connect with your customer’s customer.  You can exponentially increase your effectiveness if you understand the motivations and challenges faced by your organization’s consumers. Not only can you identify trends that support diversity interventions, but you can also assist diverse teams who innovatively anticipate the consumer’s changing needs.
  3. Get more actionable insight. There are some customers (or employees) who will give lip-service to your Diversity and Inclusion programs. Instead of attributing the reason to an “ism” (e.g., racism, sexism, ageism, etc.), find out why. Get real-world context and discover new insights by asking your passive customers better questions. For example, instead of asking, “Did you enjoy today’s speaker?” it may be better to inquire, “How did you feel about some of the points that the speaker made? Did anything make you uncomfortable?” Let’s not assume that only certain individuals can be made to feel uncomfortable. Start with the assumption that there are some things about diversity and inclusion that makes everyone in the workplace feel uncomfortable.
  4. Reward to engage. Increased satisfaction with, and better results through, diversity and inclusion requires digging deeper to find great examples of communication, teamwork, customer service, and conflict management. Regularly illustrate accomplishments within your organization through a diversity of people. No one face should monopolize diversity and inclusion within your organization. Everyone should be able to experience diversity’s rewards and benefits.

At the end of the day, addressing the “who” will help you to stay focused on what’s really important.




Leah Smiley is an expert trainer, consultant, author and President of the Society for Diversity. For more information about the Society for Diversity, log onto 


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