Are you looking to develop a diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategy at your company or enhance existing efforts? While it is widely recognized that D&I groups can strengthen relationships and bridge differences, research also reveals that diverse companies outperform their comparable counterparts. At Sendero, we created a D&I committee to increase cultural awareness, employee engagement, and innovation. Let’s explore why having a D&I committee matters and a few examples of how your company can do the same.
Three ways D&I strengthens companies:
1) More Innovation, Better Solutions
Diverse skills, competencies, experiences and perspectives inspire greater innovation and lead to more creative problem solving and solutions. Having professionals from marginalized or underrepresented groups in leadership roles and at various levels provides the diversity of thought needed to drive innovation, productivity, and positive change within a company.
2) Broader Candidate Pool, Stronger Culture
Hiring diverse candidates deepens the talent pool, giving companies access to highly talented individuals that other more homogeneous organizations may not have. And although hiring similar candidates might help maintain a company’s existing culture, it doesn’t necessarily strengthen it. Diverse companies develop diverse cultures that are better positioned to evolve as business changes.
3) Larger Reach
Diverse companies are uniquely positioned to tap into an expanded customer base. George Dickson, a marketing manager for a project management software company, says, “A major element of effectively addressing a market is building a relationship with the people within it. As the shape of the market changes, it takes a broader view to see its various movements, and a diverse workforce can help give an organization the perspective it needs to participate.”
D&I Best Practices
According to a 2016 Fortune article entitled “How the Best Companies Do Diversity Right,” here are some steps businesses should take when looking to create a D&I committee or prioritize cultural competence:
• Create affinity groups or resource groups that host regular events to increase cultural awareness
• Implement ongoing training that fosters cultural sensitivity and uncovers implicit bias
• Use vendors that are committed to diversity and inclusion
• Seek to improve diversity in recruiting and in the talent pipeline through innovative partnerships and scholarships
Creating a D&I Committee
It is important to note that creating a D&I committee takes time and effort as you must establish a firm foundation to be truly effective. From conception to creation, Sendero’s D&I Committee took 18 months and below is a look at why.
To start, you should convene a focus group comprised of professionals from various levels of your organization (ensuring that you are also following the necessary workplace protocols). This group will be a critical resource as you begin conversations on varying aspects of D&I to identify gaps, gather insights and articulate actionable steps that will lead to the cultivation of a more inclusive company culture.
After you’ve compiled the feedback from these conversations and assessed any trends or patterns that emerge, you’ll want to craft your company’s D&I statement – this statement guides an organization’s commitment to D&I. As an added measure, engage D&I experts to help your team brainstorm ideas and further develop your business’ D&I strategy.
Once you’ve finalized your plan, it’s time to launch your own D&I committee! Consider creating sub-committees that will drive the specific goals and objectives outlined in your company’s D&I plan. For example, Sendero’s D&I Committee consists of three sub-committees:
1) Education and Awareness
2) Celebration and Recognition
The Future of Workplace D&I
To thrive in a global marketplace, companies will need to take a deeper dive into workplace inclusion; they should consider corporate social responsibility and ability status, among other factors that lie beyond the surface level. Newer generations will want more than just a paycheck—they want to work for companies that address positive social change, creating inclusive spaces for all. In his Forbes post, author Nish Parikh says “young Americans want to lead by example, and to that end, they are not even hesitant to make personal sacrifices such as accepting pay cuts to work for socially responsible organizations.” As labor force demographics continue to shift, engaging professionals in intentional workplace D&I initiatives will be essential – creating a D&I committee of your own will give your company the competitive edge required to not only increase financial performance, but more importantly to remain relevant for years to come.