As we continue to dig deeper into the conversation of diversity and inclusion with the fifth episode of our Community Collaborative Series, our community leaders discuss the idea of companies going beyond the diversity tab on a website. They provide insightful comments and suggestions for organizations to take a more effective and genuine approach to their efforts.
Today’s discussion builds off of episode four, in which Simone Bayfield, a Black MBA candidate at ASU, explained her desire to work for a company that goes beyond stock photos and generic statements regarding diversity.
Keeping Bayfield’s thoughts in mind, the leaders discuss ways companies can go beyond checking a box or seeking recognition for doing ‘the right thing’ and commit themselves to long-term diversity and inclusion goals.
Community Collaborative co-host/producer and Black Chamber of Arizona CEO Robin Reed begins the conversation by clarifying the difference between showing support and showing comprehensive support for diversity and inclusion. While recent events, like the death of George Floyd, led to a massive response from corporate America, Reed urges companies to commit to and believe in the outcome of change rather than simply writing a check for the cause.
Referencing his prior conversation with Bayfield, Reed notes the obligations companies have to not only take action but to pay attention to how they are going about doing so. He calls for them to have deliberate and purposeful conversations about how we can make change and why change is important (4:05).
He brings attention to the need for organizations to measure more than just how many of a particular group there is, but to pay attention to their experiences and opportunities within the company (14:15). Only then will they be able to understand the reality of their diversity and inclusion.
Joining Reed on this episode are Tim Overton, diversity and inclusion expert and appointed member of the Arizona Commission of African American Affairs, and Art Taylor, Senior Director of Global Compliance and Ethics of PayPal.
Reed, Overton and Taylor discuss the questions companies should consider when committing to improving diversity and inclusion efforts for the long-term:
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Art Taylor explains that it’s more than bringing a diverse group of people together. There is a need to be more intentional around the level of inclusion of this diverse population (5:55).
He suggests by starting with the make-up of a leadership team, pointing out how the assembly of the team should really start by thinking about who’s not in the room (6:40). He urges organizations to challenge their bias or lack of diversity by questioning why the missing voices weren’t invited in the first place.
Tim Overton addresses the concerns Monica Villalobos brought up in the last episode surrounding the idea of task forces. While the term task force implies finding a solution to a short-term problem, Overton stresses how “the issues we are working with are longer-term issues” (9:26).
Therefore, he urges companies to appoint committees to more effectively approach diversity and inclusion for the long-term. For the best results, the committee should be diverse in makeup, including people from high-level positions. “Not only is it important for you to have diversity in the C-Suite,” Overton states, “but it’s important for the C-Suite to be in diversity (9:57).
If companies begin to view diversity as a strategy, Taylor adds, they will begin to notice acceleration and benefits when it comes to approaching challenges and solving problems (12:20).
However, before a company can better invest in diversity and inclusion, Taylor explains they should understand where their lack of diversity and inclusion lies in the first place. Only then will they be able to address them effectively, such as considering diverse candidates to bring on the team (15:39).
Even after there is a diverse team in place, Taylor explains the importance of empowering the right people to bring about change (27:29). One way to do that is by including them in important conversations and providing adequate financial support for their success and inclusion.
Overton reiterates that “inclusion is allowing everyone to participate,” reminding us that diversity and inclusion go beyond ideas of race and ethnicity (31:30). He explains the need for companies to reevaluate their policies that may prevent people from bringing their true selves to work.
Reed concludes by reminding leaders that when it comes to prioritizing diversity and inclusion, it’s all about perspective. As Reed explains, “you can look at it as the bottom of your profit and loss statement where your expenses lie, or you can look at it as the left side of your balance sheet where your assets lie” (33:29). By viewing diversity and inclusion as assets, organizations can begin to understand and approach diversity and inclusion in the same way.
Actions Organizations Should Take
Important takeaways from episode 5 include:
- – Go beyond seeking credit by being deliberate and purposeful with discussions surrounding diversity and inclusion (4:05)
- – Be committed to making a continual effort and continually challenging yourself with what you can do better
- – Challenge your bias and lack of diversity by asking who’s not in the room for important conversations and why (6:40)
- – Establish a diversity and inclusion committee to address issues on an on-going basis (10:50)
- – Measure and look at “the path, trajectory, and speed of how that group advances within the organization” (14:30)
- – Strive to understand where your lack of diversity and inclusion lies before you look for potential strategies for inclusion (15:39)
- – Create affinity groups to help bring people together and provide a safe space to talk about experiences and concerns (18:36)
- Include affinity group chairs on the diversity and inclusion committee to ensure everyone has a voice
- – Outline a concrete framework around your diversity and inclusion efforts (27:24)
- – Empower everyone to feel safe and be genuine in talking about their experiences (27:59)
- – “Match your dollars with your efforts” (28:51)
- – Review company policies, revising ones that may prevent people from bringing their truest selves to work out of fear of being ostracized or reprimanded (31:30)
- – View diversity and inclusion as assets to the organization and invest your time and resources accordingly (33:29)
While corporate America is responding in the moment to surrounding race and inequality, the conversation from today’s Community Collaborative reminds us to go beyond recognition seeking for doing the right thing.
If our goal is long-term change, there needs to be a dedicated and genuine intention behind diversity and inclusion efforts. There needs to be a willingness and commitment to invest the time and money required to ensure fairness and equity across all aspects of the company culture.
About The Community Collaborative
Community and business leaders and individuals who want to educate themselves on diversity issues will find the series informative and educational. And anyone who wishes to get involved will have ready access to resources featured in each program.
The video series may be streamed for free through the STN app. Viewers may subscribe through STN’s website or by downloading the STN app on the App Store or Google Play.
Each program in the series will provide details on how to get involved in featured activities and initiatives. To be featured in “The Community Collaborative” series or other STN programming, contact us at 480.967.7088.
Every day, there are leaders on the front lines of the fight to improve life in our community. STN provides the platform to tell their and their communities’ stories with video series on leadership philosophies and active efforts to make positive change in our region.