Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace

Diversity: The Only Path Forward

Diversity & Inclusion Matters

Ms. Tomika Reed, 07 June 2020

Believe it or not, not everyone grew up like you. Shocker, right? Long ago, during the making of this country’s history, different was decided to be “less than”, a threat or dangerous, ugly, ignorant and outright some thing to be avoided at all costs. This country dealt with civil wars, policies like Jim Crow, and restricting the right to vote for literally EVERYONE who wasn’t a white male, and a plethora of other violent atrocities. It’s history, it happened, and we can’t discount it, but it is apparent we are responsible for figuring out a path forward, as citizens and business leaders. The beauty of the American landscape is that different is literally everywhere and business can dictate and redefine societal norms. You don’t have to explore far away countries or nations to find the beauty, the amazement, or the value of different. If in 2020, you can’t look around your workplace and find different, well then frankly, your workplace has failed already. Unfortunately, most of us have built in and/or unconscious biases that can derail recruiting top diverse talent or worse, developing and engaging our diverse staff so that we can retain them. The consequences and expectations are high, so it is imperative that you implement practices that demonstrate your investment in diversity and making it the norm instead of tagline. We have ALL seem them. First black board member, first Hispanic/Latin X appointed to XYZ, first _______ to accomplish ______(fill in the blanks). We all have the power and the responsibility to ensure future generations no longer need these taglines because we have finally progressed beyond them. Let’s collectively embrace a future where diverse is truly the norm and all the “firsts” have been accomplished. There is definitely a plethora of qualified and available diverse talent to retire the “first” taglines.

Simply stated, embracing different allows your organization to engage, attract, and retain qualified diverse individuals that can provide innovative new perspectives, a more accurate reflection of your wide range of consumers, and not to mention show the public you are serious about equity and equality in your organization. You know, real corporate social responsibility.

With a numerous amount of statistical and empirical evidence available surrounding the benefits of D&I in the workplace, It would seem that a company has to be intentionally avoiding diversifying its staff or perhaps organizations honestly have no clue where or how their current diversity and inclusion (D&I) efforts are failing them to truly be competitive or equitable in their respective markets. American citizens have shown in great numbers, that this is/will no longer be an acceptable excuse.

Your organization has already navigated a global pandemic and hopefully survived. You should be more than encouraged to survive this. Don’t be the company that after the George Floyd protests of 2020 simply posted a cookie cutter “we stand with you” or “black lives matter” or “blackout Tuesday” thread/email and took no impactful action afterwards. The consequences for your brand and/or organization could be dire. If you haven’t already met with your people operations, HR, marketing, and recruiting, to name a few, you are already behind in your organizational response.

So with expectations high and excuses no longer acceptable, what does an organization do? Research, create, and implement actionable plans and PLEASE, whatever you do, don’t tell those of us who are different to wait for a change that will come in 5, 10, or 15 years. Turn on the news, scroll through your social media feeds, and realize that change needs to be fundamental NOT incremental, not in the future but continue to benefit our future, and now.

If nothing else, I hope to share honest guidance, experiences, and techniques on implementing real change that can grow, not only your organization, but create open dialogue on how we all move forward.

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