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4 Key Considerations for Diversity and Inclusion in 2021

Ira S. Wolfe

President, Success Performance Solutions

Six decades ago, Alan Shephard became the first American astronaut in space. Fifty years ago, we landed on the moon. Just two months ago, a four-person crew successfully launched aboard the first NASA-certified commercial human spacecraft system in history.

And yet "here we are still struggling [to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion on earth]," said diversity strategist Torin Ellis, on a recent episode of my podcast.

Torin passionately and articulately expressed his impatience and frustration for the slow progress society’s made over the past 60 years on diversity, inclusion and, especially, equity. His voice reverberates in my head weeks after our interview.

Torin is not alone. The killing of George Floyd and Breanna Taylor unleashed anger and outrage among people young and old, black and white, around the world. But for many Baby Boomers, the summer of 2020 felt like déjà vu: Torin was quick to point out that the events of last summer were not unlike the horror and backlash we witnessed when cameras showed state troopers and county possemen attack unarmed marchers in the 1965 Selma to Montogomery march. That event unleashed a series of social and legislative events that attempted to ensure fair and equal treatment for all. We often say that change is a marathon, not a sprint. But 60 years is a long time, even for a marathon.

Seeking to make sure we do what’s right this time, I used my podcast pulpit to access Torin’s unfiltered thoughts and advice. And I started by asking: Will 2020 be remembered as the year things really changed or will things just gradually slip back to the way they were?

Torin didn’t hesitate: "I think it's a little too early for us to say. It feels different and organizations seem to be a bit more serious around the diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging initiatives this time. Individuals inside of these organizations seem to be a bit more thirsty and curious about how they are going to pursue a change in their organization."

To turn rhetoric, frustration and even anger into good, Torin says the responsibility falls on both individuals and organizations. While companies need to lead the effort in making diversity and inclusion initiatives a priority, we all need to "drop the excuses and figure out how to do the work." To get started, Torin offers four key considerations:

1. Own Your Role

Diversity and inclusion has to start somewhere. Many people suggest it starts with leadership. But Torin suggested that it is also "the responsibility of every member of an organization to own their roles fully. Every individual, after reflecting on where they have fallen short, is responsible for making the changes they need to make in order to create a just workplace."

2. Make Diversity and Inclusion a Priority

The response to the pandemic was swift. We transformed cities, schools, workplaces, and even personal living spaces within days and weeks. Like COVID-19, discrimination, exclusion, and social injustice are also very real threats to our society. If we can create a safe response to a pandemic, why can’t we create a safe and inclusive workplace for people of color, race, age, and gender preference?

Torin said, "The reason no real change has been made is not because it’s impossible, but because it hasn’t been made a top priority. Many organizations have started with initiatives such as unconscious bias training, but haven’t gone far enough. This is a great first step, but not an approach that will lead to lasting change." Instead of relying solely on unconscious bias training, organizations need to promote more holistic efforts that will exist in perpetuity and have long-term, progressive goals associated with them.

3. Table Our Fragility

Personal change is hard work. We need to accept, then unpack our personal biases and prejudices. This process can often cause people to feel attacked. One of the most difficult parts of these changes is that it is ongoing. We are never done working on becoming a better human. It is a constant process that requires reflection, understanding, learning, and practice to make real changes.

We also must accept that we will make mistakes. That’s almost guaranteed. Torin’s advice: "Rather than letting the fear of making a mistake prevent you from diving into the work of being a better person, embrace the inevitability of making mistakes and be prepared to own them."

4. Spread the Word

It is not enough to only work on yourself as an individual. To work towards a truly just society, we are all obliged to get others on board. Create a safe zone for crucial conversations about the reality of our personal biases, prejudices and social injustice. Beyond that, encourage business leaders and influencers to join efforts to advance racial equality and accept responsibility for fixing their practices. It’s not only the moral and right thing to do but racism has led to a $16 trillion loss in GDP over the last 20 years. If nothing else, this finding must be shared and used to spark change.

According to Torin, the biggest threat to progress is "the complacency of white people and the fatigue of Black people." But if we do these four things, Torin strongly believes we'll be in better shape than ever before to shape to make real change.

For more tips about how to make diversity and inclusion a priority in the workplace, check out a recent webinar about Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging and HR’s role from Cornerstone’s Advisory Services lead, Jeremy Spake.

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El talento de los empleados LGTBQ+

Publicación de blog

El talento de los empleados LGTBQ+

Vivimos en un mundo cada vez más globalizado y conectado, lo cual lleva a encontrarse a gente de todas partes del mundo en las empresas. Aunque esta diversidad puede aportar muchos beneficios, la verdad es que no es fácil conseguir que conecten personas muy distintas. Para ello es imprescindible que las empresas apuesten por programas y estrategias que promuevan la harmonía y la cooperación. Con motivo del día LGTBIQ+ el 28 de junio, queremos llamar la atención a este colectivo severamente castigado socialmente. Aunque es cierto que hoy en día se han hecho muchos avances en temas de legislación para reconocer sus derechos, y la sociedad se ha vuelto más tolerante con su presencia, todavía existe discriminación en varios ámbitos sociales, incluido el laboral. Según Harvard Business Review a día de hoy el 85% de las 500 empresas en el top de fortuna ha implementado políticas de protección sobre orientación sexual, un aumento del 34% respecto al 2000. Sin embargo, como la historia ha demostrado varias veces, las leyes y la práctica no siempre van juntas. Según un informe del sindicato UGT “Las personas LGTBI en la negociación colectiva. Análisis de la protección laboral de las personas LGTBI” solo tres de cada diez convenios colectivos de las empresas españolas han establecido cláusulas destinadas a la protección del colectivo LGTBI. En Cornerstone siempre hemos estado comprometidos con la meritocracia, y el rechazo a un trabajador por su orientación sexual no únicamente es poco ético, sí no también un desperdicio de talento. No tiene ningún sentido para una empresa discriminar a posibles trabajadores solamente por pertenecer a este colectivo, malgastar recursos valiosos por prejuicios no es una buena estrategia. Así pues, con el objetivo de ayudar a este colectivo y a las empresas, hemos elaborado una lista de todos los beneficios que los trabajadores pertenecientes a la comunidad LGTBI+ pueden aportar a una empresa. Aumenta el compromiso de los empleados. Pasamos muchas horas del día en nuestro lugar de trabajo y como resultado, si la empresa en la que trabajamos está comprometida con la sociedad, hará que nosotros de una forma u otra aumentemos también nuestro compromiso con ella. Mejora del entorno laboral. Fomentar la diversidad entre los empleados hará que estos sean más tolerantes entre ellos y se sientan más respetados y acogidos por su empresa. Esto dará como resultado un clima laboral mucho más acogedor que se traducirá en empleados más fidelizados con la empresa y una menor rotación. Favorece a la imagen corporativa de la empresa. Los empleados han cambiado a lo largo de los años, ya no buscan solo ganar más dinero en una empresa, sino que buscan empresas comprometidas, que contribuyan con su labor a la sociedad y que posean valores significativos para ellos. Por lo tanto, es fundamental que las empresas posean esta imagen de compromiso y diversidad, si la tienen muchas más personas desearán trabajar en esa empresa. Hacen las empresas más productivas. Según un informe global de McKinsey, las empresas situadas cuartil superior en cuanto a diversidad étnica y cultural entre sus ejecutivos en 2019 tenían un 36% más de probabilidades de tener beneficios superiores a la media que las empresas menos inclusivas. Está claro, a más diversidad de talento, mayor beneficio.

El líder ágil: Consejos para mantener a los empleados comprometidos, conectados y productivos

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El líder ágil: Consejos para mantener a los empleados comprometidos, conectados y productivos

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Workplace Diversity: ’The Era of Colorblindness is Over’

Publicación de blog

Workplace Diversity: ’The Era of Colorblindness is Over’

Workplace diversity is a pressing topic among HR pros. It's heavily scrutinized in blogs, at conferences and during training sessions. That attention often focuses on how diversity affects the company — but what about how minorities' experiences affect people personally and professionally? Google employee Erica Baker addressed that question recently on Medium with a first-person account of her experiences as a minority in the tech industry. Here, Dr. Kecia Thomas, a professor of industrial-organizational psychology at the University of Georgia, explains how individual workers' experiences can reverberate throughout an organization: How do the experiences of minority workers affect the entire company? The concerns of under-represented workers often represent the concerns of other workers, as well. The issues that minority workers might experience are not all that different from the experiences of people who were the first generation to go to college in their families, or people who might come from a lower economic class. Attending to diversity actually helps to improve the workforce overall. Some of the challenges for ethnic minority workers, for example, are that they often find themselves as one-of-a-kind in their workplace. I’m talking about high-level professionals, people with graduate degrees and above. There are implicit biases that might hinder their access to informal networks, to mentoring or to professional development opportunities that could subsequently impair their performance and career development. I think there are also experiences that newcomers face in regard to feeling invisible and voiceless. How do these biases affect people in the majority? It’s not a stretch to say that the lack of exposure for many white colleagues can also be a source of anxiety that can inhibit their opportunity for authentic interactions with a new colleague who is different, ethnically or culturally. Any time we have those barriers to communication or to establishing authentic relationships, it’s a potential barrier to our performance and our ability to work together productively. Whose role is it to consider these issues within a company — and to take steps to address them? When it comes to any type of organizational change, it always begins at the top. Leaders have to understand demographic shifts in their labor force, how those shifts might be reflected — and the needs and priorities of their workers. When leaders are committed to a diverse and inclusive workplace, HR is empowered to put in place the strategies that are equally effective across a diversity of workers. There’s also a culture of the organization that has to be addressed to make sure that people are held accountable if they violate non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies. Too often, companies don’t have clear policies, or they're not communicated effectively. And even if they’re communicated effectively, they’re not always followed. We are at a critical point as a nation in regard to how we address diversity. We are seeing a lot of blatant forms of discrimination and violence occur, but we’re also seeing a younger generation that is so multicultural and inclusive. We’re seeing an increasing number of states embrace same-sex marriage. So there’s kind of a tidal wave of issues going on that reflect our differences. We have an opportunity to do this well and see this as a way to promote innovation, creativity and greater collaboration. A lot of the research I’ve done with Vicky Plaut [professor of law and social science at the University of California, Berkeley] suggests that we need to embrace multiculturalism and that the era of colorblindness is over. In fact, colorblindness is a signal to members of ethnic and racial minority groups that they are now vulnerable to discrimination. Photo: Can Stock

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