An inclusive economy for Colorado is not something we can create overnight. It takes internal transformation. It takes personal reflection. It takes culture change, process change, policy change, and sometimes people change.
It will take more than what you can do inside your company. You’ll have to develop the networks, pipelines and partners that can help you succeed. You’ll have to change the whole business ecosystem, not just your corner of it.
Some resistance to this long-term commitment is to be expected and should be faced as the business challenge it is.
The further we get away from George Floyd’s death, the more people will once again settle into old routines and organizations will return to business as usual. You may have already heard questions such as, “Why are we doing this? Things are going well.” or “This is a political issue, and we shouldn’t be involved.” As a leader who is feeling more resistance than you anticipated, what is the best path forward?
- Be an influential leader. Talk about why you are driving DEI. Act in ways you want others to and talk about what you are doing and why it’s important. Make your actions clear and simple for anyone to follow. Leaders who choose to update their DEI practices without embarking on their own personal learning journey will develop a different kind of DEI program than one who also goes on a personal journey. For additional guidance on the importance of leadership driving DEI, see “Collective Impact” and “DEI&B Inc: Why it’s not fixed yet and what we need to do differently.”
- Clearly articulate the business case. Developing and communicating your specific business case shows why this is important for your business. It should be presented along with this being the right thing to do. Some employees may focus on one piece of the message with others focusing on another. This can also help if some people are treating this as a secondary priority. Please refer to the Business Case section at the Colorado Inclusive Economy for help in building your business case.
- Budget for this work. Prepare a budget that provides a realistic means to accomplish your DEI goals. Do not expect this work to be accomplished at no cost on top of an individual’s existing workload. Develop a plan including headcount and resources required, as you would with any other business initiative. See these Diversity and Inclusion Budgets slides from Diversity Best Practices for further guidance.
- Establish a triple bottom line. Incorporate social responsibility into your overall business strategy and measure not just your company’s financial performance, but also the social and environmental performance. See “Why inclusion is so hard for business” for more on choosing to value something more than profit.
- Promote skills-based hiring; don’t perpetuate the myth of meritocracy. Rather than eliminating qualified candidates, implementing skills-based hiring practices opens the door to more skilled candidates. Without accountability and transparency, simply labeling the status quo as a merit-based system may in fact be exacerbating the issue and increasing biases. A true meritocracy requires equality, which is not the reality today. For more detail on how to implement skills-based hiring, see “Recruiting and Hiring” and “Retention, compensation, benefits & incentives.”
Sustainable success in this long-term commitment requires seeing diversity, equity and inclusion as more than a profit-based business case.
- Read “Getting Serious About Diversity: Enough Already with the Business Case” on Harvard Business Review (article, < 10 minutes)
- Read ”Do We Still Need a Business Case for Diversity?” on Forbes (article, < 10 minutes)
- Read “Viewpoint: The Myth of Meritocracy” on The Society for Human Resource Management (article, < 10 minutes)