Inclusion Is ‘Everybody’s Job,’ Minnesota Chamber Panel Says
For businesses big and small, diversity is no longer a one-person job. That was one of the takeaways from a Thursday web panel convened by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.
Shane Lloyd, chief diversity officer at global accounting giant Baker Tilly, said diverse teams under inclusive leaders tend to outperform homogenous teams in the long run – an oft-cited claim backed by studies from McKinsey & Co., among others. That means that diversity is, necessarily, a team effort.
“I think some of our leaders think, ‘Oh, it’s not my job,’ but it’s actually everybody’s job to help advance inclusion,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd was joined by Colette Campbell, chief talent acquisition and diversity officer at St. Paul-based Bremer Bank. Whitney Harvey, senior director of workforce diversity and inclusion, moderated the conversation.
When it comes to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts into the workplace, Lloyd said leaders need to have their own elevator pitch for why diversity is important to them. That’s simply because customers and the general public are typically interacting with company leaders more often than they’re interacting with the chief diversity officer.
Lloyd added that it’s not enough for leaders to just listen and learn.
“How are you going to evolve your practice so people don’t see listening and learning as rhetoric, but they see that listening and learning is tied to particular outcomes and changes?” Lloyd said.
Lloyd suggested a few places to start corporate DEI efforts. For one, companies can put together a team “rules of conduct.” Instead of coming onto a team with assumptions, team members should take the time to go over often unspoken assumptions to get everyone on the same page, Lloyd said. This might mean discussing specific concepts such as respect, trust, conflict resolution, feedback, innovation, and dissent.
Secondly, leaders should create a leadership user manual for other team members where the leaders go over their own strengths, how they like to receive feedback, how they approach work, and other relevant information.
Still, why should executives care about diversity efforts? Campbell noted that the workforce is becoming increasingly more diverse. If companies don’t keep up with appropriate DEI measures, they’ll find acquisition and retention of talent increasingly more difficult.
Campbell suggested companies create three buckets: hiring, workplace, and the community. Then, they can create specific goals for each of the buckets.
Campbell also suggested that companies find practitioners they trust to help with DEI efforts.
But she warned against trying to fix everything at once as it’s neither practical nor sustainable. She also warned against making DEI work polarizing.
“Start where you are at,” Campbell said. “But you have to start because if you haven’t started on this journey, you’re behind.”