More than 40 individuals from 12 Member Companies joined a half-day virtual session this week to discuss mobilizing inclusion and adopting behaviors of inclusive leaders as part of the Council’s Inclusion & Diversity Business Champion Program.
Throughout the day, participants learned and shared approaches to embedding inclusion in talent programs, including recruitment, management, retention and development.
“Once you have your inclusion and diversity strategy, it’s important to update employee development programs,” said one participant. “That communicates that the I&D strategy is a priority and that all employees will be accountable to implement and follow the desired values and behaviors.”
Leadership plays a critical role in turning inclusion and diversity goals into tangible change within organizations, which means a key part of a successful inclusion and diversity strategy is establishing the inclusion competency and expectations to managers.
“Managers need to understand their responsibilities. This includes modeling inclusive behaviors, examining work practices through an inclusion lens, answering questions and offering learning opportunities to help change minds and achieve buy-in on inclusion.”Seminar Participant
Companies that have had success implementing inclusion and diversity programs use a variety of learning formats that help communicate the value of I&D, the session facilitator Pat Lipovski, Envision Group, said. These include facilitator-led trainings to have an outside source present new values and concepts, online learning to focus on new values and concepts, and mentorship to partner those who embody the values with those struggling to adopt them.
In breakout sessions, participants agreed it is important for companies to examine work practices throughout the organization with the goal of finding ways to be more inclusive.
“Everyone has a role in creating an inclusive environment, but biases and systemic barriers can prevent or short-circuit action.”Seminar Participant
The work practices examination could include leaders analyzing how they distribute responsibilities on projects, how they communicate to distribute information, how to organize and lead team meetings, and how they recognize and acknowledge high performers on their team.
The wide-ranging conversation covered an array of topics, including strategy and operations, establishing and maintaining the organization’s culture, talent management, creating policies that encourage high performance, and implementing initiatives that address learning and development in the workplace. These are all areas where companies can follow best practices to foster an organizational culture that values diversity and supports an inclusive environment.
Participants emphasized that inclusion and diversity is a journey without a specific end point. As companies make progress, it’s important to sustain the conversation around inclusion.
“We need to watch the advancement of our inclusion efforts and regularly check in with how the team is feeling. We want to track quantifiable data to monitor progress and identify areas where we can continue to improve.”Seminar Participant
The Council provides Member Companies with resources and support to aid in their inclusion and diversity efforts. In June, the Council published an updated inclusion and diversity study showing progress in gender diversity despite the pandemic and setting a baseline for racial and ethnic representation in the sector.
Registration has begun for the 2022 Inclusion & Diversity Business Champion Program, which begins in March. For questions or additional information, contact Council COO Molly Determan.
Kevin Broom, Director Communications and Research, writes about the Council’s sector-specific best practices and leadership. Click here to subscribe to the Council’s newsletter, which highlights industry practices, workforce development, Council activities and more.