DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION MESSAGING: Needs of Change Must Be Recognized
Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) programs are vital to forward-thinking companies that want to attract and retain the best talent. However, it’s the lack of such efforts at some organizations that have been making headlines lately in the business press.
D&I programs are largely ineffective without a culture that drives and supports them. We’re watching business after business come under fire for mistakes that highlight a lack of understanding, sensitivity or strong ethics.
Messaging is everywhere and its 24-7. Companies who understand that messages are not just spoken, they are written, they are displayed on TV screens in the office, reflected in art and photos, and yes even in what the staff wears.
Aside from just being the right thing to do, having a company culture that’s accepting, supportive, diverse and inclusive results in better business performance. Diverse teams inspire and motivate innovation and creativity. This in turn helps organizations attract, engage and inspire the best talent.
To drive these programs, organizations need strong leaders to ensure the company culture supports D&I goals day in and day out. They have the wherewithal and the energy to lead D&I programs that make a noticeable impact. They’re excited and that passion is infectious to others in the organization. They also do what they say they will.
If you are the Diversity Leader working for a contractor or for an owner, and you make a promise to follow up and support an M/W/DBE firm, then do it. If there is a problem with engaging an M/W/DBE firm for your project, then be honest and explain what the obstacles are for better understanding and a reduction of misunderstood rejection.
D&I practitioners likely have led other aspects of the business driving transformation and change. This gives them a deeper understanding of how to build programs that will connect across the companies and into their business relationships.
Diversity Leaders you have a chance to be a positive voice of what we are doing well as well as inspiring all to pursue change. Today’s environment is about giving voice to the racial issues that still divide us. It’s about a message that we MUST change our thinking, our culture, our attitudes and our policies. As human beings we are flawed, but we are also strong and we can move the needle.
Martin Luther King Jr. said “The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.” “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
Moving forward is what we must. Take advantage of your tools to plant seeds of change. Harvest it and see it prosper. It’s never going to be sprint, as change can never happen overnight. But, working together, creating as much awareness as we can in our messaging, in our actions and in our accountability, we can bring equity to all. Inclusion is not a buzz word, it is a foundation of which we all must live day to day.