Experts Consider the Need for and Promotion of Corporate Diversity
Advocacy From an active, equal-opportunity pipeline all the way up to the C-suite, having a diverse set of talent is a challenge too few business leaders take on.
We asked Cid Wilson, Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility’s president and CEO, and Cheryl Crazy Bull, the president of American Indian College Fund, to answer the pressing questions about inclusion and equality in the workforce. From education up through the hiring process, here’s where they think the real work needs to be done.
What is the biggest challenge in diversity and inclusion?
Cheryl Crazy Bull: Ensuring that all people are represented when solving a problem or tackling an issue. Education is the keystone that equips Native Americans and all citizens to participate in the decision-making processes that impact their lives and their communities.
Cid Wilson: Currently, the biggest challenge is the new administration. There is no question that President Trump has created a political environment that has been counterproductive to diversity and inclusion. The Trump Administration is not the model for corporate America to follow.
Now is the time for corporate America to double down on diversity. Time will show that companies that foster and champion diversity and inclusion will have a competitive business advantage compared to companies that do not.
What can readers do in their communities and at work to create a more diverse culture?
CB: We can learn to be better listeners so we hear the voices of all people in our country and learn from each other. Native Americans have unique perspectives that can enhance our nation in many different ways. Change occurs most effectively at the grass-roots level within communities, and that only happens when all voices are represented, heard and considered.
CW: There are many things readers can do to make an immediate impact in their communities and in the workplace to create a more diverse culture. First, you should be active and engaged. Don’t wait for someone else to start a new diversity initiative if it doesn’t exist.
Second, build diversity alliances by bridging relationships with other ethnic groups. By constructing collaborations in the community and the workplace, it will promote a more unified and stronger diversity-embracing culture. Third, if you are the only person in a meeting or forum representing a diverse community, you have a moral obligation to speak up, do not be silent and do not be the last person from your community to be present.
What can organizations do to improve diversity and inclusion?
CB: They can create an environment where diversity is embraced and inclusion is expected: invest in hiring and retaining a diverse workforce and create a pipeline to employment that’s designed to accommodate the unique needs of minority populations. Remember that sometimes your best candidate may come from a rural area, and by excluding rural candidates you are missing an opportunity to engage talented employees and interns.
CW: First, organizations need to understand the importance of diversity and inclusion, make a commitment and do the work. This includes being transparent and participating in diversity surveys which measure inclusion rates for minorities, in the areas of employment, procurement, philanthropy and governance. Companies should use these reports to help guide their diversity action plans. Companies should also development their talent and build a robust pipeline of future corporate leaders.
What is the most important diversity and inclusion goal today?
CB: Equitable access to resources. We work for equitable access to education. Sending someone into the world without an education is like sending a carpenter to build a house without tools. An education provides the necessary skills and tools to survive and thrive in today’s world.
CW: Today, the most important diversity and inclusion goal is to accelerate progress. The needle is not moving at the same speed as the shifting demographics in the United States. Companies need to develop diversity and inclusion strategies to strengthen their corporate foundation, develop their talent, address new challenges, foster diversity of thought, but most importantly to promote an inclusive environment.