Since the tragic events last May involving the killing of George Floyd, and the mass nationwide protests that followed, America has experienced an overdue awakening in the role of racism in this country. For the first time in history, companies seemed to finally acknowledge the role that racism has played in corporate America and perhaps even their contribution to this epidemic. However, in a strange twist of events, instead of actively working to address these shortcomings and recruit & promote underserved groups, the pendulum seems to have shifted to performative change.
From June 2020 to the present, there has been a wave of new or revamped Diversity & Inclusion roles and positions within organizations. Releasing diversity reports and numbers has been a trending topic. But outside of these largely symbolic movements, organizations still seem to be struggling to understand exactly how racism has played a huge part in the day-to-day dynamics of corporate America, and the vast changes that are necessary to address it. Organizations have still failed to step up in the big ways that minorities are really seeking, and that is investing money and resources into correcting these injustices. Instead, the Chief D&I officers are largely left with unclear paths forward, limited to no resources and no real budget to achieve these changes. Worse still, Black employees are routinely being asked to help lead these efforts for free, with no real experience or empowerment to drive these changes, and no reprieve from their daily job duties. This creates a precarious predicament, and doesn’t position organizations to receive the valuable and often difficult feedback and analysis necessary to drive real change.
What is required to address the lack of diversity and inclusivity present in corporate America? And how can organizations create actual impactful change? As a leader in Diversity & Inclusion consulting, Precise Process Consulting has put together a list of 3 key steps that companies can take today to shift the narrative.
- Hire a Professional- Asking your Black employees to sit on panels or lead an internal analysis on D&I is not going to create the impactful culture shifts that your organization needs or lead to any real substantial findings (these are employees working at the same organization they are being asked to critically analyze, an albeit awkward position from which to disclose hard truths). In order to create real change, you need assistance from an expert. A new Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer is great but given that most of these positions have been fairly dormant in the past, you must seek qualified D&I experts to assist in effectively driving and outlining this change. These professionals should also be representative of the type of change you are seeking. DON’T contract a Big 4 consulting firm with a complete lack of representation at the leadership level and expect them to be impactful D&I leaders. They can’t lead what they can’t do themselves. This is the time to be diligent about diversifying your suppliers, finding Black, Hispanic, Asian, and woman owned consulting firms and advisors to help lead this charge.
- Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is- In order to create a change and help correct the decades or centuries rather of discrimination, organizations MUST be willing to invest the capital. Consumers are watching and paying attention. Diversity is not longer a nice to have, as 70% of consumers have indicated that a company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion would be a contributing factor in their decision to do business with a company. Racially insensitive marketing campaigns or social media posts are costing companies much more than they know. Vogue recently came under intense fire for the lack of women of color who grace the cover, and the lackluster effort put into VP Kamala Harris’ own cover appearance, which turned into a viral disaster. This can all be corrected by investing the money to address these issues before they happen. These funds may be strategically sourced to diversity & culture training, recruitment, retention, and a long-term roadmap.
- Accept Some Hard Truths- This discovery process is inevitably going to lead to some difficult truths. The fact is most organizations don’t know how their employees or customers truly feel. And leaning into change can feel shocking and overwhelming at first. This is normal. The important thing is that you are actively working to change it. If the first D&I assessment reveals some ugly truths that you weren’t aware of, don’t dismiss it, truly try to engage and understand it. There isn’t a shortage of diverse talent, there is however a shortage of opportunities and investment in skill-honing among underrepresented groups. Truly assess what investments, if any, your organization has made into addressing these inequalities and access issues.
This is a unique time, the world is demanding change, but many organizations are unsure of how to implement the necessary adjustments. However, the worst action is often inaction. It is time to look past just the creation of Diversity & Inclusion roles and understand the culture that is driving these harmful oppressive trends to begin with. Then and only then can companies begin to benefit from a more diverse organization with equal access to opportunity. But in the meantime, please don’t ask your Black employees to help lead this effort for free.
If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about how targeted Diversity Consulting may benefit your organization, please feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a complimentary consultation.