December 5, 2022
If your company hasn’t yet implemented or enacted a DEI initiative, there are three straightforward reasons why now is the time. First, being diverse, equitable and including people from various backgrounds is the right thing to do. Second, it might be a legal requirement depending on your situation. Finally, it’s good for business. According to research from the Boston Consulting Group, companies with management with above-average diversity report revenue from innovation that was 19% higher than those with below-average leadership diversity. With so much upside to DEI, what’s stopping you from moving forward?
A DEI primer
Before we go further, we must have a baseline understanding of what each of these terms means. According to dei.extension.org, here’s a quick overview:
Diversity is the presence of differences that may include race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, language, (dis)ability, age, religious commitment or political perspective. Unfortunately, these populations have been and remain underrepresented among practitioners in the field and marginalized in the broader society.
Equity promotes justice, impartiality and fairness within institutions or systems’ procedures, processes and distribution of resources. Tackling equity issues requires understanding the root causes of outcome disparities within our society.
Inclusion is an outcome to ensure those who are diverse feel and/or are welcomed. Inclusion outcomes are met when you, your institution and your program are truly inviting to all. To the degree to which diverse individuals can participate fully in decision-making and development opportunities within an organization or group.
We recently spoke with Susan O’Sullivan, VP of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Ingram Micro, to learn how to practically apply the above concepts to your business.
DEI in action
One might assume you can’t kick off a DEI initiative without first having a DEI specialist on staff, but that’s not true. “I didn’t have an HR background or any special training when asked to take on this role,” reveals O’Sullivan. “I leveraged my decades of experience and tapped into the numerous online DEI resources available.”
Coming from a sales leadership background, O’Sullivan had a few things going for her. First, she had experience managing people. Second, she could already see the benefits of a diverse team. “I seek out people that look and think differently than me,” she says. “If you know your team’s strengths and weaknesses, why not find diverse people to fill the gaps and push you and others out of your comfort zones of traditional thinking?”
She goes on to say that DEI is about making sure everyone – from upper management to entry level – gets a seat at the table to bring their unique perspectives and ideas. “Business is getting harder,” she adds. “You need everyone working together to challenge the status quo and lead your company to new levels of success.”
O’Sullivan says that it’s also vital that your website speaks to your DEI initiatives. Additionally, she says, when diverse candidates are interviewed, they should be meeting with existing diverse employees. “Does your company look like a place someone with a diverse background wants to work?” she asks. “Sixty-seven percent of workers are looking for companies that highlight diversity, equity and inclusion. DEI has to be baked into your company culture to be effective.”
O’Sullivan’s last bit of advice is to act now. “It would be great if you could allocate someone full-time to DEI, but it isn’t necessary,” she says. “Anything you can do to advance diversity, equity and inclusion within your organization is a positive step forward.”
This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.
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