What is your most pressing need with equity, diversity and inclusion in your organization today?
We asked People Managers and CEOs what the most pressing issue in equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) was in their organizations and received some of their best insights. From creating an inclusive environment for innovation to balancing EDI with meritocracy, there are several needs that are at the forefront of the EDI agenda of business leaders today.
Here are the most pressing needs with EDI today shared by 8 leaders:
- Create a Truly Inclusive Cultural Environment for Innovation
- Find and Assimilate Those Who Don't Fit
- Increase The Number of Women in Leadership Roles
- Find Resources To Meet Diversity Training Goals
- Expand The Scope of Our Community Outreach
- Give Underrepresented Communities a Seat at The Table
- Bring Richness To The Fabric of The DEI Culture
- Balance Diversity and Inclusion With Meritocracy
1. Create a Truly Inclusive Cultural Environment for Innovation
Innovation is critical to the success of any organization, particularly in today's rapidly changing landscape. A diverse team brings a wealth of perspectives and experiences that can help to generate new ideas and solve problems in creative ways. However, true innovation requires more than just a diverse group of people; it also requires an environment where everyone feels included and respected. Only then can each individual feel comfortable sharing their unique perspectives. Creating such an environment is a challenge, but it is one that I believe is essential to the success of any organization. Equity and inclusion are therefore critical components of creating an innovative business.
2. Find and Assimilate Those Who Don't Fit
We would like to include a couple of what we feel are overlooked groups in our organization. There are three that come to mind and they are those exiting the legal system, veterans just coming out of the military, and disabled people either physically disabled or special needs people. Our company recognizes that these people do have knowledge and skills to offer but often have a difficult time finding a place where they "fit." We think they can be trained for certain tasks we need that happen to suit their specific skills and abilities. I also think having them as part of our team would help the company grow in its mission and reach.
Bruce Tasios, CEO, Tasios Orthodontics
3. Increase The Number of Women in Leadership Roles
The most pressing need with diversity, equity and inclusion in my organization today is the need to increase the number of women in leadership roles. The first step we took was to ensure that our hiring practices reflected a commitment to diversity and inclusion, which meant that we looked for candidates who were not only qualified but also represented a diverse set of backgrounds. To help facilitate this change, we launched a program called "Women Leading Change" which provides training to women who are interested in moving up through the ranks of our organization. This program has been very successful so far, as we've seen an increase in women applying for leadership positions.
4. Find Resources To Meet Diversity Training Goals
It can be difficult for small businesses on a budget to find the resources to educate employees on the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. Many specialized corporate coaches and speakers are expensive – so small businesses need to work with what they have. Whether it's circulating a thought-provoking TED talk around the office or encouraging open discussion regarding equity and related topics, there are still ways for leadership to foster education among teams, despite working within a small budget.
5. Expand The Scope of Our Community Outreach
Expanding the scope of our community outreach initiative. Over the past several years, we have revolutionized the way we do business by leveraging the power of remote work to expand our talent pool. This has led to the foundation of Community Made, our sustainable clothing pipeline that connects talented sewers, technicians, and artisans to create premium handmade products in the United States. There is still more work to be done, but knowing that our business is directly combating many of the social and economic issues plaguing our country gives me hope.
6. Give Underrepresented Communities a Seat at The Table
As a remote startup, the most pressing need for DE&I within our company is having more opportunities to diversify our candidate pools for job openings. We have some great resources for women (Elpha, Hire Tech Ladies) but I would love to see more focus on other groups that are often under-represented in tech such as POC and the disability community. It would be great to see the big recruiting tools that tech companies use to make an effort to make sure more people have a seat at the table.
8. Bring Richness to The Fabric of Our DEI Culture
Diversity comes in many shapes and sizes, and it's essential that, as leaders, we do not get stuck in one or a few definitions of diversity. When we do that, we limit how our workplaces can create equity and access so that our process, procedures, and ultimately our culture is more inclusive and genuinely makes a space of belonging for everyone. This work takes time, patience, and a proper understanding of various diversity dimensions that may be outside our comfort zone, and we are okay with that as that is when real change can occur.
Through our DEI goals for 2022, we are continuing to challenge, question, and evolve what DEI can be and look like so that we are creating, building, and nurturing a DEI-first culture.
8. Balance Diversity and Inclusion With Meritocracy
My most pressing need with diversity, equity and inclusion in my organization today is to balance DE&I with meritocracy. We're so focused on looking at the numbers that we're losing sight of what's important: getting the best people for the job. We've got to ensure that we aren't only looking at race, gender, and other identity markers when deciding who gets hired. We also have to ensure that we're hiring based on merit - that is, on actual performance and accomplishments. If a candidate is more qualified than another but they don't fit into a particular demographic, then they should be hired over someone who isn't as qualified but does fit into that demographic. We need to strike a balance between ideals and reality when it comes to hiring practices.
Learn more about our EDI in Action Series that can help you grow your organization's EDI efforts, extend the EDI conversation more broadly within your organization and establish a base of EDI knowledge and shared language across all of your employee groups.