Conversations about racial equity have recently taken center stage, leading many companies to re-examine the impact of their practices on the diversity and inclusion of their employees, suppliers, and other stakeholders. With all the attention and rapid development in the diversity and inclusion space, it is important for organizations to not just evaluate this impact, but carefully consider what strategies will be effective in overcoming their unique issues. Read more to learn how to identify these strategies and the key partnerships that will help ensure success.
EVALUATE YOUR SUPPORT STRUCTURES & NETWORKS
For years the HACR Research Institute (HRI) has engaged companies on their needs and challenges with Hispanic inclusion. Although we have seen progress across our four pillars of economic reciprocity (employment, procurement, philanthropy, and governance), there are several areas which have been slow to change. A sometimes-repeated refrain to explain the lack of change has been, “We can’t find qualified Hispanic [candidates, interns, suppliers, executives, etc.].” What we have observed in our evaluations of company practices has been that missing, underutilized, or neglected support structures are preventing companies from reaping the benefits of increased inclusivity. These structures and networks cut across each of our four pillars:
- Having supplier development initiatives
- Incentivizing Tier 2 supplier diversity
- If certification is required, helping diverse suppliers obtain certification
- Collecting information on community investments by demographic group
- Conducting impact evaluations by issue and community
- Engaging ERGs to help create community investment and engagement strategies
- Using external recruiters to fill board and executive positions
- Evaluating exempt and non-exempt employee needs separately
- Including performance bonuses for diversity and inclusion professionals
Observations in these areas informed our decision to choose “Harnessing Support Networks” as the theme for the 2020 HACR Corporate Inclusion Index (CII) Report. The report is due out on September 29th, but in the meantime, here are two recommendations born out of this year’s data:
1. If you have a gap, consider incorporating diverse slates
In most cases, intently considering underrepresented candidates for internship, employment, leadership, contract, grant, and many other opportunities will result in increased diversity. Often what keeps these candidates out of the running is not being seen by decision makers, so an intentional effort to overcome some of the biases and hurdles inherent among gatekeepers is required. It is important to understand that considering diverse slates in candidate selection is not preferential selection of diverse candidates or setting “quotas.” It is ensuring that diverse candidates (despite their pedigree, network affiliations, or background) get a chance for consideration by decision makers.
2. Nothing without 'us'
One glaring and often missed opportunity is including stakeholders in the decision-making process. If you’re looking to improve retention and employee satisfaction, have an honest conversation with your ERGs and other employee groups to find out what may be causing employees to leave. If you’re looking to increase the diversity of your suppliers, talk with diverse suppliers and their associations to find out what their needs and challenges are. If you’re looking to start a philanthropic initiative in a community, bring community leaders into your strategy meetings to inform (and preferably direct) where services and resources are needed. There are plenty of opportunities to bring in stakeholder voices and, in that way, streamline resource allocation and goal attainment.
I am often asked for industry solutions to diversity and inclusion challenges and I always start these conversations by say, “there are no one size fits all solutions to these problems." For companies, a key component to figuring out what diversity and inclusion efforts work is to “know thyself.” Measuring and evaluating internal programs and processes and measuring the effects (intended and otherwise) they are having on stakeholders will facilitate effective goal attainment and success. While self-evaluation and reflection are important, it's also important to remember that it is a continuing practice. As times change, so do the challenges we face (see the year that has been 2020). Doing so will ensure that your practices can weather whatever may come.