Ten attributes and skills of successful DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) Leaders

On October 19, I participated in a “Diversity Officers Roundtable” as part of the two day virtual panel discussion as part of the Energy Diversity and Inclusion Council’s Energy Industry DEI Summit. Miracle Johnson did a superb job of moderating the panel that included myself and two outstanding Chief Diversity Officers, Kelli J. Scott of First Energy and Ray Stringer of Constellation Energy.

We kicked off the panel discussing the huge increase we have seen in company DEI efforts and the demand for having a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO.) Between the three of us on the panel, we came up with ten key skills or competencies we felt were need to be a successful CDO:

1) Understanding the business you are serving in. It is crucial to connect DEI to the overall business strategy and to understand the diversity dynamics of the industry in which you are working.

2) Consultative skills to be able to work with senior leaders across every function to actualize the impact of DEI on the overall business strategy and their own functional areas.

3) Having grit and courage. (See my recent blog about courage.) DEI work is not easy; there are many challenges and hard topics to address.

4) Perseverance, which goes along with grit. DEI work is a long never-ending journey; it is a marathon, not a sprint.

5) Operational savvy. In addition to driving DEI strategy, you need to be able to manage execution and operationalize DEI. This also includes being focused on the outcomes you are working to achieve.

6) Empathy. There are a wide range of issues in the world, in the country and in the workplace that have real impact on different diverse people and constituencies. It is important to understand how:
• working at home and managing kids may impact working women
• how the frequent murders of young black men impact black employees
• how the explosion of various state anti-LGTBQ+ laws impact your LGBTQ+ employees.

7) The ability to work with a wide range of increasingly diverse employee populations; e.g. cultural intelligence. Working effectively with a wide range of people is what diversity is all about!

I am one of the facilitators for NDC’s certification program, one way of building key CDO knowledge and skills

8) Enrollment. Being able to get people at all levels, from the individual contributors to managers to executives engaged and bought into DEI efforts.

9) Being open minded, creative and innovative.

10) Investing in the needed education and skills building for a career in a fast-changing field. This can include college curriculum, conferences, and certification programs like the National Diversity Council’s DiversityFIRST™ Certification Program.

If you aspire to be a DEI leader in the workplace, or a CDO, perhaps evaluate yourself across these ten skills and consider enrolling in the NDC’s DiversityFIRST™ Certification Program.

Diversity and Inclusion Training – No Longer Optional: A Guest Blog

Diversity and Inclusion Training is more critical than ever!

I do like to publish guest blogs from time to time on my consulting topics of diversity, career development and leadership.  Here is the latest from Carol Pang from findcourses.com.  Also I myself offer a wide range of customized diversity training for my clients!

In the wake of the events of summer 2020 when the Black Lives Matter movement reached a peak after the killing of George Floyd, diversity and inclusion has come to the forefront of many companies’ priorities. Recent research by LinkedIn shows that while overall C-suite hiring fell 18% in 2020 year-on-year in the US, the hiring of chief diversity officers (CDO) grew 84% as a proportion of total C-suite hires.

Why should companies care about diversity and inclusion training?  It’s clear that organizations can no longer ignore diversity training at the workplace. Research by findcourses.com shows exactly why that’s the case.

Seventy-two percent of companies offering D&I training experienced financial growth. These companies are more likely to have a high level of diversity in their workforce compared to the companies who didn’t see any growth in the same period.

For Merck, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, D&I is not just the right thing to do. “When thinking about our mission, there’s strength in our differences,” says Texanna Reeves, Executive Director of the Global Diversity and Inclusion Center of Excellence at Merck.

Apart from having to translate medicine packaging into different languages, Merck has to consider how the medicine will be received culturally. For a company like Merck, which has a presence in 120 countries, having different cultural voices at the table provides a significant competitive advantage when making major decisions.

How to grow diversity and inclusion in your workplace?   You may be convinced of the benefits of offering equality and diversity training at your company but you’re wondering what’s the best way to go about it. Read on for 3 great tips on how some companies are leading the charge in implementing meaningful and effective D&I programs.

Tip 1. Deploy a multi-pronged inclusion approach.  The most effective D&I training programs are multi-pronged, just like the top leadership or sales training programs. For BCG Digital Ventures’, a corporate investment and incubation firm founded by BCG, formal training on unconscious bias is only one piece of the puzzle. The company also offers employee resource groups where employees who share identities, as well as allies, can get together and discuss the issues that come up for them at work and elsewhere.

In a recent celebration of LGBTQ+ pride, BCG DV put up Kinsey scales (which show the spectrum of sexual orientation) inside bathroom stalls. Employees are invited to anonymously mark where they fall on the scale. Max Avruch, BCG DV’s learning and organizational development specialist, says, “It was a way for us to show diversity on our walls and to show people there is a spectrum around orientation.”

Avruch emphasized that the company culture stems from its embrace of “radical inclusion” – an approach that aims to embrace diversity in a genuine way, not as a mandatory HR initiative. “It’s the notion of really trying to include everyone and not feeling like there’s segregation that can easily happen in a work-type community,” Avruch says.

Tip 2. Be proactive in addressing unconscious bias.  One of Merck’s D&I initiatives is the Unconscious Bias Education Toolkit. This toolkit is an arsenal of resources that aims to tackle the unconscious bias that can occur during the hiring process.

The resources in the toolkit facilitate D&I training in an easily digestible way with videos under 3 minutes and training sessions below 30 minutes. Reeves says, “We’re really empowering our leaders to take ownership of it. The key is to be able to make it simple enough but effective so that they will truly utilize these resources.”

Merck aims to challenge their employees to take a proactive approach to being consciously inclusive. Thus, apart from the toolkit, Merck also incorporates lunch-and-learns, interactive theater and virtual reality into their D&I training programs.

Now you can harness virtual reality technology in your training.

Tip 3. Harness the technology of virtual reality.  Virtual reality is a great way to implement D&I training at your company. VR allows employees to practice their learning in a safe environment. For example, in a VR scenario, the user can be of a different race or gender or in a wheelchair. The user then experiences what it’s like to be confronted by someone who is displaying prejudice toward them.

Danny Belch is the Chief Strategy Officer at STRIVR, a VR coaching company with roots out of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab. Belch recommends that organizations who are interested in using VR in their D&I training “take some time and work with some companies who have been doing this for a while, as they know what’s worked and hasn’t worked in VR.” Belch adds, “This should be a collaborative effort. The VR people should not be creating the D&I training and the D&I people can’t create the VR training.”

Final thoughts.  If you’ve been hesitating, now is the time to get behind the idea of implementing and enhancing D&I training at your workplace. It’s not just the right thing to do. Once you start the process of implementing D&I training initiatives, you will begin to reap the business benefits of having a workforce that has a high level of diversity training.

About the author:  Carol Pang is a Digital Content Editor for findcourses.com. Prior to this, she has 12 years of experience in the corporate and financial sectors. She believes that people are fundamental to an organization’s success, and that effective training can create a motivated and engaged workforce.

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Here are two of my blogs about diversity training:

Components of Diversity Training

Contents of Diversity Training