Make DEI part of your corporate DNA

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By Paul Raggio, One True North co-owner

DCI… diversity, equity and inclusion are the subject of much corporate discussion and trade journals, and should be.

I attended the College of the Canyons Business Alliance webinar last week, and the topic was DCI.

Two outstanding speakers from Princess Cruises gave an uplifting and evocative hour-long presentation on the importance of integrating DCI into your organizational culture. When you do, a whole host of positive actions benefit multiple ridings, the business, and ultimately the community.

Princess Cruises defines diversity as all the ways people differ and are unique in the workplace. The workforce represents a range of backgrounds, traits and experiences. Equity is fair treatment, access, opportunity and advancement for all. Seeking equity means removing obstacles that have prevented the full participation of all groups. Inclusion means operating within an organizational culture where members respect, value, encourage and protect the thoughts, words, behaviors and actions of others when the best interests of colleagues and the organization are at heart.

Inclusion means operating within an organizational culture where members respect, value, encourage and protect the thoughts, words, behaviors and actions of others when the best interests of colleagues and the organization are at heart.

Another term associated with DEIB is “membership”. The idea is that it is not enough to be included. Active members should feel a sense of belonging, their presence and contributions are valued and they believe that they also benefit from everything the organization offers to its members.

Imagine if organizations embrace this concept of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging and make it part of their corporate DNA. It doesn’t matter if the company had three or tens of thousands of people. The board, CEO and business owner preach the importance of DEIB to their constituents and deliver meaningful and impactful practices that demonstrate social and business benefits. Employee morale and productivity will soar, applicants will flock to fill open applications, customers will increase their loyalty, and the community will support and position the company as an example to follow.

However, let’s assume that the board of directors, CEO and owner of the company do not approve of DEIB. In this case, he will never appear in the ranks of the workforce and the company will experience employee unrest, disloyalty and factionalism, which will impact sales.

The presenters of Princess Cruise also presented another DCI concept with an acronym, CARE: “Consider” the goal to be achieved; “Ask” if there is an unintended impact on culture or DCI; “Rethink” the measures to be taken to mitigate the impact of EI; then, “Evaluate” how to proceed, if mitigation does not completely close the gap in achieving the goal.

They used this example: the firefighter candidate’s requirements on board include that the midshipman must carry 50 pounds over 100 yards. However, the annual certification standard for firefighters employed on board is to carry 35 pounds over 50 meters.

When using the CARE concept, first consider the goal: to recruit and hire firefighters aboard a vessel that can carry 35 pounds over 50 meters. Still, our recruiters screen out candidates who can carry 35 pounds per 50 yards, but not 50 pounds per 100 yards. Is there an unintended cultural or DCI impact? Of course. By setting the recruiting requirement for candidates to wear 50 pounds per 100 yards instead of 35 pounds per 50 yards, unintentionally, a group of people are prevented from applying for the position. In rethinking what to do to mitigate this DEI impact, an apparent resolution is to drop the firefighter application requirement from fifty pounds per hundred yards to 35 pounds per 50 yards, which is the annual certification standard.

The final step is to assess how to proceed if mitigation does not completely close the gap. In this case, matching the job seeker’s requirement to the annual firefighting certification standard eliminates the unintentional exclusion of a qualified job aspirant from having to encounter an artificial barrier.

Barriers abound in the workplace. We impose educational qualifications, physical characteristics, communication standards, work history, to name a few, that exclude a class of people from employment.

Many barriers are justified because the demands of the job are directly related to job performance. Conversely, many barriers that are unrelated to job performance are likely unintentional or, in rare cases, but specious, intentional. Therefore, these obstacles eliminate a class of people who could compete and enter the ranks of the organization.

DEIB is a worthy ideology that organizations should strive to achieve. Kudos to the College of the Canyons and Jeffrey Forrest for bringing this topic up in their monthly network of business alliances. It is time to increase our awareness and take action to correct the inequalities present in our culture, and more specifically, businesses. There is so much to gain and nothing to lose in making meaningful and impactful changes to the DEIB in our public and private sectors. The leaders of organizations must see themselves as the Chief DEIB Officer to succeed in instilling it into their corporate DNA. This is how you lead, think, plan and act.

Now let’s go!

Paul A. Raggio is co-owner, with his sister Lisa, of One True North INC Leadership and Business Coaching Solutions.


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