By Paul Raggio, co-owner One True North
DEI … diversity, equity and inclusion, is the subject of many corporate discussions and professional journals, and well should be.
I attended the College of the Canyons Business Alliance webinar this past week, and the topic was DEI.
Two exceptional speakers from Princess Cruises gave an uplifting and evocative, hourlong presentation on the importance of pouring DEI into your organizational culture. When you do, a whole host of positive actions benefit multiple constituencies, the enterprise 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 the fair treatment, access, opportunity and advancement for all people. Seeking equity means driving out barriers that have prevented the full participation of all groups. Inclusion means operating within an organizational culture where the members respect, value, encourage and protect the thoughts, words, behaviors and actions of others when the best interests of coworkers and the organization are at heart.
Another term associated with DEIB is “Belonging.” The notion is that it’s not enough to be included. Vested members must feel a sense of belonging, their presence and contributions are valued, and they believe they equally benefit from all the organization offers its members.
Imagine if organizations embrace this concept of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging and make it part of their corporate DNA. No matter if the enterprise was three or tens of thousands of people. The board of directors, CEO and business owner preach the importance of DEIB to their constituencies and deliver meaningful and impactful practices that demonstrate the social and business benefit. Employee morale and productivity will skyrocket, job applicants will flock to fill open requisitions, customers will increase their loyalty, and the community will support and position the business as an example to follow.
However, suppose the board of directors, CEO and business owner don’t embrace DEIB. In this case, it will never appear within the workforce ranks, and the enterprise will suffer employee turmoil, disloyalty and factionalism, eventually impacting sales.
Princess Cruise presenters also introduced another DEI concept with an acronym, CARE: “Consider” the intended goal to achieve; “Ask” if there is any unintended culture or DEI impact; “Rethink” what actions to take to mitigate the DEI impact; then, “Evaluate” how to proceed, if mitigation does not fully address the gap in achieving the goal.
They used this example: Shipboard firefighter applicant requirements include the aspirant must carry 50 pounds for 100 yards. However, the annual certification standard for employed shipboard firefighters is to carry 35 pounds for 50 yards.
Using the CARE concept, first consider the intended goal: recruit and hire shipboard firefighters who can carry 35 pounds for 50 yards. Yet, our recruiters eliminate applicants who can carry 35 pounds for 50 yards, but not 50 pounds for 100 yards. Is there an unintended cultural or DEI impact? Of course. By setting the recruiting requirement for applicants to carry 50 pounds for 100 yards instead of 35 pounds for 50 yards, unintendedly, a group of people is eliminated from applying for the job. Rethinking what actions to take in mitigating this DEI impact, an apparent resolution is to drop the firefighter application requirement from carrying fifty pounds for one hundred yards to carrying 35 pounds for 50 yards, matching the annual certification standard.
The final step is to evaluate how to proceed if the mitigation does not fully address the gap. In this case, matching the job applicant requirement to the firefighting annual certification standard eliminates the unintended exclusion of a qualified job aspirant from having to meet an artificial barrier.
Barriers abound in the workplace. We impose educational degrees, physical characteristics, communication standards, employment history, to name just a few, that exclude a class of people from employment.
Many barriers are justified because the job requirements directly correlate to job performance. Conversely, many obstacles that do not relate to job performance are likely unintended, or in fewer, yet specious cases, intended. Consequently, these obstacles eliminate a class of people who could compete and enter the organization’s ranks.
DEIB is a worthy ideology that organizations must strive to achieve. Bravo to the College of the Canyons and Jeffrey Forrest for teeing up this subject in their monthly business alliance network. It’s time to increase our awareness and take action to correct the inequities present in our culture, and more narrowly, businesses. There is so much to gain and nothing to lose in making meaningful and impactful DEIB changes in our public and private sectors. Leaders of organizations must consider themselves the Chief DEIB Officer to successfully inculcate it into their corporate DNA. This is how you lead, think, plan and act.
Now, let’s get after it!
Paul A. Raggio is co-owner, with his sister Lisa, of One True North INC Leadership and Business Coaching Solutions.