Despite having to wake up at the crack of dawn, nearly missing my connecting flight and fearing for my life on the taxi ride from the airport, I FINALLY made it to San Francisco and the SHRM Diversity & Inclusion Conference in time for the afternoon sessions. At first glance, the two sessions I attended – Creating a Diversity Strategy Map: Converting Intangible Assets into Tangible Outcomes and Results and Inclusion: The Future of Diversity – didn’t have much in common other than both being about diversity. However, a similar idea ran through both sessions which was that we need to change the way we think about diversity and inclusion in order to be effective change agents.
The first session came from a data perspective – what we need to know, what we need to find out and how we need to convey that information to show and prove the ROI of D&I. There was a lot of math and formulas aka the necessary evils. The speaker, Dr. Edward E. Hubbard, stressed the importance of being able to show the impact D&I has on the bottom line (“organizations speak green”) using measurable, evidence-based data. As D&I professionals, we have to know what is needed by the organization from a business standpoint but also what the business needs from a D&I standpoint. He also stressed the importance of completing a needs analysis prior to developing a D&I strategy or initiative because “if there is no need, there is no benefit.”
- A paradigm shift is needed in how we assess the utility of diversity.
- Knowing what is important to the organization and what it wants to accomplish is key.
- Diversity and inclusion initiatives must be measured by results, not activities.
FAVORITE QUOTE: You’re either at the table or on the menu.
The second session tugged more at the heartstrings than the purse strings. The speaker, Maria Arcocha White, started the session talking briefly about her experience growing up being teased because English is not her first language. She went on to discuss why we can’t stop at diversity but must focus on inclusion as well. In fact, her point of view is that the only way to get to true diversity in an organization is by starting with inclusion. Arcocha White gave us a bit of a history lesson on how organizational culture has evolved over time and explained how focusing on individuality is the first step in building the trust required to have genuine conversations.
- Think beyond visible diversity i.e. race and gender.
- Behave in ways that allow true diversity and inclusion to occur. If people have negative perceptions of ‘diversity’ use different words.
- Inclusion must be intentional.
FAVORITE QUOTE: Diversity is a fact; inclusion is an act.
Not related directly to sessions but I also had some really great conversations with vendors in the expo hall about the importance of employee happiness, being a straight ally and recruiting people with disabilities. All in all day one was a success. I expect nothing less from day two.
(Posted on SHRM Blog October 24, 2017)