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Lead Back to Center Through D&I

Lead Back to Center Through D&I

Now it is more important than ever for leaders to expand and embed diversity and inclusion practices throughout their organizations. Sound extreme? It’s not.

Here’s why.

We are all having polarizing experiences right now. Ways of working that got us and our companies this far have gone out the window overnight.

I guarantee no two of your employees are experiencing this pandemic the same way, and unless you employ only a handful of people, it would be impossible for you to know what it has been like for them, what is sustainable going forward, and what is not.

Your customers, clients, and business partners are going through the same thing in all their own different ways, putting you at risk for getting seriously out of sync. That leaves real money on the table. A very scary thought at a time when none of us can afford to lose a single piece of business.

[Related: Taking Control: Managing Your Business Finances]

If you prioritize diversity and inclusion, however, you can get your business — employees, customers, clients, and business partners — back to center.

How exactly? D&I at its core focuses on incorporating historically marginalized employees into the organization. Done well, this happens not only in terms of numbers, but also in having a real voice in all important discussions. D&I fosters a culture of equal treatment, regardless of which demographic any one employee represents, because their input is equally valuable.

Great Place to Work identifies key D&I employee groups as women, people of color, front-line workers, hourly male workers, and long-tenured employees — all hugely impacted by the pandemic.

Their data shows that during the 2007-2009 recession, “Companies whose key employee groups had very positive experiences posted a remarkable 14.4 percent gain” in stock performance. That’s compared to the S&P 500 dropping 35.5% over the same period.

I can’t imagine a more clear rallying cry for doubling down on diversity and inclusion.

[Related: Elevating Female Voices of Color in the Social Good Sector]

If you had to reduce your workforce due to the pandemic, there is a good chance you have impacted your diversity numbers negatively…and they may not have been at an ideal balance to begin with.

Data shows over and over that women and people of color are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic in terms of job losses, pay reduction, and health. If this has happened in your organization, you have lost vital inputs for growth, innovation, and risk management.

Focus on D&I as your path back to center and the rest will click into place.

Bring those key employee groups into the fold - listen, reflect, don’t assume you know what they are going through. Prioritize getting their input and providing them support, and make sure the information they share is funneled into actionable steps. Build their engagement. Make sure they are connected into brainstorming and outreach to customers, clients, and business partners.

This will create your company’s compass for moving forward.

[Related: When DE&I is an "Initiative," It's at High Risk for Being Cut]

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Throughout her twenty-five-year career, Michelle Bogan has mentored colleagues and clients, founded and led women's groups, and helped promote many women and men to leadership positions. In 2018, she founded Equity for Women to advance the mission of empowering women at work.


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