Diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI, has been around for 60 years since the birth of equal employment opportunity and affirmative action in the 1960s. Equitable employers are able to create diverse and inclusive workplaces where employees can share unique perspectives, respect one another's individual needs and reach their full potential without barriers
During the past few years, though, it has come into greater focus due to cultural awareness, demographic shifts and current events.
“When the Goerge Floyd incident happened, an employee of mine made a Facebook post, and I had no idea of the fear she was going through, specifically for her son,” said Adam Edwards, CEO at Telarus. “My concern was that an employee was feeling that fear.”
Edwards was part of a panel discussion moderated by Brandon Knight, Vice President, Advanced Solutions, Contact Center at Telarus, at ITEXPO 2022.
Today, DEI is needing to go beyond training modules, mentorship programs and new policies. It actually has to be put into practice. A company can be inclusive by saying they provide the required mentorship programs, but they need to have actual practices in place. Practicing DEI daily will enable workers to take that mindset out of the office, making an impact within the community.
“The inclusion programs you have at your organization goes home,” said Kelli McMillan, Director, Global partners, Five9. “It goes to grocery stores. We need to span out more into our communities.”
In addition to addressing current issues, DEI and allyship initiatives also improve the bottom line. McKinsey reports that the most diverse companies outperform their less diverse counterparts by as much as 36%.
“On my team, I have two women, a Latina and woman of color. I have two men, one is white and one is a man of color,” said Quismet Fernandez-Sanchez, director, partner sales, Comcast Business. “We are an amazing team. We rely on each other. When I am not around, they don’t need me at all. This is what the future should be.”
Ronnell Richards, president, Ronnell Richards LLC and Business & Bourbon, agreed saying that it is proven teams will be more productive if they are more diverse, bringing in more revenue.
Regardless of their organizations or roles, the panelists agree that DEI initiatives will be critical to organizations’ success going forward and the sooner businesses prioritize them, the sooner they will create better, more cohesive, and more productive workplaces.
Edited by Erik Linask