How to Develop Leadership Skills When Building Diverse Teams [Podcast]

At this point, it’s well known that building diverse teams of employees offers a competitive advantage to organizations everywhere. It’s hard to argue with the stats. For example, research shows that inclusive teams outperform peers by 80 percent in team assessments. Ethnically-diverse organizations are 35 percent more likely to financially surpass their peers. And companies with more women in top management experience higher returns on investment than those with less.

If leaders want to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), they need to hone their skills to get the best results out of their current employees and attract diverse candidates. Not doing so could mean the difference between the success and failure of their businesses.

Our Guests: Entrepreneurs Rosaleen Blair and Stasia Mitchell

On the latest #WorkTrends podcast, I spoke with Rosaleen Blair and Stasia Mitchell, entrepreneurs with decades of experience in their respective fields. Rosaleen is the founder and chair of AMS, where she was CEO for 23 years, and is a serial entrepreneur, having invested in and advised many organizations, as well as offered coaching and mentoring services to growth businesses. Stasia leads the global entrepreneurship program at EY across 64 countries and has more than 20 years of experience working in EMEIA and the Americas. She brings a global mindset to her work and helps support the global entrepreneurial ecosystem.

As the “great resignation” rears its head, building diverse teams should be at the forefront of leaders’ minds. Employees are demanding that leaders celebrate differences and take an interest in the unique needs of individuals. If people give so much of themselves to work, they want to see their work give something back.

“Because of the pandemic, employees have a new expectation for work … They want to be thought of as individuals–human beings–and not just a part of the headcount,” Rosaleen says. “They want to feel commitment from their leaders. This can come in the form of an investment in their growth and skills, career mobility, or even support for their personal wellbeing. Empathy is critical.”

To meet these new employee expectations, employers should be curious, says Stasia, especially when it comes to diversity. Learning about differences can allow your organization to excel.

“Leaders need to be extremely curious, be open to possibilities of solutioning around creating and ensuring collaborative, diverse teams,” says Stasia. “Listening is so powerful. Learn from these diverse groups of people.”

Defining Diversity and the Importance of Role Models

When it comes to DEI initiatives, it’s important that employers make decisions about what diversity means to them. Then, set goals to achieve.

“I think we all agree that people are the foundation for any great organization,” Stasia says. “We all need to be ready to define what diversity means to us as organizations, and stick to that definition. Stay accountable, make it measurable. The most important thing is we’ve got to make positive progress together.”

One great way to begin building diverse teams is to show people that opportunities are open to everyone. In the case of women’s equality, Rosaleen suggests encouraging women to lean in and take projects across global initiatives and activities. This allows women to see themselves in roles they wouldn’t have before. Organizations can give female employees opportunities to represent organizations externally too–which allows them to build their profiles and create strong networks.

“From my experience, role models are key. If you can’t see it, you can’t be it,” Rosaleen says. “Celebrating the success of female role models and creating the space to ensure that all voices are heard is important.”

I hope you enjoy this episode of #WorkTrends, sponsored by EY, one of the largest professional services networks in the world. You can learn more about building diverse teams by reaching out to Rosaleen and Stasia on LinkedIn. Also, on September 1, 2021, from 1:30-2:30 pm EST, don’t miss the #WorkTrends Twitter chat with Rosaleen (@rosaleenblair) and Stasia (@Stasia_EY). During the chat, we will tackle topics like innovative management techniques, diversity of thought, and more.

Diversity Matters: 5 Reasons You Can’t Afford to Overlook It

First, the good news: Diversity in the workplace is increasing, which gives organizations greater access to talent. It also generates a more inclusive corporate culture that mirrors the society in which we live. The not-so-good news? Diverse workplaces are not always easy to achieve—for many reasons. Some geographical areas are more conducive to diversity recruitment than others, and a commitment to diversity can often be overlooked the higher up the corporate ladder you go.

Here are five trends we’re observing today. Let’s take a closer look:

  1. Workplace diversity is improving. More than half of workplaces report a rise in diversity over the past five years, according to XpertHR’s Diversity in the Workplace Survey, published in 2016. Having a more diverse workplace has affected corporate policies for the better, too: Companies with diverse workplaces are more likely to permit unpaid time off for employees to observe religious, cultural, or ethnic holidays.
  2. Businesses are recruiting with diversity in mind. The XpertHR survey found that companies hire for ethnic and racial diversity first, with military veterans a close second. However, the study also identifies some obstacles to diversity recruitment efforts, such as lack of minority candidates in some geographic areas; lack of time or other resources to move such recruitment efforts forward; resistance to change; and the persistence of unintended biases that can manifest in a “like-hiring-like” phenomenon.
  3. Business leaders realize diversity is not optional. Many corporate leaders recognize inclusion and diversity as essential criteria for attracting and retaining top talent. The 2016 Diversity Competencies for Leadership Development Survey from the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School found that top business leaders see an inclusive corporate culture as being an important factor in attracting and retaining employees—as well as a means to improving innovation and collaboration among its ranks.
  4. Minorities are fast becoming the majority. Within 20 years, projected growth among Asian, Hispanic, and multiracial groups will put traditionally underrepresented populations in the U.S. majority. As HR experts observe, the companies that do best are the ones whose employee base has a similar demographic makeup to that of their customer base. Beyond the benefits of mirroring the country’s demographics, there are also performance benefits. According to global management consulting firm McKinsey & Co., companies with ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to outperform businesses that don’t have this diversity. The performance benefits are even higher—53 percent—for those who are in the top quartile of executive-board diversity.
  5. Diversity is lagging in the C-suite. An unfortunate exception to the diversity trend is occurring in C-level positions. Women are sorely underrepresented, with a Korn Ferry Study finding only 24 percent of C-suite positions being held by women. The top-most position, CEO, has just 5 percent representation from women. A recent study by Peterson Institute for International Economics confirmed just how important gender diversity can be, identifying a 15 percent increase in profitability for companies that have a 30 percent share of women in C-suite positions. The representation of minorities in high-level positions is even bleaker. There have been only 15 African-American CEOs in the history of the Fortune 500, and just five currently hold the top role.

While companies may be recruiting and hiring with diversity in mind, they also need to ask themselves: Where do we go from here? Don’t assume that your corporate culture is immediately conducive to diversity. These steps can help ensure that it is:

  1. Implement workplace diversity initiatives. According to the XpertHR survey, many companies are moving forward with such initiatives as the formation of affinity groups, instituting mentoring programs and/or career development, and focusing on supplier diversity.
  2. Embrace other points of view. Hiring a diverse workforce is only the beginning. It’s also important that you actively seek advice, opinions, and ideas from a wide range of employees to truly be inclusive.
  3. Create diversity-friendly policies. Some examples include flex-time and telecommuting opportunities, which are helpful for young parents who are juggling career and home life. Make sure your office is physically accommodating to those with disabilities. And be cognizant of religious holidays and cultural celebrations that may be important to your employees.
  4. Strive to change diversity in the C-suite. Recruit employees with advancement potential in mind, and focus on professional growth and employee development so that you have qualified minority and female candidates to choose from when top positions open up.

Corporate leaders can feel justifiably proud that diversity is more prevalent than it’s ever been before. However, that shouldn’t cause them to lose sight of the undeniable truth: We still have a long way to go.

A version of this post was first published on Entrepreneur. 

#WorkTrends Recap: Workplace Diversity is More Than Just a Business Imperative

There’s been a lot said about the need for workplace diversity in our world today. But it’s not a phrase to be tossed around. It goes deeper than what can be seen by internal and external stakeholders. It’s a business operative and more than that, a moral issue that cuts to the heart of why companies need to show their inclusive human side to everyone.

This week host Meghan M. Biro was joined by Jhana CEO Rob Cahill and VP of Sales Suzanne Leung to discuss why diversity is so important.

Rob and Suzanne shared the different ways they created a diverse workforce and how it has transformed their company.

Here are a few other key points that they shared:

  • It’s never too early to start thinking about diversity and inclusion in your company
  • Recruiting managers need to be prepared to spend more time looking for candidates until they get good at looking in unique places
  • A team with diverse life experiences can bring about real innovation
  • Don’t wait for a diversity initiative to make changes. Do what you can with what you have now.

Did you miss the show? You can listen to the #WorkTrends podcast on our BlogTalk Radio channel here:

You can also check out the highlights of the conversation from our Storify here:

Didn’t make it to this week’s #WorkTrends show? Don’t worry, you can tune in and participate in the podcast and chat with us every Wednesday from 1-2pm ET (10-11am PT). On Feb 8, I will be joined by CEO and founder of global consultancy Karrikins Group, Peter Sheahan to discuss how to move beyond the competition.

Remember, the TalentCulture #WorkTrends conversation continues every day across several social media channels. Stay up-to-date by following our #WorkTrends Twitter stream; pop into our LinkedIn group to interact with other members; or check out our Google+ community. Engage with us any time on our social networks, or stay current with trending World of Work topics on our website or through our weekly email newsletter.

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#WorkTrends Preview: Workplace Diversity is More Than Just a Business Imperative

Workplace diversity is not just a phrase to be bandied about. It goes deeper than what can be seen by internal and external stakeholders. It’s a business operative and more than that, a moral issue that cuts to the heart of why companies need to show their inclusive human side to everyone.

On Wednesday, February 1, 2017 at 1pm EST, host Meghan M.Biro sits down with Rob Cahill, CEO and Suzanne Leung, VP of Sales at Jhana to discuss the myriad benefits of a diverse culture and how they address diversity at Jhana.

Workplace Diversity is More Than Just a Business Imperative

#WorkTrends Logo Design

Join Rob, Suzanne, and me on our LIVE online podcast Wednesday, Feb 1 — 1 pm ET / 10 am PT.

Immediately following the podcast, the team invites the TalentCulture community over to the #WorkTrends Twitter stream to continue the discussion. We encourage everyone with a Twitter account to participate as we gather for a live chat, focused on these related questions:

Q1: Why is workplace diversity more than a business decision?  #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q2: How can companies integrate diversity initiatives into their culture? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Q3: What are the financial benefits of a diverse workforce? #WorkTrends (Tweet this question)

Don’t want to wait until next Wednesday to join the conversation? You don’t have to. I invite you to check out the #WorkTrends Twitter feed, our TalentCulture World of Work Community LinkedIn group, and our TalentCulture G+ community. Share your questions, ideas and opinions with our awesome community any time. See you there!

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Siloed Diversity Holds Us All Back

There is conflict over an issue in the field of diversity and inclusion that needs to be addressed. Here are the two opposing schools of thought:

  1. Diversity is a long process, and every disenfranchised group can’t get there at once. As we work on gender and racial diversity, we will open the door for other groups.
  2. The siloing of advancement in diversity is holding every group back. The very idea of diversity and inclusion is that every group should be equal and represented fully in business. You can’t have partial diversity and consider that a success.

In recent years, businesses have been paying closer attention to diversity issues, since studies continue to show that diverse workforces are more productive, and more profitable, than homogenous ones. They are also more creative because people coming from diverse backgrounds with varied life experiences bring different approaches. It only makes sense that diversity of thought breeds more creative and effective problem solving.

So, for the purposes of this discussion, we can agree that diversity is good for business. The sticking point has always been how to actually make it happen in the workplace. The business world is rife with consultants whose purpose is to help organizations shift their hiring practices and create more diverse employee workforces, but it has been slow going at many companies. This slow movement is obviously of great concern for everyone shut out by homogenized work cultures, but this is critically important to those individuals who do not fit the two groups most talked about in the movement – gender and racial diversity. If it has taken this long to work towards a CONVERSATION on diversity for those groups, how long will individuals with differences not connected to race and gender have to wait for their turn to be included?

The Reality of Diversity Today

In order to get to the heart of the matter, let’s look at where diversity in business stands today:

Now let’s look at the US population:

  • 13 percent of the population is African American
  • 8 percent of the population is female (2010 US Census)
  • 5 million people in the US have trouble using their voices.
  • More than 3.5 million Americans have autism.
  • 53 million Americans live with a disability, according to the CDC.

Not only do we have the persistent issue of primarily all white male executive leadership in business, the employment numbers of those with a disability of any type are startling. So how do we fix it?

One for All, and All for One

In order to understand why separate movements for diversity are less effective than an inclusive one, we only have to look at the Women’s Suffragette Movement. Lucy Stone, the founder of the original movement, broke with her friends Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton because unlike her, they did not support the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments, giving black men citizenship and the right to vote. Their movements splintered as Susan B. Anthony moved closer to radical anti-black groups, and many scholars argue that this separation caused a delay in the movement accomplishing their goals.

Sadly, a thorough study of the impact of diversity outside of race and gender has yet to be undertaken. The UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills undertook an international assessment of diversity studies and found:

“There are very few workplace studies that attempt to quantify the impacts of diversity on business outcomes, when considering disability, religion and sexual orientation. In many instances this is a result of data limitations. Very few private sector firms collect systematic and useable data on religion and sexual orientation (see for instance, 2012 Diversity League Tables). Even if they do, response rates can be very low and data on disability are often hard to analyse as they are often self-reported and can cover a wide range of conditions. “

One of our goals at The Speech Factor is to raise awareness and promote the undertaking of a study that we believe will show that diversity in all forms holds a clear benefit for businesses.

It is obvious that if all marginalized groups gathered together under a unified front they’d have a far greater number of people pushing towards the same goal, with an undeniably louder voice. Diversity can’t work in silos, because the silos are exactly what it needs to destroy in order to have success.

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