Today’s CEOs are under increasing pressure from all sides to achieve change in the workplace – from the regulatory climate and economic slowdown to cybersecurity threats and geopolitical volatility.
Against this backdrop, diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategies are often of lower priority, despite the evidence that a diverse workforce is better for business.
Bridge Arrow is on a mission to connect the dots linking D&I to a business solution. Ahead of her talk on the upcoming Diversity & Inclusion Directors Summit, on the 26h March in San Francisco, founder Karen Brown explains the ABC of D&I.
“We’ve have got to figure out how we can solve business problems through the lens of diversity and inclusion,” says Brown.
“Because I have a seat at the table and the ears of decision makers, I get to be the voice of the voiceless, to create access, equity and equality for all people, while still providing value to the company’s bottom line.”
She promotes three key steps – ABC – for improving D&I:
- Align D&I strategy to support business mandates
- Build partnerships with key stakeholders
- Cultivate a culture of role models
Brown believes that a thorough understanding of the business function, is crucial. That includes the end users of the product or service.
Sustainable change in the workplace
“We need to get the CEO and C-suite on board, and we achieve that by understanding the business function and what’s important,” she explains. “It’s important to start by thinking about the “who” at the end of the line, who will be receiving your product or service, and ensure their voices fully incorporated throughout the decision-making process.”
Attracting a more diverse workforce may mean advertising differently and making the company or organisation’s brand more appealing to people from different backgrounds. That includes connecting the business more closely with the community in which it is based and going to where the talent can be found.
On cultivating role models, Brown says: “That starts at the top of the organisation with the CEO casting the right shadow of leadership.”
The final piece of the jigsaw is to use data analytics as insights for decision-making.
Brown accepts that D&I is still moving at a slow pace and suggests three reasons for this. She says: “One it is still being approached purely from a social justice point of view, and people recognising it is the right thing to do versus seeing this is as a smart choice for the business. The second problem is a lot of people are approaching it from a compliance standpoint. Thirdly, some see it as Public Relations/Marketing exercise.” In other words, what list should we be on.
Hear more from Karen Brown by joining her at the DiversityQ D&I Practitioners Summit in San Francisco on March 26, or subscribe to the DiversityQ newsletter for further updates.