Diversity Woman Magazine

WIN 2018

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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34 D I V E R S I T Y W O M A N W i n t e r 2 0 1 8 d i v e r s i t y w o m a n . c o m for challenging dialogues in a way we have never seen before." Indeed, diversity matters today more than ever. But that doesn't mean it's easy. "Diversity is hard work. Sometimes you'll fly close to the sun and get a beauti- ful tan, and sometimes you'll get burned." ese words remain etched in Janice Little's mind, decades after her late men- tor, urmond Woodard, first said them to her. "We all need to show a little vul- nerability," she says. "You're going to get scuffed and not going to get it right all the time. But it's about getting into the arena and being willing to play." DW Ruchika Tulshyan is author of e Diver- sity Advantage: Fixing Gender Inequal- ity in the Workplace (Forbes). She is also founder of Candour, an inclusion communi- cations and strategy firm. African Americans, who make up 12 per- cent of the American workforce, can espe- cially use the support that robust diversity and inclusion programs provide. For ex- ample, African Americans were financially worse off in 2016 than in 2000, the only racial group in this position. Among other indicators, the wage gap between college- educated white and black Americans has widened significantly since 1979, accord- ing to a study by the Economic Policy In- stitute. And African Americans, who have the lowest rates of health insurance, will be disproportionately impacted by a new tax law that cuts insurance. "We see that black employees are liv- ing in emotional and painful times," says Viacom's Auger-Dominguez. "e pain impacts their productivity, morale, and ability to deliver. More companies are ac- knowledging this and creating the space staff in different ways, and when you see a boardroom that initially had only one woman now has three or four. Had you not pushed for the right practices and changes in the environment, that person wouldn't be there." It's time to take a stand for D&I All the leaders interviewed highlight an urgent need to address issues of diversity and inclusion. As employers contend with an increasingly divided political climate and new challenges such as the emerging #metoo movement around sexual harass- ment, D&I leaders must be prepared to help employers navigate workplace ten- sions relating to race, religion, and gender, says Meyer-Shipp. "D&I leaders will need to spend more time facilitating conversa- tions across differences, raising awareness about unconscious bias, and equipping leaders with the skill sets they need to be more intentionally and consciously inclu- sive of others at a time when people are hesitant and sometime afraid to confront issues of difference." Wiley-Little agrees. Ten years ago, di- versity was a "purely business practice that organizations prioritized for sustain- ability." But with so much trauma being felt in communities and "with employees walking into workplaces with baggage, or- ganizations must be prepared and open to share perspectives," she says. "It can be dicey for organizations to touch on issues like social justice, but now we see CEOs stepping up to the plate." It's become incumbent upon business leaders to lead by example and evolve be- yond their traditional training and educa- tion—when employees were expected not to bring their full identities to work—and now learn how to fully engage a diverse workforce. However, many employees are feeling under siege right now. Many communi- ties are experiencing unprecedented tur- moil—undocumented immigrants (and their documented children), Muslim Americans, and African Americans are all feeling threatened on a number of fronts. Why Diversity Matters I n 2017, the first coalition of CEOs to address diversity and inclusion in the workplace was launched. Within six months of its formation, the initiative CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion had more than 330 CEOs and presidents from companies, includ- ing Walmart, Cisco, Dow Chemical, and HP, sign the coali- tion's pledge. The pledge re- quires leaders to make three commitments: to foster workplaces where employees of diverse backgrounds feel safe and heard, to implement and expand unconscious bias training, and to share best and worst practices on the subject. One of the coalition's first outcomes was convening a CEO Closed Door Discussion Summit A Necessary Commitment to Advancing Diversity in late 2017. By bringing together leaders to share successes and challenges in the field, the coalition aims to help organizations continu- ally learn from one another to create lasting organization- al change. "The persistent inequities across our country underscore our urgent, national need to address and alleviate racial, ethnic, and other tensions and to promote diversity within our communities," states the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclu- sion website. The coalition rallies these im- mensely influential leaders in an attempt to ensure "that inclusion is core to our workplace culture and that our businesses are repre- sentative of the communities we serve."—RT

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