Practice What You Preach: How Any Organization Can Truly Embrace Diversity

Practice What You Preach: How Any Organization Can Truly Embrace Diversity

POST WRITTEN BY:  Forbes Coaches Council

 

With as many as 41% of businesses saying they don’t have time to include diversity in their workplace, the need for inclusivity seems greater than ever. Many organizations claim to have a handle on diversity from within, but there is much more work that can be done to make all their employees feel like a part of a team.

 

There’s a lot to learn about diversity from a business perspective. Your organization needs to stay ahead of the curve and be a true leader when it comes to being truly inclusive. With a little effort and time, you can provide a work environment that your diverse staff will thrive in.

 

Fifteen members of Forbes Coaches Council weigh in on the steps organizations need to take to embrace diversity and actually “practice what they preach” regarding it. Here’s what they recommend:

 

1. Get Clear About Inclusion

 

Diversity plans are nothing without inclusion. Most of us understand the benefits and competitive advantages of a diverse workforce, yet we are challenged to be inclusive of the very diversity we create. So before you start mixing things up, get extremely clear about the culture you are trying to cultivate and why. - Susan Taylor, Generon International

 

2. Embrace Diversity From The Top Down

 

Organizations interested in diversity and inclusion must begin at the highest levels. The board, senior executives and upper-level management must reflect their diversity philosophy. In addition, training on diversity and inclusion should be mandatory for all employees on a regular basis. This should begin with orientation and continue each year. - Dr. Venessa Marie Perry, Health Resources Solutions, LLC

 

 

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Walmart pledges $2 Million to Fund Diversity Internships

Walmart pledges $2 Million to Fund Diversity Internships

The Associated Press

July 24, 2018 03:17 PM

Walmart plans to donate $2 million to two congressional minority caucus foundations to fund programs for students and young professionals.

The Bentonville-based retail behemoth said Tuesday that the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute will each receive three-year, $1 million grants which will go toward paid congressional internships, housing, monthly stipends, professional development and leadership training.

In a press release, the company cited statistics from the Pew Research Center that show that while non-white Americans comprise approximately 36 percent of the population, less than 20 percent of congressional representatives are people of color.

GOOGLE TO HIRE THOUSANDS IN 9 STATES

Officials from each of the foundations say internships are crucial to careers in public policy. The grants will bring Walmart's total donation to the two foundations to more than $6 million.

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Too Many Non-Profit Boards Lack Diversity

Too Many Non-Profit Boards Lack Diversity

By: Kenneth Anderson Taylor, Chicago Tribune

 

You may not recognize the name Tarana Burke. She’s the black woman who founded the #MeToo movement a decade ago to support women of color who survive sexual harassment and assault.

 

Although this movement has mostly directed attention to work-related abuses involving white women since it hit critical mass in 2017, it also speaks to me as a black man because of the racial discrimination I personally experienced many years ago as a nonprofit CEO.

 

Today, I blame that predicament on the lack of diversity among the leadership of my nonprofit’s board. Imbalances of power create opportunities for the people who have historically called the shots to abuse their authority — whether that means paying people of color less than whites for the same work or committing the kinds of outrages that the #MeToo movement and its offshoots are now bringing to light.

 

Here’s the big picture: At a time when only 61.3 percent of Americans are white, about 84 percent of nonprofit board members are in that demographic group, along with 90 percent of nonprofit board chairs. When BoardSource, which strives to improve nonprofit management, released this data in 2016, it predicted little progress:

 

“Despite reporting high levels of dissatisfaction with current board demographics — particularly racial and ethnic diversity — boards are not prioritizing demographics in their recruitment practices.”

 

The leadership ranks of nonprofits are, it turns out, a bit more racially and ethnically diverse than their corporate counterparts. Yet I believe nonprofits typically have more of an imperative than private companies to get this right because of their missions.

 

Do-gooders can do better

 

This matters because boards of directors supervise the nation’s nearly 1.6 million nonprofits, providing financial oversight and strategic guidance. In addition, they help with fundraising and hire and manage the group’s top staff. Most board members are volunteers.

 

Nonprofits, such as medical research institutions, houses of worship and shelters for sexual abuse victims, usually fill gaps between what the government and private sector do. A large share of them serve communities with great needs, a population that is disproportionately made up of people of color.

 

Strangely, nonprofit decision-makers seem to either not understand or don’t believe that relying on overly white leadership is at odds with their missions.

 

My own experience illustrates the travails that leaders of color may experience within nonprofits.

 

After spending nine years working for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the nation’s largest youth mentoring organization, I was thrilled to move from its national headquarters in Philadelphia for a job as temporary CEO of its Austin, Texas, affiliate.

 

I was even more excited when the board wanted to hire me permanently six months later. But my enthusiasm soon fizzled upon discovering that the same board that unanimously wanted me to lead the organization also collectively decided to pay me thousands of dollars less than my predecessor — a white woman with less experience than me who had approximately the same academic credentials.

 

Attempting to negotiate a more equitable salary with a board that was all white aside from one black man discouraged me further. I was simply told the matter was not up for discussion. After all, the board’s president-elect stated, I “didn’t have to say yes” and it was the first time I would be serving in this capacity — as it had been for the CEO I was replacing.

 

Just imagine dedicating nine years of your life to an organization with the goal of becoming its CEO, having that dream come true and then realizing your hard work had culminated in an offer to be paid far less than the person you were to replace.

 

Though I eventually accepted the board’s offer based on what I believed to be right in terms of my career path, in my heart I knew I was discriminated against in terms of compensation.

 

Old patterns

 

While most nonprofit staff leaders and board members say they are extremely dissatisfied with this gap, they do little to correct it. In fact, they ignore basic and logical remedies.

 

Most do not make diversity a high priority when they recruit new leaders, for example. As James Westphal of the University of Michigan and Edward Zajac of Northwestern University found in 1995, most board members are identified and recruited through informal practices that are rarely rigorous or systematic.

 

This convention hasn’t changed. Unsurprisingly, it yields recruits who resemble older board members.

 

As a result, new and former nonprofit board members are nearly identical in terms of their ethnic and racial backgrounds, even for groups claiming to value diversity. Maybe they do. But they must prove that.

 

I believe that nonprofit leaders can take some basic steps to draw more people of color into their upper ranks.

 

Since the leadership in most nonprofits is drawn from the board and upper management, a simple first step is to acknowledge the job dissatisfaction of employees of color. Ample research, including my own, indicates that they are generally less satisfied than whites.

 

Unsatisfied employees, whether white or people of color, are more likely to move on. This is especially true for nonprofits, whose employees routinely cite low pay when conveying the reasons for their discontent.

 

In addition, board members and top staff can make and communicate clear plans to achieve the goal of leadership diversity. Consistently communicating why it would advance the group’s mission — and is worth the trouble — is key. So is letting employees of color know that their input is highly valued.

 

Airing feedback from employees of color at board meetings helps, as does requiring nonprofit executives to identify, hire and mentor nonwhites for leadership roles.

 

With many nonprofits undergoing leadership successions today, there’s no time to waste.

 

The Conversation

Kenneth Anderson Taylor is an assistant professor at the Bush School of Government & Public Service at Texas A&M University.

 

 

 

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Accenture CEO: Total Gender Equality by 2025

by Haley Draznin

As CEO of Accenture North America, Julie Sweet wants to accomplish what most other executives at major companies have not: Making sure men and women are represented equally in the company's ranks.

 

Her goal: To get to a 50% male-50% female workforce by 2025. As of last year, the firm's US employee base was 36% women and 64% men.

 

"I'm very optimistic," Sweet tells CNN's Poppy Harlow in the latest podcast episode of Boss Files. "I'm with CEOs all the time. I'm in the C-Suite. There is something different today than even two or three years ago. There's a genuine focus that's not about checking the box... There's been so much disruption. Companies are having to come up with entirely new business models."

 

Sweet feels it's her corporate responsibility to be a leader on equality. Accenture was the first of the big professional consulting firms to publish their diversity statistics in 2017.

 

"When I'm talking to my peers, what they recognize is they can't do it with the same leaders. They need different thoughts. Different ideas," she says. "Diversity, I think, has become a real business imperative at the very top with CEOs who are facing massive disruption. That, I think, is why we're at an inflection point."

 

By being transparent about things like hiring statistics, Sweet seeks to help all Accenture employees understand the importance of this initiative and why the company is embarking on it.

 

"One of the reasons we shared our numbers, they weren't because they were great, they were in order to have a transparent conversation," Sweet says. "We're going to be honest about where we are and where we want to go."

 

Sweet is one of the founding members of the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, a commitment signed by more than 400 CEOs pledging to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

 

She's also increased the paid parental leave policy at Accenture and is launching initiatives that appeal to a millennial workforce.

 

"Diversity is critical," Sweet says. "People who come to Accenture want to be part of collaborative teams that are interesting and diverse. We think it's actually a real differentiator as we try to get people to come join us."

 

Sweet and her team have also set incremental hiring goals to improve diversity along the way. "We said by 2017, we wanted to hire 40% women globally. We met that a year early," she says.

 

And it's not just about hiring women.

 

"Last year, for the first time, we set goals in terms of hiring around African Americans, Hispanic Americans, veterans. We've announced that we want to hire 5,000 veterans by 2020," she adds.

 

 

Related: Diversity is Not About Being Different

 

 

Key to her leadership style, is having empathy. "We don't always talk about that as a leadership quality. I think what's really important is having empathy, understanding the experiences of how someone is going to experience what you have to say," Sweet tells Harlow.

 

 

Taking risks is another. For Sweet, that is something that was instilled in her from a young age. Growing up with just a single pair of shoes and her parents struggling to make ends meet, she admits her younger self was driven by the desire to be successful.

 

When she went to study in China in the 1980s as a teenager, few Westerners had been traveling there. She didn't know the language or the culture, but she overcame all of those boundaries.

 

Related: A former refugee, she's now the first Latina CEO of a major US company

 

"Taking that risk and succeeding has really given me the confidence to take other risks," she says. "My jump to becoming CEO from the general counsel job at Accenture, that's a risk, right? That's very public. I think about even my willingness to take that risk. This kind of goes back to those early experiences."

 

"I needed and wanted to be someone who was going to make a difference," she admits, "Now, as CEO, I have even more of an ability to drive change. It is hard, right? But it's a great privilege to have the opportunity."

 

 

 

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Uber Exec: White Men Need To ‘Make Noise’ About Diversity

Uber exec: White men need to 'make noise' about diversity

Posted on 3/13/18

 

By: Sara Ashley O'Brien (CNN)

 

Bozoma Saint John, Uber's chief brand officer, called on white men to help diversify their workplaces.

 

"I want white men to look around in their office and say, 'Oh look, there's a lot of white men here. Let's change this,'" Saint John said at the SXSW festival on Sunday.

 

Saint John said the onus should not be on people of color to improve diversity at work: "Why do I — as the black woman — have to fix that? There's 50 of you, there's one of me. Ya'll fix it. ... Everybody else needs to make the noise — I want white men to make the noise."

 

Saint John joined Uber last June and is responsible for increasing customer loyalty. Her hire was considered a strategic move in Uber's turnaround effort: The company added a black female executive after being blasted for having a non-inclusive culture.

 

Travis Kalanick resigned as CEO later in June amid turmoil at the company.

 

Uber, like most tech companies, is working to diversify its workforce. Its first diversity report, released in March 2017, showed that Uber had no technical leaders who are black or Hispanic. Among non-technical leadership positions, 3.7% were black and 1.2% were Hispanic.

 

However, the report noted that in the 12 months prior, Uber had increased its hiring of black and Hispanic employees.

 

Uber's numbers aren't outliers when compared to other Silicon Valley tech companies, according to Saint John.

 

"The number of African Americans in Silicon Valley is dismal," said Saint John, who left her marketing leadership job at Apple Music for Uber. "It's not up to one company — it's up to the entire industry to make sure that we are moving the conversation forward. Sometimes those walls of competition need to come down so we can move the entire industry forward."

 

 

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DIVERSITY DESPERATELY NEEDS INCLUSION

Diversity Desperately Needs Inclusion

By: Tony Wright

 

Several months ago, I was invited to attend a small gathering to discuss workplace diversity. I sat alongside other leaders for breakfast to learn about what they'd done to help diversify their work teams. The facilitator of this small gathering was a very passionate white female that sought to change the usual demographic in the upper echelons of management. As she began to facilitate the discussion, I leaned forward with curiosity, as I knew that, on this day, I'd learn something different. The energy in the room was fantastic. 

 

The facilitator arranged for a group of prominent leaders - all white men - to engage in an interactive conversation with the audience about how to ensure women were given ample opportunities to compete for leadership positions. She asked really tough questions, and quite frankly, the (white) men gave solid responses that were really helpful. Many of these men had already implemented succuessful hiring initiatives to give more women opportunities to compete. They were changing the demographic of their companies, and they had the numbers to prove it.

 

One CEO gave specifics about how his organization shaped interview panels so that the ratio of men to women was appropriate. Basically, his theory was that a balanced panel would more than likely make a balanced decision. This simple tweak obviously made a big impact in his organization - more women were allegedly given more opportunities for advancement.

 

In another example, a CEO stated that he mandated that diversity committees be formed in different divisions throughout his organization. He stated that the committees were formed to bring back innovative ideas that supported the advancement of diversity. Similar to the earlier example, women were asked to participate in these committees, and as such, they developed plans that were thoughtful and deliberate. After these plans were implemented, the CEO stated that they quickly began to see changes - positive changes - in all layers of management in his organization.

 

After several other CEOs spoke, and the audience asked their fair share of questions, the facilitator summarized the lessons learned for us to take back to our home organizations. Enthused and ready to put a plan in place for my company, I pointed my attention back to the facilitator to listen to her closing remarks. Her powerpoint ended with a before and after picture of an executive team. The "current state" image showcased a gathering of business men - all white men - dressed in fancy suits and ties. The "future state" image was much different. It was a collection of men and women, all dressed professionally - - - and, they were all - - -  white.

 

Not a single woman of color.

 

As I looked around the room, the audience appeared to be excited and engaged. I was not. I was beginning to feel defeated, as if people who looked like me were intentionally carved out of the diversity conversation. You see, I am an African American male. No one else in the room looked like me.

 

In an instant, I transitioned from being highly engaged, to feeling a sense of frustration. I felt alone.

 

And then, it hit me. 

 

Diversity requires inclusion at all levels. Without it, it diversity doesn't stick, and there is no real, sustainable engagement. We must include everyone in the conversation to have balance - including black men, and white men. Women of color, members of the LGBTQ community, disabled employees... The list goes on. No member of any "group" will have the desire to participate in such an important conversation if they aren't positively impacted.

 

Thoughtful inclusion of everyone is probably the best way to get full participation when having these types of discussions. Without inclusion, there's often a diversity backlash that can occur, which is what I felt when I saw the all-white image of an executive leadership team.

 

 

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THREE REASONS TO THINK BEYOND DIVERSITY

Three Reasons To Think Beyond Diversity

By: Glenn Llopis

 

After catching up with a former client on the phone, I found myself recalling a powerful conversation I had after one of my keynotes a few years ago. A gentleman approached me proudly stating how his leaders had “passed their cultural training, and now they are suited to deal with diverse populations.” I remember him smiling, expecting me to praise his forward thinking on the issue. He was sadly mistaken. I told him I admired the intention but not the result: He wasn’t bringing people together; he was further siloing them. By focusing on diversity and not inclusion, he was promoting disconnection, marginalization, and even victimization.

 

The gentleman looked confused, so I explained that when we put words like Hispanic, African American, and Asian Pacific-Islanders in front of people, we think more about the words and less about the people. These words close our minds to embracing how people communicate, think, and add-value differently. So we don’t include them – we push them, their unique differences, and the innovation mentality they bring even further to the margins of the company.

 

They get lost as a cost-center, rather than an influencer to drive growth.

 

“But our chief diversity officer led the training,” he protested.

 

“Exactly,” I said. “If that work falls on a single marginalized chief diversity officer, that practically gives most companies license to ignore the marginalized diversity trainings that officer leads, corporate social responsibility programs, and employee resource groups. All of those things have good intentions but are seen at your company and many others as cost centers linked to compliance and political correctness rather than profit centers to drive influence in the workplace and growth in the marketplace.”

 

So why did I recall this conversation? My former client was applying for a job as a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.

 

Here we go again.

 

Why does the term diversity still need to exist in a title when you're solving for inclusion? Does the addition of the word inclusion mean companies think diversity solves for inclusion? Or that if you add inclusion, you are therefore inclusive and not just diverse? Are we sending the wrong message?

 

Yes, we are. Focusing on diversity does not solve for inclusion. Focusing on diversity:

 

  1. Creates silos

 

The irresponsible use of the word “diversity” by businesses over the years has converted the original intentions into politically charged agendas that make people feel uncomfortable and drives them into silos. As organizations attempt to recreate growth, their focus should be on solving for inclusion in order to find new ways to maximize the full potential and contributions of all individuals (both diverse and non-diverse). The workplace and marketplace are changing too fast for leaders to pretend they have all the answers. They need to find like-mindedness in differences not assimilate those differences or force them to the margins. Which brings us to the next point.

 
  1. Promotes a compliance mindset

 

A compliance mindset happens when organizations place an emphasis on ensuring that diversity initiatives are in place to celebrate employee differences. While there is certainly a place and can be a space to do this, those places and spaces do not solve for inclusion. They solve for embracing differences but not for amplifying influence.  All individuals want to feel valued and heard  But what individuals want more than anything else is to know that they work for an organization that knows how to leverage individual differences in ways that allows the individual to influence more and seize opportunities previously unseen. But while (diversity and) inclusion is housed in human resources, this will never happen. It belongs in corporate strategy where growth lies, not the human resources departments that have historically focused on compliance.

 
  1. Makes people feel judged not valued

 

People want to be part of an organization that encourages them to be themselves and allows them to challenge the status quo. Leaders and employees are tired of being told to what to do inside the box they are given. Diversity doesn’t solve for this; inclusion does.  As diversity continues to be the corporate narrative, and platforms such as CEO Action and others attempt to strengthen that narrative, diversity initiatives will never solve for inclusion and individuality. The will never solve for growth. They will solve for reputation management, contributing to the compliance mindset and fostering the silos. They will solve for divisiveness and only add to the confusion around how all of this “diversity work” contributes to driving revenue.   In fact, my organization has developed an assessment tool that can measure an organization’s readiness to lead inclusion as a growth strategy.

 

If individuality is going to continue to shape present and future business models and if inclusion is the platform for leveraging the collective intellectual capital in all people to drive business growth, why do we allow diversity to stand in the way? When we do, it feeds the old narrative that continues to be repackaged in other forms that promote disconnection, marginalization, and even victimization.

 

Yes, of course, we all understand (perhaps more than ever) that people in the US come from diverse backgrounds. But are these people defined by their diversity? Is the affinity to diversity - the business defining the individual or the individual defining the business?

 

It’s the business (company) defining the individual. Those diversity trainings, corporate social responsibility programs, and employee resource groups? They are seemingly doing the right thing without much thought about what they are solving for, let alone who they are for, why we are doing it, or if what we are doing is actually right for the people they are supposedly serving – or anyone else really.

 

Do people need a label or a reason to justify their existence? Do you need to say diversity for people to buy in to what you are selling? Will an employee resource group make people feel more included? Diversity as a platform doesn't empower different individuals, give them influence, make them feel valued, and strive to find like-mindedness in our differences – inclusion does. Being labeled as “diverse” makes people feel judged.

 

In other words, by focusing in the words, we ignore the people. Diversity reaffirms a culture of marginalization, victimization, and compliance. This is especially true if the chief diversity and inclusion officer is part of human resources.

 

Inclusion should be in corporate strategy focused on driving growth. That’s how we create inclusive cultures to anticipate change, innovate, and grow. Which is exactly what America needs. Organizations are focusing now on recreating growth and must have a mindset of continuous renewal and reinvention to survive. When you consider that businesses were focused on managing growth at the start of the century and now have to recreate growth, they must become more employee-centric and focus on individuality and inclusion.

 

Follow Glen @GlennLlopis. Learn more about his new book, The Innovation Mentality

 

 

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WHY THE (ENTREPRENEURIAL) FUTURE IS FEMALE

WHY THE (ENTREPRENEURIAL) FUTURE IS FEMALE

Women own only 5 percent of startups. So, when we talk about inequality, how about talking about women entrepreneurs?

 

By: Jeffrey Hayzlett

 

This time of year is normally filled with stories about holiday cheer and yuletide goodwill to all. 'Tis the season after all. No wonder that in years past, I've typically written about Christmas movies, business or some other jolly topic.

 

Related: The Best Places for Women to Work in 2017

 

This year, however,it would an oversight to address the holidays without addressing what's dominated the pre-holiday news cycle: gender inequality and sexual harassment. Everyone is talking about these things, and not just media personalities, Hollywood celebs and other high-profile individuals. (Those are the ones making the headlines!)

 

One reason why so many are talking? While public figures, in a public setting, are the ones we're hearing about most, the reality is that sexual harassment and discrimination occur on a regular basis, even in fields like ours.

 

We can’t eradicate the underlying inequality from every industry by snapping our fingers, but we can do something to combat it in our own industry. Entrepreneurship, after all, is contagious. It’s a state of mind, a way of life: A good idea deserves to be launched, regardless of who is launching it. Yet the reality is so often about who gets that opportunity, and when.

 

Let me show you some numbers:

  • Women own only 5 percent of startups.
  • Only 7 percent of partners at top 100 venture capital firms are women.
  • Women hold only 11 percent of the executive positions in Silicon Valley.
  • Last year, venture capitalists invested just $1.46 billion in women-led companies, while male-led companies earned $58.2 billion in investments, according to M&A and venture capital database Pitchbook.

 

How do we, as entrepreneurs and business owners, help address this national issue? How do we address the gender gap in our own midst, in entrepreneurship? And what does a middle-aged, white man know about this gap to begin with?

 

I’ll start by admitting that I’m not an expert in the topic, but as a student of human nature, I see that the tools to combat this are right in front of us -- if we know where to look. Here are some steps we can take.

 

Set goals.

 

Rome wasn’t built in a day and the issue of gender parity won’t go away in a week, a month or even a year. Set a goal. For example, Oath CEO Tim Armstrong said during a cable TV news interview that his mission was to fill at least half of his company’s leadership positions by 2020 with women.

 

He also said that Oath (a company that was born from the merger between AOL and Yahoo!) is “roughly [at] the 30 percent [level] right now.” He said he wanted to achieve his goal of 50 percent female leadership by promoting from within and creating new positions in areas where women can lead.

 

He said that his initial plan was to launch a new company within the Oath umbrella, where all leadership positions would be filled by women. In fact, the entire company would employ women.

 

His plan seemed flawless until he had a conversation with none other than feminist icon Gloria Steinem.

 

She reminded him that women don’t need a separate workspace -- quite the opposite, actually. She pointed out to Armstrong that business owners at all levels need to take more risks within their own ecosystems, as companies perform better where men and women can work side by side.

 

According to a McKinsey report, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to outperform above average, financially, within their industry.

 

At my own company, I’ve hired more women than men. I know what they’re capable of and I’ve taken steps to empower them to make decisions. One of those steps involves my response when someone asks me a question.

 

“I will not do the work of my very talented team,” I sometimes reply. That means that I want those team members to make the decision. If their decision ends up being wrong, it’s a learning experience. (More often than not, my team makes the right decision.)

 

Ensure equal access to capital.

 

Despite many advances in gender equality, it’s still an old boys network in terms of financing and investing in startups. A study by Harvard Business School found that investors prefer entrepreneurial ventures pitched by men. The study also took a look at video pitches and found they were twice as likely to get funded when they were narrated by men.

 

This doesn’t even make sense to me. If it’s a good idea, with a good business plan -- fund it!

 

A quarterly report by Fundera found that female entrepreneurs on average ask for roughly $35,000 less in financing their small businesses than men. The report also found that across the board, women entrepreneurs get offered smaller loans (2.5 times less money), than men do.

 

Because it’s so hard to get funding from VCs or angel investors, especially female-led startups, many organizations have taken steps to address these challenges. Companies like Watermark, SheWorx, Merge Lanes and BBG Ventures, to name a few, are making it easier not just to acquire capital, but to access it as well.

 

Despite women-led businesses being the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurship, they still comprise a small percentage of companies funded by VCs. Some blame this on under-representation of women’s businesses, but I think that statement is a cop-out. As I’ve said before, good ideas aren’t a monopoly for one segment of the population to own.

 

In my own company, I encourage anyone with an idea to step forward -- whether it’s the president of the company or the intern. A good idea from a female entrepreneur deserves the same shot at funding as any other good idea from a male colleague.

 

Share the spotlight.

 

Earlier this year, I attended a conference in New York City. Throughout the conference, I noticed that the majority of the panels were all-male, and I thought to myself, “Why isn’t there a woman on that panel?” Our company does a lot of events throughout the year, so I made a mental note to tell my C-suite network team to make sure we have a diverse list of speakers and panelists at every conference and summit we do.

 

In fact, this problem is a prevalent one. The upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES), was recently called out by female tech executives for its lack of inclusion and diversity. It might be one of the largest tech events, but its keynote-speaker lineup lacked any women.

 

Twitter CMO Leslie Berland, in particular, took to social media on Dec. 3 to make her feelings known, tweeting, “I’ve got a long list of amazing women to hit your stage. Let’s talk. #changetheratio.” And JP Morgan Chase’s CMO, Kristen Lemkau,  chimed in, naming a long list of women innovators in “less time than it took to drink coffee.”

 

As a result of this backlash, the show organizers made changes to the program. And that was the right thing to do: Giving women exposure as part of a panel, as a keynote speaker or in some other visible role, helps narrow the gender gap -- if only in a small way.

 

Make no mistake about it: The problem we face is a big one. It's a systemic problem that none of us can change alone, but when we all work toward multiple solutions, progress happens.

 

As business owners and entrepreneurs, we need to take a good, hard look at ourselves and tackle this issue head on. We must ask ourselves, "Are we part of the problem?" And, if so, we have to fix it!

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THE BEAUTY OF CULTURAL DIVERSITY

The Importance of Cultural Diversity

By: Kwame Molden

 

Human beings are extremely diverse in very many ways.

 

People differ in opinions, race, nationality, gender, age, sexuality, ethnicity, class, religion, lifestyle and so much more, yet at the very basic we are all human species. Ideally, all people feel pain and joy despite the differences. Today, the changes in time and technology have made it extremely impossible for any group of people to live without interacting with others outside their group. Often people of different cultural and geographical backgrounds meet in international conferences, education exchange programs, sports, etc.

 

Sadly, the history of mankind discriminating against each other based on cultural differences has been with us for ages. So many people have died or have been denied their rights because of individual greed. Properties and economies have also been destroyed due to lack of understanding. Unfortunately, some of these occurrences are visible even today, perpetuated by people who little understand the importance of the uniqueness of our diversity. Little do they know that:

 

1. Diversity creates richness in opinion.

 

Some problems cannot be solved by a homogenous group of people. The complexity of challenges facing the world today requires the input people from different cultural backgrounds if we are to succeed. A diverse group will offer fresh ideas to solve problems. Diverse groups have often been found to be creative and thus producing better solutions to problems.

 

Cultural Diversity: The Sum of Our Parts

 

2. Diversity makes us compassionate about others

 

When we interact and try to understand others, we will not judge them. This instead makes us compassionate about others. We are then able to love and help one another. Compassion allows us to empathize with others and realize that all human beings are the same. Hatred amongst people of cultural differences only makes us resentful and full of hunger, and often denying us the opportunity to live life to the fullest.

 

3. Diversity is a growing trend

 

Today there is no country in the world that has only natives living there. Each and every day, millions of people are moving from a part of the world to another. Most people are in such of better opportunities, education and lifestyle. In the process people of different cultural backgrounds often find themselves going to the same schools, working in the same office and so much more. As citizens of this world, we are therefore left with no choice other than to embrace our diversity. Children have to be taught to live and respect people who are different from them in some way so that the world would be a peaceful place to live.

 

4. Diversity opens up new market opportunities

 

Through diversity, entrepreneurs have been able to reach new markets. Today we have multinationals setting up offices in different parts of the world of which it would not be possible without embracing diversity. This further creates employment opportunities for people in those parts of the world. 

 

Moral of the Story: Embrace cultural diversity. It's important for a sustainable and healthy lifestyle across the board.

 

 

 

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DIVERSITY & INCLUSION IN THE LEGAL INDUSTRY

DIVERSITY & INCLUSION IN THE LEGAL INDUSTRY

 

This article appeared in Marketing the Law Firm, an ALM publication reporting on the latest, and most effective strategies. For Chief Marketing Officers, Managing Partners, Law Firm Marketing Directors, Administrators, Consultants. Visit the website to learn more.

 

Let’s face it — most lawyers and law firms all do the same thing (handle complex legal issues for clients) and a lot of them look the same and sound the same (unfortunately). So, how do you differentiate your firm? There are dozens of ways you can do this — through practice, industry or geographic focus, for example — but one aspect of law firms that is becoming increasingly of interest to clients — and an area that might offer opportunities for differentiation — is law firm commitment to increasing and sustaining diversity.

 

Diversity and Inclusion: The New Buzzwords Diversity and inclusion seem to be the major buzzwords at law firms these days. Every day, there is yet another article or news item about firms implementing the Mansfield Rule (which requires 30% of a firm’s leadership candidates to be minorities and women) being implemented at firms, or the impact of ABA Resolution 113 that “urges all providers of legal services, including law firms and corporations, to expand and create opportunities at all levels of responsibility for diverse attorneys.”

 

The legal media haven’t only amped up coverage of law firm diversity, but they’ve increased the variety of topics as well. Even the mainstream media is getting in on the action, e.g.: “Facebook Pushes Outside Law Firms to Become More Diverse,” The New York Times, April 2, 2017).

 

So, with all this attention and focus on diversity, how do you best communicate your commitment to diversity and inclusion externally and how can you effectively differentiate your firm that way?

 

Diversity and the Media When looking at your spokespeople, make sure you have a diverse pool. It’s easy just to pick the most senior, most experienced attorneys to be spokespeople — but, for better or worse, those attorneys often end up being older white men.

 

Promote any diversity awards/rankings/etc. While the media won’t generally publicize awards you receive, you can easily craft a “press release” for posting on your website that will appear in Google searches.

 

Identify the right spokesperson at your firm for diversity and inclusion. Some firms (such as Reed Smith) have a Global Chair, Diversity & Inclusion, who acts as the firm’s go-to spokesperson on all diversity and inclusion inquiries. It also helps to have spokespeople located in different geographical locations, as they can speak to the specific issues of their regions.

 

Encourage your diverse attorneys to write articles and op-eds — especially those who describe their own personal experience and journey being a diverse attorney.

 

Make sure you know and connect with the various outlets that cover legal industry diversity and diversity, in general. Some of those publications include: 1) Profiles in Diversity Journal: http://bit.ly/2uJj615; 2) MCCA Diversity & the Bar: http://bit.ly/2uiVhjr; 3) Diversity, Inc.: http://bit.ly/2tNXvng; 4) Minority Business News: http://mbnusa.biz/; and 5) WILEF (Women in Law Empowerment Forum) Tribune: http://wileftribune.com/.

 

Collaborating with HR and Recruiting 1. Suggest that Human Resources (HR) be proactive in encouraging attorneys to self-identify as diverse. Some HR professionals are concerned about pushing people too hard to identify as diverse — but the better demographics a firm has (and shares), the more accurate the industry demographics (which are getting better, but are still somewhat pathetic)

 

2. Ensure that you (Marketing) and HR stay abreast of the real numbers and demographics. Many law firm diversity rankings are based solely on numbers, so it’s important that you have up-to-date, accurate numbers of your diverse attorneys.

 

3. Team up with Recruiting to make sure they have the right materials (like an “annual review,” for example; see below) for recruiting diverse attorneys. Reprints of articles focused on diversity in which your firm/attorneys appear can also be powerful tools.

 

Digital Differentiation 1. Make sure that the diversity section of your website is front-and-center and easy to find. Don’t let it get buried somewhere because a website consultant tells you that you need to limit your main navigation topics. Clients (and recruits) who want to know about your diversity want to access information about diversity at your firm quickly. Don’t make them hunt for it.

 

2. An “annual review” featuring your firm’s diversity accomplishments is a great way to share your successes and accomplishments, and having both a print and digital version allows you to share it through multiple platforms.

 

3. Producing video profiles is a great way for diverse attorneys to share their own experiences, and can be powerful tools in recruiting and client development. They are also great for posting on your website and for sharing on social media (SM).

 

4. Work with your SM team to ensure that your diversity news and accomplishments are shared on all of the firm’s active platforms. Instagram and Facebook are ideal platforms for promoting your D&I initiatives and successes. Few law firms use Instagram — so using it to highlight your diversity successes could be a real differentiator.

 

5. Creating a blog focused on law firm diversity can give the opportunity to talk about all the great things your firm is doing — and also to participate in the broader conversation about diversity in the legal profession.

 

Other Ideas 1. Diversity Scholarships for Law School Students: This is a great way to help increase the pool of diverse law school graduates, and also give you the opportunity to meet some of the best and brightest (some of whom might make great summer associates — and permanent associates later on.).

 

2. Diversity Awards: To encourage the mentoring of young diverse associates, consider establishing an internal award that recognizes an attorney for his or her contribution to mentoring diverse associates.

 

Other Sources There are plenty of organizations and consultants that can help with your diversity and inclusion initiatives: 1) Diversity Lab: http://bit.ly/2tx0H2t: One of the best and most progressive legal industry diversity organizations known. Founder and CEO Caren Ulrich Stacy is a true visionary. 2) Minority Corporate Counsel Association: https://www.mcca.com, one of the oldest national organizations dedicated to legal industry diversity (established in 1997). 3) California Minority Counsel Program: http://www.cmcp.org/: Formed in 1989 in response to the disparity between the percentage of minorities in California’s population and legal profession. 4) The Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession: http://www.theiilp.com/: focused on “comprehensive outreach and original programming to replace barriers with bridges between legal, judicial, professional, educational and governmental institution.” 5) Ida Abbot Consulting: http://bit.ly/2uQK8bd: Ida is one of the “originals” in law firm gender diversity.

 

Conclusion Whatever you do in connection with diversity and inclusion, 1) Remember that increasing diversity in the legal profession is not only a good thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. 2) Clients will continue to focus on ensuring their outside law firms are diverse — as well as the teams working on their matters. 3) Make sure you communicate your good work through as many channels as possible. Don’t be shy about tooting your own horn. What you are doing vis á vis diversity and inclusion may challenge someone else to do the same — or more.

 

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