5 Reasons To Increase Your Company’s Diversity

 Kim Davis, Advancing Executives Women Leader.
Kim Davis, Advancing Executives Women Leader.

This past July, New York AWE Leader, Kim Davis, Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer at NFP, was interviewed by Jilea Hemmings, CEO & Co-Founder of Best Tyme, who asked Kim to share how and why increased diversity can raise a company’s bottom line. Kim leads a team that creates, implements, and supports NFP’s administrative and strategic employee programs, in addition to ensuring that NFP attracts, engages, and retains top talent. With more than 25 years of HR strategic oversight experience, Kim partners with business leaders to continuously ensure that the programs empower NFP employees to live their healthiest, most fulfilling and well-rounded lives within a people-first culture.

Here are the top 5 ways Kim says increased diversity can raise a company’s bottom line:

1. Outperform competitors: Metrics have shown that companies that embrace gender diversity tend to outperform other companies by 15%, and when diversity and inclusion is applied within a business, those businesses have shown to outperform other companies by 35%. 

2. Increase innovative thinking: The best innovations are coming from teams that bring diverse mindsets and life experiences from varied genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations, education levels, etc. This enables projects or products to be more diverse and encompassing of the people that will use the products/services.

3. Maximize the talent pool: With the lowest unemployment rate in 10 years, if a company is not working to build an environment that is inclusive of many different faces, they are minimizing the pool even further. For instance, 60% of all college degrees are being awarded to women. If a company isn’t actively working to build and foster an environment that is supportive and open to women, they are reducing their talent pool by 60%.

4. Retain top female leaders: We are finding that women who are having children and raising families are also more likely to remove themselves from the talent pool when they’re in their prime career growth trajectory. Losing these women or not acknowledging them as they return to work will have a similar effect to a reduced candidate pool. Similarly, it will negatively impact diversity in innovation if a subset of the population is not being actively engaged. Offering maternity leave with pay and transitional services for going out and returning to work can have a significant impact on retaining these women in the talent pool. Additionally, offering programs that show schedule and location flexibility, daycare and after-care access will help these women manage their family and professional lives simultaneously.

5. Be representative of clients: American demographics are shifting, becoming more racially and ethnically diverse than ever. By 2030 Caucasians will no longer be the majority ethnic group in the U.S. This means that the faces of leaders and employees within organizations are changing too, and it is important that our workforce be representative of our clients and their workforces. Ensuring everyone has a voice at the table will significantly increase value for clients, as products and offerings will integrate an understanding of their motivations, values and experiences.

Click here to read the full interview and see other pieces by Jilea Hemmings on diversity in the workplace.  

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Diversity Panel Featuring 3 AWE Leaders!

On July 12th, AWE New York Leader, Judy Jackson, Global Chief Talent Officer at Wunderman, moderated a fantastic panel, called Achieving Liftoff: Leveraging the Power of Diversity and Inclusion to Boost Your Brand at the Ace Hotel New York. Among the four panelists was AWE Emeritus Leader Cathy Gutierrez, Senior Human Resources Executive and AWE Emeritus Leader, Agnes Chapski, Senior GM and Sales Executive.

The goal of the discussion was to dig into tangible ways to leverage inclusion and diversity for positive business development, relationship management, and customer retention. The panelists represented varying client/customer focused brands from Glossier to Audible, and varied industries from PR to publishing companies. The panelists eloquently spoke on the intersection of successful branding and D&I – from the company’s origin to bringing the vision to fruition and how the people you hire, the priorities you set, the customers you target, and the stories you weave with the communities in which you serve are integral.

The panel attracted close to 100 guests from senior executives and company leaders to junior folks and people pivoting in their careers. The women on the panel brought a truly complementary mix of insights and communication styles from the genuine, warm, even-keeled, matter-of-fact, and witty, to the anecdotal, tangible and cautionary. They focused on truly actionable items challenging attendees to bring back to their own companies. There were many profound moments (especially as race was a key focus) and a perfect sprinkling of wit and humor.

The evening’s takeaways included:

1. Diversity programs have a higher likelihood of succeeding when driven by C-suite leaders, not human resources.

2. Steering committees to lead on diversity may create a lack of ownership and unintentionally diffuse impact.

3. There are tools to assist in “blind” interviewing but training in unconscious bias is a crucial part of the hiring and evaluation process.

4. Companies can follow the great examples of organizations like Starbucks and Salesforce to be more publicly open in acknowledging what they want to achieve around D&I (i.e. admitting when there are setbacks).

5. While sexism and racism are fully in the ether as biases to confront, there still exist more “accepted” biases like ageism, which should also be a focus of the work of organizations.

Judy Jackson provided a strikingly beautiful metaphor for D&I: Diversity is being asked to the dance, Inclusion is being asked to actually dance once there, and True Inclusion is when you know the steps to the dance that everyone is doing and you feel comfortable joining in and like you belong.

Diversity and inclusion is not just about getting under-represented folks in the room, it’s about creating a culture where diverse perspectives are sought after. Folks need to be valued enough to be taught the dance.

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