What is diversity and inclusion?
The words “diversity” and “inclusion” are used a lot in the business world. But how many of us understand the scope of what those two words mean? There is still a widely-accepted assumption that the diversity discussion is limited to minorities and women. But it’s so much more than that. Diversity covers race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, geographical location and even generational differences.
The word inclusion is equally important because it takes the idea of diversity from awareness to action. Once you are aware of the vast diversity in the workforce, the next step is to include as many of those diverse perspectives as possible into your organization.
So where do you start? Diversity and inclusion has to be more than paying lip service to the idea. Your company needs a plan.
Four areas to focus on:
Executive Leadership Support
Of course your executive leadership should approve of and enable your diversity and inclusion ideas and efforts. And while it’s great to have that endorsement, it’s only the first step. Implementing a successful diversity and inclusion program in your organization starts from the top down. Diversity should be on the agenda of every leadership meeting, just like the status update on the company financials.
Use measurement tools – like a scorecard – to benchmark and then measure how your company is doing in specific areas. The only way to understand if and how you’re improving is to keep track of simple metrics. That way you can understand where the company began and what to do to improve. UMB is currently implementing these scorecards across our company.
Required diversity and inclusion training for every associate in the company is also important. Do not assume that associates at a certain level of leadership don’t need this training.
Consider working with local collaborative partners in your area. At UMB we work with organizations across our footprint to help us advance our diversity efforts in the areas of talent acquisition, associate engagement and business opportunities. For example, in Kansas City, we work with many organizations, including Urban League of Greater Kansas City‡, Hispanic Chamber of Greater Kansas City‡ and a new organization called Concord Cultural Center‡.
Fully integrating diversity and inclusion in your company involves applying these ideas to every part of the organization and including everyone in the conversation. The diverse perspectives will likely make your company stronger. When you have multiple points of view, you can provide your customers with a well-rounded approach to the business.
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