At the CEB’s ReimagineHR event in Washington, DC, last Wednesday, over 60 diversity and inclusion leaders and other HR leaders came together to discuss where their organizations were in their D&I journey and how best to continue advancing it. Participants in Wednesday’s session answered a series of live survey questions and engaged in a dialogue with panelists Nellie Borrero, Senior Global Inclusion and Diversity Managing Director at Accenture, and Karen Wilkins-Mickey, Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Alaska Air Group, Inc.
The conversation focused on strategy and metrics as well as branding and communications. Although D&I leaders continue to face many of the same issues raised in last year’s peer benchmarking session, a few new themes emerged from the conversation on Wednesday:
1) D&I Leaders Must Align Their Efforts to the Organization’s Values
Gaining buy-in for advancing D&I is still a challenge for many D&I leaders. However, some organizations have found success by embedding D&I efforts into business objectives. When D&I is connected to initiatives or goals the organization already values, senior leaders come to see how it relates to their day-to-day work. One participant said their organization does this by tying measurements of diversity and inclusion to business results in order to communicate the impact of D&I on the business.
Organizations beginning their D&I journey may be tempted to move quickly to get to the more progressive D&I initiatives, but skipping foundational steps such as aligning D&I efforts to organizational values can slow down their ability to move forward in the future. “Don’t jump the gun in your D&I journey,” Wilkins-Mickey said. “Even if you are a senior D&I professional, if your company is new to this space, you need to meet them where they are.”
A new survey of young adults finds that nearly half of black Americans ages 18-30 have experienced racial discrimination at work or in the job market, while one third of young women of all races have been discriminated against on the basis of their gender. The Associated Press has the story:
This information comes from a GenForward survey of young adults conducted by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago with The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The first-of-its-kind poll pays special attention to the voices of young adults of color, highlighting how race and ethnicity shape the opinions of the country’s most diverse generation. The poll, taken in September, showed that 48 percent of blacks age 18-30 say they’ve experienced discrimination while looking for a job or at work, which was higher than all other races and ethnicities. About one-third of Asian-Americans and Latinos also said they experienced discrimination at work or while looking for a job. Just 10 percent of whites say they experienced employment-related racism. …
On top of facing discrimination, young blacks are more likely to think their race has made it more difficult to get ahead economically. Fifty-four percent say being black makes it harder, the highest among those polled. Thirty-nine percent of Asian-Americans and 34 percent of Latinos say their race or ethnicity has made life harder. Young whites are the only group more likely to say their race has made life easier at 31 percent. But more than half, or 53 percent, say their race has made no difference. Still, most young people across racial and ethnic lines say whites in general have at least some advantage getting ahead economically.
Indeed, a recent report from the Economic Policy Institute found that the pay gap between black and white Americans is worse today than it was in 1979, with black men earning 22 percent less and black women earning over 34 percent less than the average white man.
What do workplace discrimination and exclusion look like for Americans of color? Another new study of Latino Americans looks at what it feels like to work in an environment where you can’t be yourself. Sylvia Ann Hewlett, founder and CEO of the Center for Talent Innovation, and the study’s coauthors Noni Allwood and Laura Sherbin present their findings at the Harvard Business Review:
In the perennial debate over the qualities that go hand-in-hand with good leadership, many commonly cited virtues have to do with how leaders communicate:honesty, integrity, transparency, authenticity, and so forth. While some leaders take honesty to the next level, and others defend the art of deception, cognitive scientist Art Markman opines at Fast Company that the measure of a leader is whether their actions reflect the same values as their words:
This doesn’t mean that what leaders say doesn’t matter, but despite appearances to the contrary, people tend to pay much closer attention to what leaders do—and, most importantly, to what behaviors are rewarded and punished: In companies, who gets promoted, who gets a raise, and who gets access to the best projects and opportunities; or in political offices, whose causes get advanced, whose needs get addressed, who wields the most influence, and who doesn’t.
Jeffrey Pfeffer at Fortune makes the case that “authenticity” has limited value for good leaders:
First of all, authentic leadership is a construct with numerous dimensions, definitions, and measurements, which makes it impossible to study empirically.
Second, one component in many definitions is relational transparency—being honest with others so they know what you think of them. But this is often a horrible idea. A former student of mine once worked at a company that supposedly encouraged employees to share their honest feedback with others. She gave her boss at the time some (constructive) criticism. You can guess what happened next—the boss moved to get her insubordinate subordinate fired. Flattery is almost certainly a surer way of obtaining support than telling others what you honestly think of them. …