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"Be Intentional, Get CEO Engagement and Leverage Great, Measurable Technology" says Top 100 Diversity Trailblazer Michele Shelton

Michele Shelton, a DE&I advocate, speaker, and consultant, shared insights regarding the current state of Diversity and Inclusion as part of Talenya’s Diversity Series.

Ms. Shelton begins by explaining that companies' D&I strategies are focused on new issues in Race, Gender, and Class. While race and gender have been long standing issues in diversity and inclusion, sensitivity toward these factors are evolving. Racial inclusion has been an increased concern as a result of an eruption of recent protests surrounding racial justice. Companies are also expanding issues related to gender, including the needs of the LGBTQ+ community and even issues affecting men with respect to their roles within the workplace, outside of the workplace, and issues of fatherhood at home.

New trends in D&I are developing within major companies around class, especially amidst the global impact of COVID 19. “The world is seeing the impact of the pandemic highlighting inequities, which have existed for some time, being brought to the surface. Organizations are dealing with remote workforces, and considering how to keep people employed and bring them back once the pandemic is over.”

Michele wisely notes that, without a doubt, the most significant factor affecting these and other D&I issues is CEO Engagement. Human resource professionals and diversity specialists who oversee diversity initiatives in an organization must have a direct line to the CEO. This sends a message that an organization really prioritizes diversity and inclusion and is properly focusing on the three major aspects of D&I: people, processes, and procurement.

Once these processes are in place, in order for D&I initiatives to be successful, an organization must be intentional, both with respect to their company culture and the community as a whole.

The first step in improving DE&I is to assess the experience of diverse talent already represented at an organization. Michele explains that while many companies offer employee engagement surveys and exit surveys for employees who leave an organization, they seldom really lean in and analyze feedback that they are receiving to ask the hard questions. Companies tend to focus on the positives, but it is vital to reflect upon lower ratings.

“Once a company gets the whole story, they can start to improve the culture and employee experience internally, and diverse talent will feel more valued and respected. Valued, loyal employees will become ambassadors who will help to recruit more diversity within the community.”

Companies must also be intentional with regard to expanding their reach and taking a stand on issues in the larger community. Companies can better market themselves by expanding their reach and engaging more diverse communities directly as well as ideologically. Many companies have been prompted to speak up and speak out about social and racial injustice.

“It is critical for organizations who want to serve a global consumer base to make sure they are paying attention and that they’re responsible to the needs and concerns of the global community.”

As the last piece needed for a successful D&I strategy, Ms. Sheldon notes the importance of technology.

“Technology has been valuable in sourcing, recruiting and hiring diverse candidates. Different programs, such as what’s offered through Talenya, can help companies and organizations be able to make sure their efforts are much more intentional around bringing in diverse applicant pools.”

Finally, technology is vital for D&I because it provides the analytics necessary to create a business case for diversity, and measure which strategies are impacting the bottom line and providing the best return on investment.

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