This year’s i4cp conference offered a peek at the currently evolving nature of business and work. Through the Chief Diversity Officer Board Forum that immediately preceded the conference, we also explored how this evolution might impact D&I today as well as in the near future and considered some of the Next Practices needed to address these emerging conditions. Here are 10 key takeaways that emerged:
- Since form follows function, and today’s business environment is rapidly changing, CDOs must develop operational structures that derive their stability in supporting the organization from the fact that they are always ready to recognize and properly respond to disruptions to the business.
- The workforce is becoming increasingly complex as a variety of new types of workers, such as “gig-workers,” temps, allies, and others join traditional members of the workforce called employees. The D&I function needs to embrace these new members in the human capital value-chain and include them in inclusion efforts.
- In the not too far off future, the D&I function may be called upon to help extend inclusive collaboration efforts to non-organic team members such as IBM’s Watson. What biases might people have that prevent their organizations from fully engaging with and leveraging these new thinking tools? And how can D&I leaders participate in helping bring about more productive collaborations?
- D&I leaders who want to “gain market share” with business leadership, first need to gain “mind share.” This “mind share” is gained by speaking the language of business. Instead of focusing solely on being understood and making business leaders “get D&I,” D&I leaders need to start to build the communication bridge by first seeking to understand and speak the language of their business.
- The CDO must help leaders throughout their organizations to create "DIBs" (Diversity and Inclusion + Belonging-moments) for every person in the organization. This coupled with creating an ambience that makes everyone feel they belong is a big step toward driving enterprise wide inclusion.
- If we really want to get far in our practice in today's fast paced, rapid changing world, we need to make the journey together with peer allies. No single one of us knows as much as a team of us.
- D&I cannot create measureable value without strong partnerships and collaborations with other components of the organization, such as sales, marketing, recruiting, HR business partners, etc. D&I leaders therefore must be at many tables and they must be contributors and influencers toward inclusion at all those tables.
- To drive measureable ROI, every D&I effort must begin with a strategic end in mind: Pick the efforts that are most significant to the company, clearly quantify where you're starting, clearly define where you're going and identify the metrics that will be used to measure progress and evidence outcomes.
- Since the success of D&I leaders is based on effective teamwork with other parts of the organization, D&I leaders need to develop their skills in connecting with others deeply at the root level. That means being open to others and seeking to truly understand their needs and drives so we can appreciate their intentions and draw closer instead of building walls based on misinterpretations of their actions.
- Being a successful D&I professional takes grit: Guts, Resolution, Intensity, and Tenacity. Change leaders cannot be wilting, risk-averse people.
Throughout the course of this year, the Chief Diversity Officer Board will carefully explore some of the D&I Next Practices that are in place today in our member organizations. Next Practices are things these members are doing in their organizations that are currently not widely adopted but are working in terms of providing competitive advantage as well as tangible and intangible benefits, because they address one or more of the key elements listed above.
As a Board, we know that the best way to ensure our collective success in the future is by proactively inventing and investing in that future. We look forward to making the rest of this year one of discovery and development of Next Practices Now!