We have all heard that in diversity and inclusion initiatives need support and drive from the very top to be successful. So how do CEOs and top management show their commitment to diversity and inclusion? We have asked a few diversity professionals for their opinions and have distilled their replies here.
“CEO commitment for D&I isn’t a simple, single statement and/or action, rather a process which involves the whole organization. As D&I practitioners we often look to the CEO, or someone at the highest levels of the organization to support and advocate for D&I. The usual reply we get is that their job is to make the business run properly. When the business case for D&I is clear and aligned to the organization, there is an overall greater chance that the CEO will openly state his/her commitment. Whether that commitment is linked to advocating the human capital component, new and emerging markets, corporate social responsibility, shareholder value and/or various other key business drivers – it is very important to provide senior leadership, with the information and knowledge needed to understand how D&I can be viewed as a business strategy and something that will enhance the overall performance of the organization. At the end of the day – it’s all about results (i.e., bottomline impact) with everything else simply conversation.”
“CEOs and management should demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusion through an active participation in the process. A few ways to demonstrate are:
- Attend meetings regarding D&I, whether they are ERGs or the Diversity Council.
- Creating a culture that requires support of organizational D&I initiatives.
- Allocate funds for D&I initiatives
Practicing D&I in their daily lives within and outside of the organization.”
“CEOs cannot carry the entire D&I initiatives alone. It is an organizational effort that requires participation at all levels. However, there are things they could encourage:
- Looking at policies and structures to ensure these promote D&I
- Being educated themselves about D&I
- Allowing time for people to adjust to their organization
- Creating platforms for exchange and debate, and embracing even those who do not agree….for they have a right to an opinion too!”
“The CEO needs to –
- work flexibly and promote flexible working,
- actively mentor a diverse pool of talented individuals and not just those who match the top of the organisation,
- change HR policies to reflect this”
“The CEO has to voice with conviction and confidence what s/he means by diversity and how diversity and inclusive culture are essential to the success of the enterprise. Diversity as “woven into the fabric” is a helpful metaphor to start with.
- “The CEO must establish diversity learning (not training) programs. D+I learning means development of diversity skills, or competencies, from the bottom up; training suggests passive, top down, being-told-what’s-right-and-wrong.
- The CEO must address diversity resistance. People often resist “diversity” and D+I training because they are being blamed for things they don’t do. They also sometimes think their personal belief system is being challenged by the “political correctness” of diversity programming. People are much more likely to accept and learn from diversity learning that steers clear of politics and stays based on research about things like unconscious bias. People must perceive that diversity learning benefits everyone and the whole enterprise.
- The CEO must establish effective diversity learning platforms that are right for his or her company. Diversity programing should never shame, blame, or finger-point. It should start with basics, such as an inclusive definition of diversity. It should be engaging and fascinating. It has to be practical, i.e., affordable for the company and not overly taxing time-wise for the learner.”