The call came in at 2:30 pm. “We are looking for someone to come and do diversity training next month for our managers.”
After learning they had found me through a generic internet search for diversity training in Texas I asked the next 2 questions together. “What do you want to achieve with the training and how does that fit into your business strategy?”
Silence. And then the answer. “I don’t know how to answer your question. We just want to know if you can send us some information about your rates. I’m collecting this information for our HR Manager and I’m meeting with him tomorrow.”
Of course I sent the requested information … along with an offer to do a complementary phone call with the HR Manager.
A week later I was talking with the HR Manager. He explained they didn’t yet have a diversity strategy but they felt they needed to do diversity training because some of their managers had made some inappropriate comments. In his words, the company was “being proactive to avoid managers claiming they didn’t know what they were saying might be offensive or inappropriate.”
I share this example because this was an organization that had the best intentions. They mention their commitment to diversity in their recruitment materials and on their website. They have the words diversity and inclusion in their values statements. And they also understand the importance of maintaining a diversity-friendly work environment.
But even their HR manager was not inclined to link diversity to the desired or required business outcomes. He was still thinking about diversity as primarily an EEO compliance issue. And he admitted he mostly thought about diversity as an issue to be fixed instead of an opportunity to help the business meet its goals and objectives.
He was correct to respond to a situation that might create a legal liability but he wasn’t being proactive related to inclusion. And he wasn’t recognizing how the training he was about to spend money on could actually be an investment that could lay the foundation for a much stronger integration of D&I into daily business practices.
The company did not need to have a separate diversity and inclusion strategy. But they did need to be able to connect this training to two key priorities their CEO had put on the priority list:
- The training would provide knowledge and skills every manager needs to have in order to achieve the company’s stated goals of being considered an employer of choice and
- The training would help create the stability and engagement needed in the staff to improve customer retention by 10% during the next 2 years.
Linking your diversity strategy to your organization’s business results is the most important tool in your tool kit. And being able to explain how everything you do as part of your commitment to D&I relates to established business priorities is very important.
Let us help you.