In this episode of The Forum Podcast, Roselle Rogers (Circa) and Pamela Pujo (Affirmity) offer a practical and actionable guide to launching or refreshing your organization’s DEI program.
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With the increasing pressures from the burgeoning discussion around race and diversity, many HR practitioners have been assigned the responsibility for developing a Diversity and Inclusion program in their organizations. What are the key components of a D&I program? What are the key elements for success and engagement? How do you measure success beyond applicants and hires? How do you make it sustainable? How can you take it beyond a program into a transformative business strategy?
- Understand the core components of a Diversity and Inclusion program
- Learn a step-by-step process for designing a diversity and inclusion program that is integrated into your business strategy
- Learn best practices for implementation and measuring results
- Circa – The Future of DEI infographic – Download
- DEI Guidebook – Five Key Strategies to Accelerate DEI Program – Download
- Affirmity White Paper – 10 keys to Pay Equity Diversity Inclusion Financial Services – Download
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
[00:00:00] Presenter: The Forum on Workplace Inclusion 2021 podcast series is sponsored by Best Buy. More diversity in tech means more ideas that can change the world. Learn more at bestbuy.com/moreofthis.
[00:00:16] Presenter: The Forum on Workplace Inclusion 2022 call for proposals is now open. The Forum on Workplace Inclusion is excited to announce the opening of the call for proposals for our 2022 program year, including our 34th annual conference, Solving for X, tackling inequity in a world of unknowns. Addressing complex challenges can be daunting, especially when the foundations of our structures are shifting.
As we look to a future of continuous and unforeseeable change, what must we do to tackle systemic inequities deeply embedded in our everyday environments and on harness inclusive, equitable, and sustainable ways of working? We invite you to submit a proposal to be part of the upcoming program year and to help us solve for X. The submission deadline is Monday, August 16th, 2021, at 11:59 PM Central. Learn more at forumworkplaceinclusion.org/CFP, that’s forumworkplaceinclusion.org/CFP.
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[00:02:07] Ben Rue: Hello, and thank you for tuning in to The Forum on Workplace Inclusion podcast series brought to you by Best Buy. I’m Ben Rue, Program Manager here at The Forum. We’re looking forward to today’s podcast, a step-by-step guide to developing and implementing a diversity and inclusion program. With Roselle Rogers of Circa and Pamela Pujo of Affirmity.
With the increasing pressures from the burgeoning discussion around race and diversity, many PR practitioners have been assigned responsibility of developing a diversity inclusion program in their organizations. What are key components of a DEI program? What are key elements of success and engagement? How do you measure success beyond applicants and hires? How do you make it sustainable? And how can you take it beyond a program into a transformative business strategy?
This podcast will help you understand the core components of a diversity inclusion program. Learn a step-by-step process for designing a diversity and inclusion program that is integrated, and learn best practices for implementation and measuring results.
Roselle Rogers is the Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Circa with responsibility for leading its DEI program and thought leadership initiatives. She is a subject matter expert in HR and OFCCP Compliance, affirmative action, EEO, and diversity, and frequently speaks on these topics at various HR conferences and webinars, educating and keeping federal contractors abreast of trends and recent developments in OFCCP/AA/EEO Compliance.
She has more than 27 years of HR experience and is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources, and SHRM, Senior Certified Professional. Roselle is a graduate of the University of the Philippines with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Human Resources Development from the Ateneo de Manila University. She currently volunteers her time as Director of the Board of the UP Alumni Association of Wisconsin.
Pamela Pujo is a Diversity Advocate for Affirmity. She has nearly a decade of experience developing and leading successful diversity strategies and innovative DEI programs. Her expertise spans diversity, inclusion and equity, and accessibility with an emphasis on data, metrics, and benchmarking. At Affirmity, she helps clients optimize their diversity and inclusion programs through the development of their diversity benchmarking and reporting tools.
Thank you, Pam and Roselle, for being here, so much. We really appreciate you being part of our 2021 podcast series, especially with how well your session went and how well it was received in the recent conference.
[00:04:51] Roselle Rogers: Thank you, Ben. It’s our pleasure to be here. I’m so happy for us to have this opportunity to do a podcast with you.
[00:04:59] Pamela Pujo: Yes, thank you, Ben, for the invitation.
[00:05:02] Ben: Yes, I’m really excited. Let’s just jump right in. The first question is going to be for you, Roselle. How can HR departments help to make DEI an integral part of their organization’s cultures, just like a one-off, one-time initiative?
[00:05:18] Roselle: HR really needs to play the role of a thought leader in the organization and set the right framework for DEI. I think the first step is to dispel certain myths about DEI and define what diversity means to your organization, and why diversity is essential to your company. The first myth is the very definition of diversity.
Many people think of it as simply race and gender, it is not. Diversity, really, encompasses all of the dimensions of difference that make you and I different from each other, whether it’s race, gender, age, religion, disability, all the way to differences in our education, our socioeconomic background, our differences in our family status, to our thinking styles, viewpoints, and political thought. Each and every one of those dimensions brings a unique perspective to the table.
Better decisions are made and will be made when you bring complementary perspectives and consider those. Why? Because it fuels idea generation, much richer idea generation, and it fuels a synthesis of ideas and allows for the more superior ideas to emerge. Then HR also needs to dispel the notion that DEI is just a recruiting problem, you can bring all the diverse talents you want, but without inclusion and a culture of belonging, and equal access and opportunity within the organization, you will not retain that talent, they will just leave and you will continue to have a diversity revolving door.
Then third, DEI is definitely not just an initiative coming out of HR. When you start talking about inclusion and culture, your approach really needs to be more systemic, more comprehensive, and integrated. It will require the involvement of all of your stakeholders, your managers, your leadership, HR to define your people practices, your marketing team to help with your employer brand messaging, your business operations team to work on supplier diversity, and your employees because DEI is very much a shared responsibility. We need to engage all of the actors and build accountability for DEI among all of us.
Then lastly, HR needs to understand that DEI is not just a program, it’s a transformation process. That’s what we’re managing. It’s an organizational change process that takes time. Like any good oldie process, it requires the patient investment of effort, resources, and time because inclusion will not happen overnight. HR is the shepherd that needs to guide the organization through those stages from compliance-focused DEI, to programmatic DEI, to either led DEI.
Then finally, to integrate a DEI where it is integrated into all aspects of your organization, its behaviors, its structures, its systems, and inclusion is now mainstream into the way you do business. That’s what I think HR’s role is when it comes to making sure that diversity or DEI efforts are not just piecemeal into the organization, and it’s more of an integrated, comprehensive approach.
[00:08:56] Ben: Thank you so much. That’s such a great answer. You mentioned DEI involving all of us, and that involves leadership buy-in as well. How do you secure leaders of buy-in? What are some strategies that encourage leadership involvement?
[00:09:11] Pamela: That’s a great question that’s always top of mind with a lot of organizations when they’re looking for to start their DEI strategy. We know that a successful DEI strategy starts with a c-suite that would embody the culture that it wants to create. That means, it’s important to drive home how diversity and inclusion positively impact each line of business, and the potential negative effects when DEI is absent.
The best way that we can look at establishing diversity and inclusion as a business driver is to tie it to your organization’s most critical business priorities. We know we’ve all heard the research from McKinsey & Company that has shown that companies in that top quartile that have ethnic and cultural diversity on their executive teams, they’re more likely to have those industry-leading profitability.
We should always make the relevant to every leader within our organizations. Should not just be the chief diversity officer, should not be the only senior leader with a primary focus on DEI. We need leaders all across all areas of the organization from executive leaders, all the way to middle managers and supervisors, they should be fully engaged and equally involved in the development and implementation of your organization’s DEI strategy.
[00:10:43] Roselle: I would also add that you also need to create urgency, because statistics show that by 2035, there will not be a single ethnic minority group anymore. The data also shows us that in 2019, millennials comprised the largest majority group in the workforce, and they are by far the most diverse. Just think about that. Fast forward five, 10 years from now, do we think things will be more diverse or less diverse? Because this is the least diverse we will ever be.
The labor market we recruit from, the society, and the public we sell products and services to, it’s just going to be more and more diverse. The future is diverse, and the sooner we start operating within that framework and understanding, the better served our organizations will be because the companies who lag behind, who don’t start soon, are the ones who are going to play a catch up because we’re all competing for the same talent, and we’re all competing for the same customers. As we said, DEI does not happen overnight and we really need to start now.
Now, how do you encourage leadership involvement? When you secure a leadership buy-in, take it all the way to resourcing and budget. It cannot just be lip service. Many times we forget to take it all the way to that. Make sure you have line items in your annual budget for DEI activities. Get DEI into your company’s strategic plan, have it be part of your corporate goals, and then you cascade responsibility and accountability for accomplishing those goals across all of your managers.
Make sure you have a DEI plan that assigns objectives and metrics across various departments, because DEI should be part of the managers’ OKRs. We are all responsible for DEI, and we are measured and evaluated based on those accomplishments that we have against our DEI goals. That’s how you make managers and leadership accountable for DEI.
[00:13:01] Ben: Thank you for that. Speaking of metrics and goals, what are best practices for engaging applicants to identify so we can see how diverse our workforce is?
[00:13:15] Roselle: When you invite applicants to identify, the most important thing would be to explain why are you collecting this information, and explain that the information is not going to be used in the employment decision. However, what we’re finding is this is not enough because applicants are reticent to disclose, because they’re afraid it will negatively impact their chances, or that they are going to be steered towards certain jobs or be stereotyped.
What is it that employers can do? The key is to build a safe and welcoming workplace and communicate that in your messaging to your applicants. If that is the policy and philosophy of your organization, it will show in the way your recruiters, your hiring managers, and your employees interact with your applicants. Actions need to back your messaging. Then second, do work with your talent acquisition team, your HR, and marketing team to make your job ads and group website more welcoming and inclusive of people with disabilities.
Work on both the messaging and the imagery, and then consider having video testimonials from employees speaking to your work culture, and have those be on your employment or career website. Then third, promote your company as a diverse and inclusive employer. Branding is important, do you know why? Because diversity attracts diversity, and so be on your website, try to use social media, and email campaigns to various touchpoints, to reach your prospective applicants, and really establish yourself as a diverse and inclusive brand.
[00:15:13] Ben: Thank you. Once hired, what are some best practices for onboarding diverse talent?
[00:15:20] Roselle: Onboarding is so very critical to the retention of diverse talent. You invested all of this time and effort to bring them in. You really needed to invest just as much time, if not more effort, in retaining them in order to avoid what we call the diversity revolving door, because while we have put a lot of attention to diversity recruiting, many companies haven’t put as much attention to diversity retention.
We haven’t really created a formal back-end process that fights to keep the successfully recruited employees after they start. Statistics show that diverse employees who leave, they usually make that decision within their first 90 days, and they leave within their first 12 months. When you’re evaluating your onboarding process, considered the following, the content, the actual procedure and systems, and duration, how is it being undertaken? Who is helping them? Are those people trained so that everyone has a consistent onboarding experience?
Take a look at the timeframe and make sure that the duration is long enough to ensure success on the job, make sure that your new employees are being equipped with the tools, with the resources, and the information they need to succeed. Then provide the mentors to guide and show them the ropes to navigate your organization, and also to socialize them, and help them assimilate. Then consider matching them with, or give them access to successful people who are in similar roles, who can be their mentor and sponsor.
We also know that it’s not just onboarding that affects retention, companies also need to invest time and resources focusing on culture and ensuring that your diverse employees have an opportunity to advance and grow in your organization. This requires looking at your people’s practices, policies, and procedures. Onboarding is just the start. What would really retain your diverse talent in your organization is if they can actually grow, develop, and advance within your organization. Inclusion and that culture development is very, very important.
[00:17:50] Ben: That is yes, so very important. Especially here in Minneapolis, or Minnesota in general, we have a bit of an issue retaining diverse talent in Minnesota. Hopefully, that will help in alleviating that. You mentioned about culture in the companies, how can companies engage in employee resource groups in the DEI strategy and implementation process?
[00:18:17] Pamela: That’s a very good question, Ben. Employer resource groups are so vitally important to the overall culture of a company, we see that they are climbing up the agenda at many leading organizations as a pivotal component of their DEI strategy. The ERGs, they can lend powerful support to critical business and talent objectives, especially those that Roselle just mentioned pertaining to talent acquisition, such as also increasing employee retention
by developing those new leaders through hosting leadership workshops, and also helping to recruit that high quality diverse talent. They can do this by attending career fairs, sharing those job openings with their networks, and also referring top talent. If they’re a member of the employee resource groups.
We also know that the ERGs can contribute significantly to your talent acquisition, as well as mentorship efforts. Having ERG members attend those career fairs will help you reach your hiring goals because as we mentioned earlier, if you see someone who you can assimilate with our connect with, you’re more than likely to want to apply to that organization. Then also we know that ERG run sessions that educate their membership on career development will help with your retention efforts. We see that many companies also rely on the ERGs to help foster that innovative thinking and help them also break into or expand into new markets, that may be one of the company’s objectives. We also know that ERGs can help create that culture of inclusivity. Embedding that into the company culture, by helping to raise awareness internally, as well as elevating the company’s brand within the communities that an ERG may represent.
[00:20:25] Ben: Thank you for that, Pam. Do you have any suggestions on how to encourage employees to raise their hands to lead or even participate in the RGS?
[00:20:35] Pamela: Yes, definitely. The engagement process is so critical to the ERGs and the company on a whole, and it’s heavily dependent upon activities that the ERGs plans throughout the year. Looking at the group’s activities, it should revolve around what is the mission of the ERG, all’s to what are the goals identified as company initiatives, and then make sure that the programs are that members have expressed an interest in what they want to participate. When we know that the programs have focus common interest of the ERG, that will help drive those higher levels of engagement.
Then also, if we look at the benefits of participation, if those are communicated properly to the employees, then usually oftentimes they will participate and pursue leadership opportunities within the ERG. Some of the benefits are numerous and we can take a look at some of those that will benefit the employees. First employees can leverage those ERGs to participate in leadership and professional development. Second, employees will have exposure to skills-based training and enhancement, as well as exposure to senior leaders. Another benefit would be members have the opportunity to participate in an ERG-sponsored mentorship program. We know that these days mentorship and sponsorship are so vitally important to helping an employee transition to higher-level positions within the organization.
Then also ERGs can give members the opportunity to drive cultural change in the company and engage in company forums. As we’ve seen over the past few months, so many companies are starting to have those critical and crucial conversations with those employees given what’s happening in our society. Oftentimes that may overlap into the organizational spear. Then, forth, another thing is that members can connect to a wider base of employees through social networks, planned events, and social gatherings. It helps you become more connected with the wider range of employees versus those who you interact with on a daily basis.
Also, ERG can help with community involvement and helps members advocate for larger cultural and social goals that span outside of the walls of the organization. Another way, thinking about it, that companies can encourage participation in the ERG is by adding as a part of employee performance reviews. Managers could be educated on the value of ERGs and their tie-in to company goals, as well as our employee participation benefits the companies. Once this is done, you can push to add ERG participation to employee goals, and then talk about adding that participation as part of the annual employee performance reviews.
Then another thing that would encourage participation is having access to those executive sponsors that usually oversee or help in the development of ERG. They should also be asked to provide their commentary and feedback on how the ERGs are important to the company and how they can work with the individual members. I know a lot of times employees think, “Oh, this is like extra work for me. I’m already inundated with my daily tasks. How can I manage I’m also participating in ERG?” We provide the tools and resources to help them effectively manage their ERGs that can help foster and encourage participation. Having those management tools can also drive participation, improve communications, and also help to decrease time that may may be spend away from their main jobs.
[00:24:47] Ben: Thank you. I really liked that idea about including that in the performance reviews and goals. Another pay equity is an important issue in the today’s new diverse workforce. What should the employers be aware of when addressing pay equity issues?
[00:25:07] Pamela: Yes. Great question. Pay equity, I think is on everyone’s mind these days with so much attention being garnered toward the discrepancies in pay. When you look at pay equity, it means providing that equal compensation for employees to our symbol in terms of job duties in important characteristics, such as their experience, their tenure with the company location, as well as their job performance. Pay equity, it’s in line with looking at those controlled pay gaps, here in the United States, fairness and pay it’s usually considered through the pay equity lens, and is captured in the equal pay act.
Then if we can look at the flip side pay equality, it’s a broader concept than pay equity and refers not just equal pay for people in similar situations, but also to the equality of opportunity what motivating factors and also acceptance that lead to the proportional holding of positions across the pay spectrum. What does fair pay mean in terms of the various legal responsibilities an organization is subject to? Where differences in pay between classes of people cannot be explained, thinking about reasonable or acceptable causes. The organization should investigate the causes of unacceptable pay differences. This will allow such causes to be strategically address.
Then also looking at, while an almost infinite number of things can be done to address fair pay issues in an organization, it’s important also to consider local anti-discrimination and compensation laws when creating these programs. We know in the United States it’s illegal to make any employment decision based on gender status and discrimination against both females and males can be litigated. This would make a program that explicitly favors females for promotion unlawful. Similarly, many countries have provisions in their fair pay laws that prevent companies from loring to pay of employees as a means of eliminating pay differences between classes. I’m sure, Roselle, you probably have some additional commentary on this question.
[00:27:35] Roselle: Absolutely, I would also add that conducting a pay equity analysis is very helpful because it helps you surface and understand any pay issues that might access in your organization. One very important thing that I would advise employers to do is to conduct this under the direction of a council or a paid consultant for several reasons. One, you need to make sure that you’re comparing the right jobs. By comparable, we mean similarly situated employee groups or [unintelligible 00:28:08]. These are the jobs which are similar in terms of the work performed, their level of responsibility, and the skills and qualifications needed to perform the job.
This is to ensure that you’re making true apples-to-apples comparisons. Then second, when you unearth issues, you need to develop a strategy to rectify them, and the best way to address them while at the same time mitigating your company’s exposure to risk. For example, the most obvious answer or remedy, of course, when you find the inequity is to raise that person’s salary, but do you give it up? Do you give the raise in one lump sum or over a period of time? What if the difference is huge? How do you explain that to the employee? Some of the rectifications strategies that I’ve seen include providing merit increases over a period of time.
That’s one thing that you need to be thinking about. Do you also need to review historical pay records and calculate the difference so that you can make that employee whole? Is that something you will endeavor to do or address? Do you need to discuss with your legal council if you choose to do that about developing individual employee agreements that would indemnify your organization against any claims related to unfair pay practices that you are now taking proactive measures to resolve.
These are all very important factors to consider. That’s why conducting a pay equity analysis is good, but it’s not something I would do on a self-service basis. I would definitely work with a pay consultant, or an employment attorney when you’re conducting that. The other thing too with be advantage of doing it with an employment attorney is that all of the information is going to be protected under employee client privilege. However, the one thing that you don’t want to do is to do this study, to see pay gaps, and not do anything. Because now, you just made your violation willful, and that’s not a good thing. You’re going to be in greater trouble than when you started.
Then lastly, review your compensation practices so that you don’t create new inequities going forward. Proactively conduct annual audits so you can promptly fix any issues that come up. Those are some of the best practices when it comes to the equity analysis and addressing the big issues in your organization.
[00:31:05] Ben: Thank you. Is conducting a training needs assessment critical? If so, why?
[00:31:12] Pamela: I would say definitely yes. Conducting a training needs assessment is a critical step before you start any type of training activity. Just as an example, if you think about when you go to a doctor and you receive a pre-prescription before the doctor does a thorough exam, or performs in the attests, do you think that medication will be effective? More than likely, it won’t be and that can be fatal in your situation. Introducing any type of training curriculum without properly understanding the needs of your workforce can have an unwant– [inaudible 00:31:47].
Definitely, a needs assessment will help you identify the learning pathway for your workforce. It will even allow you to segment the learning based on an employee’s position in the company. We know a good rule of thumb is to have the training tailored based on if someone is in a leadership position, or middle manager, or even an individual contributor. We know that each group will have their unique learning needs.
Also, the assessments can help determine if perhaps your talent acquisition team and hiring manager should receive different training modules, such as focusing on bias in the recruitment and selection process. This assessment will also help to identify any ongoing training needs, as well as any type of periodic or perhaps niche training sessions that can be rolled out in the form of mini-modules. These modules, they can be scheduled to be released throughout the year, such as maybe a monthly or quarterly cadence.
[00:32:59] Ben: Thank you so much, Pam. I hate to say this, but this is going to be our last question. I want to thank you both so much for being here. I’ve so enjoyed having this conversation with you and learning more about what HR can do in progressing DEI. Our last question is, how do you counter diversity resistance in an organization?
[00:33:22] Roselle: This is a great way to end our session. Diversity resistance is real. The first step is to understand the reason behind the resistance and understanding that. Is it due to a misconception or misunderstanding of what diversity is? For example, they see DEI as simply referring to race and gender. Is there a need to redefine that and reframe that for the organization? That diversity encompasses all dimensions of difference. Or is there a lack of understanding or awareness of the benefits of DEI?
Perhaps they see DEI as only benefiting protected classes. We need to provide greater understanding around how DEI– is like the tide that lifts all boats and benefits everyone in the organization. Successful DEI has a positive impact on all business metrics across the board. Every single metric that DEI improves, are metrics that any company would want for their entire organization. Those are improve retention, increase employee engagement, improvement and employee job satisfaction, better employee attitudes and outlook towards the company, better employee relations, reduce instances of complaints, a higher sense of belonging.
There’s increased comfort in disclosing, in the sharing of thoughts and ideas. There’s greater idea generation, there’s greater creativity, greater innovation, and better decision making. Who would not want that? We also need to be aware of and disabuse ourselves from the notion that DEI is a zero-sum game. I think that is what is causing so much divisiveness around diversity, that what you give to one group takes away from another. Because diversity is not a zero-sum game.
An organization, as its name implies, is an organic, dynamic growing entity. It’s not static. It grows. The [unintelligible 00:35:37]. The benefits gained from DEI bring about greater growth, and the entire organization and its employees benefit from it. We will be so much better from it because of it. It doesn’t really make sense to fight something that benefits us. Instead, we should support it. We need to get people to that level of understanding. That is why training and conversations around DEI are so very important.
[00:36:09] Ben: Thank you both so much again for that wonderful conversation. Thank you to our listeners and to our sponsor Best Buy. To learn more, you can reach Roselle and Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. New episodes of The Forum Podcast are available at forumworkplaceinclusion.org/podcast. You can also find our podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor, and Stitcher. Thank you again for listening. Have a great day.
[00:36:38] Presenter: Thank you again for listening to The Forum on Workplace Inclusion podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast to get updates in the latest episodes. Also, tell us what you think by reviewing our podcast. We’d love to hear your feedback. For more information, visit us at forumworkplaceinclusion.org or search Workplace Forum on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Thank you very much, and have a great day.
[00:37:02] Presenter: The Forum on Workplace Inclusion podcast is recorded at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. One of the most diverse private colleges in the Midwest, Augsburg University offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and nine graduate degrees to 3,400 students of diverse backgrounds at its campus in the vibrant center of the Twin Cities and nearby Rochester, Minnesota location.
Augsburg educates students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders. In Augsburg, education is defined by excellence in the liberal arts and professional studies guided by the faith and values of the Lutheran Church, and shaped by its urban and global settings. Learn more at augsburg.edu.