by Angela Almasy

May 26, 2021

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) has been a key, long-term priority for many organizations. However, the tragic events of last summer brought to light the need for tough conversations about race to accelerate social change. Corporate America, on its own and at the urging of others, has emerged as an important force in enabling and driving that change.

Stakeholders from all angles, including current and prospective employees, shareholders, customers and communities, are increasingly interested in this topic. From attracting and retaining employees, to selecting and engaging suppliers, to how your brand shows up in the marketplace and community, DE&I considerations are apparent in many areas.

Recently, Dix & Eaton convened a panel of senior leaders to share their organizations’ DE&I journeys and provide unique insight into the best practices, trends and challenges in creating an inclusive and equitable culture. Our panelists included:

  • Yentil Rawlinson, Vice President, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity | Sherwin-Williams
  • Erika Weiman, Director, Talent Management and Inclusion | CDW

Here are four key themes from the session:

1. Leadership commitment is imperative. As with any initiative, strong commitment and support from executive leadership is essential in driving DE&I progress. DE&I should be embedded in how the executive team leads. Each leader serves as a role model for the rest of the organization, demonstrating the importance of DE&I. Equipping leaders with the right tools and training to lead with empathy and have authentic discussions with employees at all levels of the organization will help create a more inclusive and open culture. Joining key initiatives, such as the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ pledge, is another way to demonstrate commitment and accountability to DE&I.

Find out what the future of DE&I disclosures in ESG reporting is by downloading our complimentary survey results here.

2. Lead with a culture of inclusion. A culture of inclusion is foundational to any company’s DE&I efforts. It establishes expectations for behavior and ensures all employees feel a sense of belonging. When employees can bring their authentic selves to work, they are more engaged and are likely to perform better. Leading with an inclusive culture also supports the attraction and retention of diverse talent.

3. Reinforce the commitment with communication. Two-way communication plays an important role in an organization’s DE&I strategy. Listening to the experiences of employees goes a long way in understanding various perspectives and building mutual respect for differences. Many companies hold listening sessions with leaders to facilitate open dialogue and discussion around current events and its impact on employees.

At the same time, being transparent and authentic in conversations with both internal and external stakeholders builds trust and confidence in the organization’s commitment to DE&I. Sharing data and progress toward goals, impactful initiatives and the work of team, such as employee resource groups, reinforce the message that DE&I is a key priority for the organization.

4. Embrace the journey. A company’s commitment to DE&I is a journey. While challenges may arise along the way, stay patient, listen and learn. Continue to measure progress, use data to refine the approach, celebrate every success and learn from others.

Interested in hearing more? Contact me for a 1-hour complimentary working session with our team.