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Diversity & Inclusion: Now’s the Time to Make The Change

"Creating a diverse workforce has to be intentional; it can't be unintentional. So, now's the time to make that change." - Ira Hughley III

Leading companies know that diversity, equity, and inclusion bring tremendous value to their organization. We hosted a conversation with professionals on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion teams from VMware, Square, Adobe, and PDT Partners. Steven Huang,Inclusion Advisor, led the discussion with our panelists: Jewelle Brown, Anjali Malipatil, Ira Hughley III, Carita Marrow. They spoke about the importance of their work and its impact on their organizations' hiring practices as well as the daily lives of their employees.  

Headshots of our 4 panelists

Here's a sneak peek of what they covered in the webinar. 

Question from the audience

What sort of resistance have you seen for Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) efforts? And how have you addressed those kinds of resistance to D&I initiatives being important and being put in place?

Steven Huang

Our D&I Advisor

I don't get active resistance. I get lots of misinformation that people have. And a lot of the work of a D&I person is to dispel myths that people have. For example, I've heard things like, "We love all these D&I initiatives, but we can't afford to lower the bar." And that's probably the one that really grinds my gears. What I would say to that person is that "By excluding a lot of deserving, underestimated talent, you have already lowered the bar. The jokes on you. If you're not considering a really diverse candidate pool, you've already lowered the bar." D&I is about raising the bar, changing that notion, and dispelling that myth. 

Carita Marrow

Diversity & Inclusion Talent Program Manager @ Adobe

Yeah, definitely the same here. I've heard things like "lowering the bars." But, it undermines the true progress needed for under-tapped communities. Reverse racism and "lowering the bar" are myths. Make sure you call out folks who say that and ask them, "What if I was in your shoes? How would you feel?" I think that's a way to counter it.  

Jewelle Brown

Inclusion & Diversity Talent Acquisition Program Manager @ Square

I think resistance is part of the job. One of the things that I find the most difficult in my role is that I can educate as many people as possible. But, it's really hard to change inherit personal convictions. If they're already not fans of D&I, I just don't consider them part of my army. And I'd rather do the work with people who are bought in. I would say that resistance has been directly correlated with the company and the company culture. I've been at places where it's just like, "We want to do this so that we can look good in front of regulators. There's going to be no meaningful work here. We'll say that we suggest this, and we don't have to prove that we'll have to do it." I've also been at companies that say, "Jewelle, whatever you want to do, we'll support you. Go ahead and do that." What I've found really works is to appeal to people's "whys." Get to the root of their resistance and talk them through it. See how many people you can bring along on your journey. Understand that person's point of resistance, shine the light on that, educate them on that, and show them exactly what we're doing in D&I efforts is an inverse of that. Talk them through the actual intent and desired impact. And that's how you'll be able to get through resistance. 

Anjali Malipatil

Head of Diversity & Inclusion @ PDT Partners

I've heard more misinformation, less resistance. The key here has been the education component and opening people's eyes up to their own unconscious biases that exist. The other component is creating that environment where folks feel like they're actually able to share what they think. And that's where, if you created that safe palace where people can feel vulnerable, you could also understand where their biases may be. It's scarier to be in a situation where you don't know what people are thinking. So, creating a place where people can speak openly is also a good start.  

Ira Hughley III

University Relations Manager @ VMWare

Some resistance you could possibly receive is that the work is really hard or there's not enough budget in place for things of that sort. One huge response that I'd give back to the budget pushback is that there's actually data that shows that the more diversity of culture you have, the more productivity increases. And when it comes to budget, the main reason behind the budget ask should be a business case. So, providing that business case, dispelling the myth, and telling them the true facts behind things is critical. Creating a diverse workforce has to be intentional; it can't be unintentional. So, now's the time to make that change. 

Listen to the webinar recording to learn more about why D&I work is crucial to building a more diverse and inherently better future for our companies and industries.

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