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The World Economic Forum at Davos focuses on the intersection of global economic and societal issues. This year, many of those conversations focused on talent, signaling the fact that global leaders recognize it is the main input of company value. Talent is moving to the center of discussions about competitiveness, economic trends, sustainability, fairness and more. One clear theme of these discussions was that the winners in the war for talent will be people-first companies who embrace smart and fair hiring practices.
Daniel Chait, CEO of Greenhouse and co-author of Talent Makers, discussed the importance of fairness in hiring and the progress that companies are making with inclusion, diversity, equity and allyship in a series of conversations and interviews while at the Forum.
People-first practices drive the best business results
When asked about how she thinks about DE&I as a leader, Marissa Andrada, board director at Krispy Kreme and former Chief Diversity, Inclusion and People Officer at Chipotle, had a simple answer – “It really is about what a company can do to drive the best innovation and drive the best business outcomes,” she said.
In her experience, being able to cultivate people-first practices results in better business outcomes. She notes that all people thrive when they feel confident and appreciated for who they are, what they think and what they can bring to the table – and so her mission is to cultivate cultures and environments where people can feel that.
She added, “and then I would take it a step further – how do we help you grow not only in the role that you're in, but what you're trying to accomplish in your life?”
It’s okay to approach DE&I with both your mind and your heart
Daniel also sat down with Kavitha Prabhakar, Chief Diversity Equity and Inclusion officer at Deloitte. KP, as her friends call her, noted that DE&I is a complex topic, but she agreed the work is a business imperative. “You see tremendous impact when you focus on [DE&I], whether it be on innovation, whether it be on your bottom line, whether it be on your growth, it is significantly impactful in having the kind of future that you really dream of for your children,” she said.
She calls this the “mind” side of DE&I. But it also has a “heart” side, she said. “When you're talking about lived experiences of individuals and what makes them different, and the value they bring distinctly to an organization, it’s personal,” she added.
Change starts with practical actions
Kimfer Flanery-Rye, DE&I practitioner and founder of Inclusion Equals, looks at DE&I through a strategic lens. With a business leader background, Kimfer brings a unique approach to the practice of DE&I, preferring to look at it as a business strategy, beyond simple learning and development.
This is not a sprint. This is a marathon, without an end.
Kimfer added, “So you have to march forward. Just like your business strategy changes, your DE&I has to be integrated and it grows with you as your org matures. It has to be systematically built throughout the organization.”
Company cultural audits are a must
For Adrienne C. Smith, creating real DE&I change starts with listening to the lived experiences within an organization. When she took on her current role as Chief Diversity and Inclusion officer at FleishmanHillard, one of her first steps was to zoom out and take a look at the company as a whole. “We did a cultural audit – an inclusion audit, if you will – and we had an organization come in and interview key stakeholders in the company,” she tells Daniel.
That work included round tables and focus groups so leadership could hear about inclusion from employees throughout the org. They learned that the company was in fact already doing a good job: the policies and practices were in place, but they needed to make sure they were implementing them.
“We have to be more consistent in terms of the storytelling we do about our own organization,” Adrienne mentioned.
Understand the macro trends fueling diversity in the workplace
Jesus Mantas, Global Managing Partner at IBM, brings a global framework to the idea of DE&I as a business strategy. He tells Daniel that he sees three main trends impacting businesses around the world today. The first is the sheer complexity of today’s issues, whether it’s climate change, food shortages or a pandemic. The second trend is the future of digitization and how it will impact every product or service. And the third trend is the growing importance of the individual user experience to all business strategies.
The impact of these three trends, Jesus says, is related to DE&I because addressing them requires a diverse workforce. “It means in most of the areas of business, we're going to have to get people from creative backgrounds and people from non-creative backgrounds like technology, functional finance to actually work together,” he shared with Daniel.
Learn more about the benefits of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, here.