Diversity + Inclusion
SEASON 2: EPISODE 16
It’s a fact: diverse teams build more profitable products. During this episode, Amber chats with Willie Henry, Sr. Diversity & Inclusion Program Manager at Facebook, to discuss the value of diverse teams, the point of diversity and inclusion programs and why companies (large and small) need to make it a priority.
Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) — What’s the difference? Diversity is a collection of similarities that we all exhibit such as inherent characteristics (i.e., race, gender, etc.),experiences (i.e. traveling, familial, professional and social encounters) and the choices that we make(i.e. work for a company vs. become entrepreneurs, pursue higher education vs vocation, live in a certain area, etc.). Diversity means acknowledging that our differences have value. Inclusion means recognizing that some differences are supported more than others and being intentional about filling in the gaps.
From big businesses to small, D&I is essential to maximizing profits: D&I is a major focus for larger businesses, but it’s important for startups, small and medium-sized businesses as well. Not only from the standpoint of profitability (the data shows that diverse teams make more profitable products) but also from an employee recruitment and retention perspective. Employees have more choices than ever before and their viewpoints are incredibly valuable. Companies that don’t make finding and supporting diverse teams a priority will be left behind.
Being seen, heard and empowered: Creating a powerful team means giving your employees a platform to be seen, heard and empowered. Moving beyond conversations and taking into account their lived experiences is one way to do that. Another way is by making sure that they’re supported. Recruiting is expensive, and talented resources are hard to find.
Bridging the gaps: Founders and leaders often understand the value of diversity and inclusion but these experiences are often lost on middle management. Actively training and monitoring your employees is essential. Your core values should be integrated at every level to ensure that your team maintains the standard of D&I practices your business represents. It is especially important to ensure that middle management employees understand and reflect D&I efforts so they do not create additional barriers and challenges for underrepresented groups (i.e. women, women of color, LGBTQ).
When your team feels left out: You’ve seen the newspaper articles, the walk-outs and the confusion. In some spaces, D&I efforts are touted as reverse racism or gender discrimination policies. Willie talks with Amber about how a lack of education is driving these conversations and offers suggestions to bring your team together with carefully curated content and programs that serve your entire employee population — programing that serves everyone but can be customized to include everyone, regardless of how they identify.
Creating connected teams in a divisive world: Society is more divided than ever before and that divisiveness sometimes trickles over into the workplace. Amber and Willie talk about what employees can do to create an inclusive culture inside the workplace that takes society’s changing landscape into account.
“What steps can we do to create a more diverse and inclusive team?” For companies that recognize they may be missing the mark and are looking for ways to increase diversity and inclusion, Willie offers a few tips:
Conduct an assessment.
Evaluate the demographics of your customer and compare the results to the makeup of your team.
Explore the demographics of the market from which you’re currently recruiting. In many cases, you may find that you need to widen your employee pool to find a more diverse talent pool.
To ensure your existing employees are comfortable, create a customer survey. Ask for real feedback and be prepared to address their concerns.
Willie Henry, Jr.
A human resources professional and diversity and inclusion thought leader, Willie helps corporations prepare for the future by creating high-achieving, diverse and inclusive teams. Willie has worked for some of the world’s largest companies in the world, including Citi, Coca-Cola, and is now leading the charge at Facebook as the Sr. Diversity Program Manager. for engagement
Connect with Willie on LinkedIn.
Why Diverse Teams Are Smarter by David Rock and Heidi Grant, November 04, 2016, https://hbr.org/2016/11/why-diverse-teams-are-smarter
Produced by: Kai-Saun Anderson
Music by: Podington Bear - Soft Driver and Rope Swing
Background photo by: Jonny Caspari