Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: “Fall in Love with the Problem”
At Graebel’s annual insideMOBILITY event, mobility professionals meet with their peers to explore the industry trends and topics that matter most to them. This year, it was no surprise that a key topic was diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). More than just an event topic, at Graebel, we’re finding that the majority of our clients are beginning or expanding on their DEI initiatives – but they often aren’t sure how to move forward.
That’s why, at our recent insideMOBILITY® event in Austin, we invited guest speaker Trina Scott to present a DEI Masterclass. As an advocate and expert in the DEI space, and my mentor and close friend, I invited her to share strategies for how organizations can gain momentum in their own DEI journeys to ensure individuals within diverse groups can fully contribute to the organization.
The ideal approach to making DEI progress
As the Chief Diversity Officer with Rocket Companies, Trina has a well-deserved reputation for advocating a thoughtful approach to organizational DEI initiatives and is highly regarded for her insights in this area. She explained that organizations often try to move immediately to DEI solutions without taking time to research and understand the underlying issues. She emphasized that prior to initiating any reforms, companies need to “fall in love with the problem,” a theme she repeatedly emphasized to characterize the mindset of the company and the process stakeholders should embrace.
“To truly understand a challenge,” explained Trina, “it’s important to do more than just look at numbers or check a box. It requires spending some time sitting with the problem, however uncomfortable that might be. Introspection is important – so is establishing a safe environment that encourages open conversations with employees and leadership. That level of exploration is the only way to understand all the complexities of the problem and the action steps that will facilitate lasting, meaningful change.”
DEI focus areas
It’s important to remember that DEI can have an impact on an organization overall, as well as a positive impact on multiple functions within the organization. For that reason, DEI should also be considered from a variety of angles. Organizations should carefully select the functional areas where DEI enhancements would be most valuable and impactful (“small digestible parts,” as Trina characterized them) and avoid selecting a focus area simply because a solution in that space may seem like an easy or obvious choice at first glance. Creative problem solving can also lead to helpful collaboration and support from multiple groups, both in and outside the organization.
For example, in Trina’s organization, their chosen focus areas included:
• Team member engagement
• Leadership development
• External affairs and community partnerships
• Law enforcement engagement (partnerships)
The value of research and asking questions
Every company’s DEI journey is unique, so the focus areas chosen by each should reflect the needs and realities of each organization in its current state. Surveying employees is one impactful way to identify ideal DEI focus areas, as well as provide more information about the current thinking, experiences and employee climate in those areas. Trina recommended that organizations ‘slice and dice’ the survey feedback into meaningful subsets – by age, race, tenure and gender, for example – to explore how groups view the same issues differently. Ideally, they should conduct these surveys several times a year, with an eye on continual improvement as new ground is gained.
Knowing the questions to ask can help to determine the data to be collecting in the first place. Organizations should start by asking how talent is searched for and hired, where talent is coming from, and whether one group of people is more readily promoted than another. As data is collected from the surveys, Trina suggests that the next question to ask is, “What’s the action plan after we review the data?”
She believes the data and survey information can make a major impact on your overall DEI strategy as it helps you begin to look at the business’ existing processes, set the right tangible expectations, and put effective systems and procedures in place to support them.
Communicating the findings and taking action
Employee education and consensus building are important elements of a DEI journey, too. Studies show that companies that incorporate meaningful growth in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion are more innovative and profitable. They’re also more engaging places to work, which means employees are happier and more productive. Leaders and managers should continually describe how introducing the input, perspectives and experiences from diverse groups into decision-making can lead to better outcomes and a stronger organization that’s poised for greater success.
DEI in the realm of talent mobility
Mobility teams can be leaders in their organizations in a number of areas, including DEI. Trina challenged our insideMOBILITY attendees to promote DEI progress by asking questions like:
• How does a person get selected for an assignment in your organization?
• How do you measure the success of an assignment?
• What’s the assignment success rate for various groups in your company?
This kind of exercise will not only uncover opportunities for making mobility more diverse, it will also raise additional questions that will lead to new areas to explore regarding how to make the working environment more equitable and inclusive. As Trina shared, it’s those conversations that help us all “fall in love” with DEI-related challenges and, ultimately, reveal the path toward solutions that bring about systemic change within organizations.
I’d like to offer our heartfelt thanks to Trina Scott for leading this powerful learning experience. Additionally, the time she spent at our fireside Q&A chat and interacting informally with event attendees was inspirational, educational and thoroughly appreciated.
If you’d like to discuss mobility-driven DEI initiatives for your organization, we’d love to connect with you. Simply contact us by visiting our Contact Us page.