When It Comes to DEI, Actions Speak Louder Than Words

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Michael Spath: Welcome to this month’s Kapnick Insurance Ask the Expert. I am joined by a friend of mine and colleague at Kapnick Insurance, Erica White, to talk about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Erica, everybody talks about it now in the corporate space. And what we wanna discuss is a couple of things:

  • How do you transfer it from just being like a word, an idea, a thought, something that looks good on LinkedIn into actual practical reality for a company.
  • And what is the benefit beyond societal impact? And that’s certainly a benefit, but what is the often the bottom line benefit of being a more diverse and inclusive business.

Erica White: Thank you for having me, Michael.

Michael: Diversity, inclusion it’s everywhere, everywhere. Disney does it. And Walmart does it and Apple does it. And not that we’re gonna single out anybody who doesn’t do it well, but I mean, there’s a whole difference between talking about it and doing it.

Erica: Oh, absolutely. And I think you hit it on the head. It’s not just saying, hey, we’re diverse, we’re inclusive, we’re equitable. What are you doing to show that diversity? What are you doing to show that inclusion? What are you doing to make things equitable for people that have been marginalized or historically disadvantaged?

I like to think of diversity as who we are. I like to think of inclusion as how we treat the people that are there. So diversity is the people. Inclusion is how we treat those people. Equity is how those people are supported. So are, are the people that we have in our organization receiving the support that they need?

Once we have set some intentionality behind, you have to make things measurable too so there is some accountability.

When we’re hiring:

  • are we looking at every open position?
  • what efforts are we taking to make sure we have a diverse candidate that we’re considering?
  • are we actually interviewing those folks?
  • And then are we actually offering them a job?

So all of those are things that are measures that you can start to look at.

Michael: You know, this isn’t gonna happen overnight. So it’s not just saying like, hey, we wanna do this. It’s understanding we have a responsibility and that it’s not just gonna be measured within a year, but maybe it’s the measurement over five years, the measurement over 10 years.

Erica: Being patient and giving yourself some grace is important, you know, when you’re on this DEI journey as well. But again, there’s short term goals and then there’s long term goals.

We naturally have affinity biases. Like I may gravitate towards somebody who went to the same college that I went to, or who has similar interests in me. And sometimes they may look a lot like me if, if we have some similar interests, but sometimes once you take that step to get to know somebody that you normally don’t talk to, you realize how much you might have in common with that person.

We all have a unique perspective, and we all have something that we can gain and learn from each other. So our differences should be celebrated, not discouraged, or put aside necessarily. And sometimes we agree to disagree on certain things, but it’s okay.

Michael: One of the challenges that a lot of companies face is this trepidation of like having the conversations. How do you navigate through?

Erica: I think the word grace is important here again, because nobody’s perfect. I’m a certified diversity professional. I’ve worked in DEI and supplier diversity. But do I know everything there is to know about diversity? No, I’m still learning. I’m always learning. I make mistakes.

So, and I think when someone is on the receiving end of that offense, make it a teaching moment. Approach the person in private, because nine times outta 10, they are very appreciative that you brought it up because they just wanna know and they wanna do better.

Educating yourself, having some self-awareness, having some social consciousness and cultural competency–those are things that we can work on individually. We don’t have to wait for somebody to teach us necessarily, but if your company has the budget and the resources to do that, absolutely it’s worth the investment, but it also has to be an ongoing learning situation. It can’t just be a one and done.

Michael: Absolutely, absolutely. Erica, bottom line. So beyond like, this is good for society, let’s face it, there is a tangible benefit to the bottom line. If there’s nothing else that drives a company or drives leadership to make changes, maybe this is it that you can be more financially successful by being a more diverse and inclusive company.

Erica: I don’t have any statistics off the top of my head, but if you just Google it, you will see tons of statistics out there that show companies that invest in about DEI and are intentional about supplier diversity have more profits, they have more revenue, they have better retention.

They have better attraction of employees as well. So the talent aspect of that is important too. If you’re in business to make money, which, you know, that’s a goal of most businesses, right? The people in your business are critical to that.

So the people that are working for your company and representing you, how do they feel when they come to work? Do they feel like they’re heard? Do they feel like they’re skipped over? You know, do they feel like someone cares about them? Do they have a sense of belonging? So all of that goes into the whole profitability piece and this is actually a competitive advantage.

And one more thing I just wanted to mention: once you attract those diverse individuals to your organization, how do you keep them? They really need to feel that sense of belonging. Are you creating equitable opportunities for them? Are you giving them opportunities to grow in the organization? Are you giving them leadership opportunities or are all your diverse people in your company at a lower level?

And if not, how do we develop and train and provide the necessary tools for those people to get to those levels or to be considered for those opportunities. And again, how do we hold people accountable? So things have to be measurable in order to get done.

Michael: I love it. Great stuff from Erica White. You can follow her on LinkedIn or email her [email protected]. Thank you so much, Erica.

Erica: Thank you, Michael.

Reach out today at [email protected] or 888-263-4656.

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