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Leading From The Top When It Comes To DEI

In many cases, CEOs and senior leaders have little experience with Diversity and Inclusion. Senior leaders recognize the importance and value DEI can bring to a company’s culture and bottom line, but this is just a starting point. Below are a few ways that CEOs and senior leadership teams can begin taking steps towards creating a more inclusive and diverse workforce, starting at the leadership level.

Separate DEI Initiatives From HR

The first assumption that leaders make is that Diversity and Inclusion programs should be owned by HR teams. Traditional human resource management responsibilities revolve mostly around people management and operations and enforce company policies and procedures. When it comes to creating a DEI strategy - this initiative should be managed outside of the HR function and report directly to leadership. Look to external industry experts to help launch and drive a DEI framework, pipeline, and strategy that can be implemented across the organization. In order to create a truly inclusive culture and workforce, HR, senior leaders, and DEI stakeholders must be aligned on the “what and why” behind their DEI efforts. For example, asking yourself “Why is DEI important to the organization, and what is it we can do to be more inclusive and diverse?” The DEI strategy should influence not only the employee experience and culture, but also drive talent acquisition and talent management efforts across the organization.


Create A Safe Space For The CEO

The CEO’s role within DEI is to drive awareness and lead by example. By having the right people in place and a strong support system around the CEO, he/she/they will be able to confidently drive DEI programs across the organization. Since the CEO is the voice of the organization, speaking about diversity and inclusion is one aspect of this responsibility. However, at the leadership level, it can be fairly isolating. In order for DEI to flourish the CEO will need a confidant or outlet to voice any confusion or concerns and ask questions privately in a safe space. Since DEI has not been a large part of their career and professional experiences, the CEO may feel uncertain or uncomfortable around his/her/their positioning, statements, and actions. Identify someone in the C-Suite that is closely linked to the CEO or an external expert that the CEO can confide in. Within this safe space, the CEO can be vulnerable and build stronger confidence for discussing and driving DEI initiatives across the organization. Allowing for the CEO to have this safe space will allow for a greater understanding of the “What and Why” behind a company’s DEI initiatives and programs and how to better support them.

Inclusion Starts With “I”

One of the biggest challenges that companies face when hiring diverse candidates is retention. Diversity can have a significant impact on performance, collaboration, and driving results, but hiring a diverse candidate must be supported by a team, manager and culture that is inclusive. Many diversity candidates that move on to a new opportunity after a short period of time largely cite inclusion in the workplace as a key issue. At the leadership level, the CEO must understand the value of inclusion and demonstrate this as a cultural value. Create DEI programs, events, or groups that dive into what inclusion means, and how to make a diverse employee feel more included professionally and culturally. Create a safe space for people to have open conversations and dialogue with one another to pave the pathway for understanding and empathizing with different lived experiences.

About The Author.

With over 10 years of experience in search and business operations, Julian is a highly diligent and efficient marketer and operations manager. He is a proven leader who combines creative thinking and strong communications with operational strategy, business development, recruitment operations, and digital marketing. Julian joined Chapel Hill Solutions to modernize the recruitment industry’s approach. He is passionate about creating a transparent and collaborative relationship with his clients.

Connect with Julian on LinkedIn.


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