I attended the Diversity in Business event hosted by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal last week. Bev Brown (Xcel Energy), Tasha Byers (St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce), David Hough (Hennepin County), Tonya Jackman Hampton (HealthPartners), Philomena Morrissey Satre (Wells Fargo), and Ravi Norman (Thor Construction) spoke on a panel about their successes related to Diversity & Inclusion.
I liked the "three things" that Ravi Norman (CEO of Thor Construction) shared regarding best practices - these are true for disability inclusion too:
1. Intentionality - moving from a "diversity and inclusion program" to "the way we do business." WHY should you spend time and energy on building an inclusive organization? For many reasons, but here is one. Organizations thrive on attracting top talent and appealing to customers. Talented people want to work for organizations that value diverse perspectives - as these perspectives help to improve your products and services. And better products and services lead to more sales. So HOW do you leverage diversity and inclusion? Diversity and inclusion can be woven into the fabric of your organization. It takes effort - and good leadership. Leaders can start by listening to employees to find ways to build a more inclusive organization.
2. Sustainable investment - holding yourself accountable is key. Organizations can use metrics and other accountability strategies to ensure change is happening. Some organizations tie performance bonuses to diversity and inclusion efforts. It is also important to track how diversity and inclusion efforts are impacting your bottom line.
3. Open infrastructure - this is all about trying new things. Organizations that seek to continuously listen, learn, and take risks will have a better chance of reaping the benefits of an inclusive organization. For example, building a pipeline of future employees through a variety of internship or mentoring programs. Or establishing an Employee Resource Group dedicated to disability inclusion.
No matter what path you take - share your story. Diversity and inclusion is an area that we can all collaborate on.