Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is not a new concept as it’s been around since the birth of equal employment opportunity and affirmative action in the 1960s.
Turning on the TV to a local news station, people see how DEI has come into greater focus during the past few years due to cultural awareness, demographic shifts and current events. And it plays a key role in business success.
Some businesses find DEI taxing to implement, but they are getting better at it and see an advantage over their competitors that are not implementing it. DEI is about building the right culture for business success. No one is excluded, the diverse community is acknowledged, and the playing field is leveled for everyone.
Kelli Ballou-McMillan, director, global partners, Five9, also added in Allyship with DEI. She spoke during a panel discussion at ITEXPO in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Allyship is about being conscious and intentional, ultimately learning to truly listen to others.
“I want to add the ‘A’ to DEIA. Allyship is important because allyship is that invitation for everyone to come in,” said Ballou-McMillan.
Chad Dixon, vice president, corporate marketing, Telarus, joined the conversation and agreed. Telarus is a Diamond Sponsor at ITEXPO.
“DEIA is an initiative, and it is fairly new,” said Dixon. “Allyship is the most important part of it.”
There are many reasons as to why it is important to implement DEIA in the workforce. One example is that businesses get many ideas from people of diverse backgrounds to come together to find a solution.
“When you have a diverse room, you can pull these individuals to figure out how to market and build a comprehensive solution to get to the end goal,” said Dixon. “Those viewpoints are important to get to a consensus and then move forward to the solution, the end goal.”
DEIA also acts as a conduit between the business and the customers they serve. Florida, Texas and California are examples of states in the U.S. where Spanish is a dominant language. Ballou-McMillan used herself as an example of why it is important to be that conduit.
“Me personally, I have a disconnect because I do not speak Spanish,” said Ballou-McMillon. “I need to adapt to the community that needs me here.”
Going back into the office, the discussion went more toward the hiring and onboarding process. People from diverse backgrounds likely experienced a situation where they are immediately turned away because they are not from a specific group, specific college or specific organization. This mindset also affects AI that learns what that specific organization looks for when hiring. It will remove applicants based on their name, address and college. That should not be a thing, but it is unfortunately.
“To attract a diverse workforce, you have to cast a wide net – can’t look at friends, families or communities that look like you,” said Ballou-McMillan. “If you want to grow, you need to have that lense in various groups, colleges and organizations. Look into their experiences.”
Dixon added to this by saying businesses also need to look at their own employee base.
“Do you have employees that do a great job? Look at those people in your organization who are ready to take that next step up,” said Dixon. “If they are doing an excellent job, they should be given an opportunity. Do not leave them at that same post forever just because they do an excellent job.”
It is 2023, and business are still having conversations about if DEIA is important. The fact is it is important. Diverse backgrounds, inclusion and giving all employees a voice in the workplace, no matter their position, leads to success.
Edited by Greg Tavarez