Do Diversity and Inclusion Have to Be Overwhelming?

Do Diversity and Inclusion Have to Be Overwhelming?

To become more inclusive (without overhauling your whole organization), start with these four steps. But recent shakeups in the corporate world have shown how important these efforts ultimately are. This particularly applies to startups, which often have a tough time implementing D&I initiatives, especially in the tech world. But entrepreneurs often approach diversity and inclusion efforts in one large bite. So, what exactly should companies be doing? Don’t wait; plan it anyway. Because of Diageo’s proactive efforts in this area, the company has received awards, recognition and heaps of positive media attention. After all, businesses are working with humans, so they'll have to cater to their needs, both physically and mentally. Regular trainings will help participants identify and work through deeply rooted issues. Depending on how those sessions go, you can then start adjusting the time line.

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In a word: Nope. To become more inclusive (without overhauling your whole organization), start with these four steps.

Do Diversity and Inclusion Have to Be Overwhelming?

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In the past, efforts at building diversity and inclusion have been more of a “nice-to-have” than an essential. Because these goals can be complex, have no simple procedures and involve multiple variables, D&I efforts often get shelved — and collect dust.

But recent shakeups in the corporate world have shown how important these efforts ultimately are.

Look at Prada, which recently announced the formation of a diversity advisory council after allegations of racism arose over branding efforts like its Pradamalia collection which stirred up accusations of blackface. H&M faced a similar issue when a marketing image of a black child wearing a “coolest monkey in the jungle” shirt raised red flags for the African-American community.

Fortunately, not every company is sitting back, waiting for a controversy to force it into adopting diversity and inclusion efforts. But the thought of implementing such an initiative may still seem overwhelming. The real question is: Does it have to be?

One giant leap for humankind

Letting D&I remain in the nice-to-have category becomes dangerous for one simple reason: Businesses run on people. And employee well-being ineeds to be part of the conversation whenever changes, implementation and forward movement are considered.

This particularly applies to startups, which often have a tough time implementing D&I initiatives, especially in the tech world. It’s common knowledge that women are woefully under-represented in tech startups (a fact reflected in this 2018 survey by Unilever Foundry).

And a lack of women is only one of the problems for these companies: A 2016 study from First Round Capital found that fully 54 percent of responding companies had nothing more than an informal plan for inclusion, and 23 percent had no strategy at all (or even plans to start one).

Baby steps

Given the big role tech startups play in the business world, it’s more important now than ever that they invest in true D&I efforts. No longer do companies have to please just a few homogeneous people within driving distance; they are working in a global economy, and their customer base is usually more diverse than the base mom-and-pop businesses previously served. These customer bases, in fact, now extend to different cultures and religions, even different levels of physical or mental ability.

So a detailed approach is key. But entrepreneurs often approach diversity and inclusion efforts in one large bite. They try to handle these tasks like any other work project. Yet because D&I deals so closely with human psychology, more nuance is needed.

So, what exactly should companies…

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