Powerful conversations are sparking a shift in the workplace. We are beginning to see a stronger emphasis on equal recognition, visibility and a voice to everyone in the workplace, regardless of their backgrounds.
Ray Dempsey Jr., Chief Diversity Officer for BP America and President of the BP Foundation, joined Kenya Dunn, Chamber DE&I Executive Fellow, for an important conversation to raise awareness, tackle challenges and provide a road map for the business community to lean into effective Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) programs.
Ray, in his calm and thought-provoking voice, proposed three questions for participants to consider.
1. Why are we paying so much attention to diversity, equity and inclusion?
2. What do we do about it?
3. What difference will it make?
Why are we paying attention to diversity, equity and inclusion?
Although the news has been at the forefront of reporting tragic events going on in our country, there were already rumblings behind the scenes of people that were fed up with inequities in our country.
Ray, like many of us, heard organizations say, “We need to think about DE&I because it’s the right thing to do.”
Yep, it sure is.
But, it’s not just the right thing to do.
It’s what organizations should do because it has tremendous advantages that far exceed any minor inconvenience.
“Diversity, Equity and Inclusion genuinely underpins business performance.”
Ray Dempsey Jr.
In our country today, demographics are changing. In Houston, for example, minorities under the age of 19 make up roughly 84% of the population according to Dr. Klineberg, a demographics expert that Ray mentioned throughout his presentation.
This is similar across multiple cities across the U.S. and we will begin to see the trend take a stronger hold in our entire country. Need a timeframe to help you better grasp this idea? According to Ray, most demographic experts project that the country will be majority minority by 2050 or as soon as 2040.
This trend is critical and businesses and organizations need to get on board. How you understand and adapt to the changing landscape will affect how you shape your workforce, sustain supplier relationships and strengthen reputations with your customers and community.
Those that make DE&I a part of the way they live, learn and earn will be successful in the end.
What do we do about it?
This is where it get’s a little more challenging. Just because we know it’s an issue doesn’t mean we know what to do about it. There isn’t a one-way-fits-all, but there is one word that gets the ball rolling.
At BP, the intention has been there, but they were challenged with bringing their intentions into execution. And intention alone just isn’t good enough.
BP is aware of this and is actively working to change that. They recently released a framework for action that has just been rolled out throughout the United States and will soon extend internationally.
Like BP, your organization should treat diversity, equity and inclusion like other business metrics of success, such as profit, safety goals or production timelines.
Identify constructive metrics that can help you find where your organization stands now with DE&I and where you want your organization to be in the future. Learn how you can fill that gap, monitor your progress and ultimately measure how successful you are.
The next (and super hard thing to do) is to talk about it in the workplace.
Talking about inequities in the workplace is an important step because, typically, it’s where you spend the most time with the most diverse people. Those that we work with come from different backgrounds and bring different experiences, and it’s critical to use the workplace as an opportunity to talk about them.
At BP, Ray and his team proposed “listening lounges” – a safe place for those in the organization to talk about their experiences with DE&I with a group of people. Although they were hesitant at first about how many people would join, they were thrilled with the results. In a matter of weeks, the numbers in the listening sessions continued to skyrocket and their team saw that these sessions unlocked a certain empathy for what others were feeling and helped people to think about their own actions more carefully.
Think about how your organization can create a safe space for people to talk about their experiences. You’ll find that even though everyone won’t speak up, they’ll listen. And that’s a critical step.
What difference does it make?
At its core, working to bring DE&I more heavily into the conversation will make the region a better place to live and work.
More specifically, your organization will be more successful. Once you embed DE&I into your organizational thread, you will have an organization that disregards unconscious bias and stereotypes and chooses to hire the most qualified person for the job and a workplace where individuals feel appreciated for what makes them different.
View the full webinar with Ray Dempsey Jr. below: