1. the state of being diverse; variety.
“There was considerable diversity in the style of the reports.”
2. the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.
“Equality and diversity should be supported for their own sake.”
Now that most of us have completed sexual harassment prevention training with our team members, it’s time to take on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) in our chambers and our members’ businesses. But, how do we go about that?
This is not a flip-of-the-switch conversion. It takes a lot of time to change people and how they think. The good news is there are amazing resources available to get you started and to guide your members.
What should a chamber’s role be in promoting DEI? Well, you know what we always do—form a committee!
If that is the route you would like to take, I suggest you include a labor law attorney on your committee to make sure no advice is offered that could land your members in any legal trouble.
I also suggest that your chamber’s role be that of convener. This would be a great opportunity to bring together managers and HR professionals who don’t normally participate in your chamber’s efforts or activities. Seek out best practices and share that information with your entire membership.
The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) has a wealth of information on its website (SHRM.org), including a guide on How to Develop a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative. Most HR professionals will be familiar with SHRM, but might not have pored through its website lately.
If you are in California, the CalChamber has a lot of information on its Promoting Equality, Diversity and Opportunity in the Workplace webpage (advocacy.calchamber.com).
There are countless consulting organizations available to help larger employers with their DEI programs. A Google search of “diversity” will return more options than you could choose from.
Educational institutions have jumped on the bandwagon as well and are conducting massive research projects on the topic.
Want to know if you have prejudicial tendencies? Take Harvard’s Implicit Association Test implicit.harvard.edu.
Ever wonder if you are making unconscious bias decisions? Check out this video from Britain’s The Royal Society: www.youtube.com.
Not a Fast Process
Ready to take on DEI in your chambers? Remember, this is not a fast process! Don’t replace a 15-year employee simply because they are over 50 and white. That is discrimination! Diversity includes assessing all job applicants for their qualifications and not discriminating based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, and all of the other factors.
Don’t forget to look at your board and volunteers. Does your board reflect the makeup of your business community? Do you have a wide range of ages represented? Remember, it’s never too early to start training your community’s future leaders!
Nancy Lindholm, ACE, is president and CEO of the Oxnard (CA) Chamber.