Punto Final: A Business Case for Diversity
By Daisy Auger-Dominguez, Chief People Officer, VICE Media Group
Let’s face it, in 2020 everything changed and there is no going back. The world is paying attention to inequity at work in a way that I haven’t seen before. Black employees, employees of color and those who identify with intersections of different identities are saying, “We’ve had enough. We refuse to feel like perpetual outsiders. We want real change. And we’re keeping score.”
The business case for diversity in the workplace is overwhelming: companies with diverse boards of directors and C-level and employee bases consistently outperform those without. Yet, workforce statistics show a persistent lack of progress among non-white workers in the corporate workforce from entry to executive levels. And while much attention is placed on corporate boards, progress has also been slow.
As a Latina of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent, I know first-hand that the experience of women of color in the workplace is like walking a tightrope every day. Daily decisions – which parts of myself to bring forward, which parts to blend and be white adjacent, which parts will threaten or offend the least. How much space can I take? How many mistakes can I afford? Will I constantly have “un pie aqui, y un pie alla”, always exceeding the most unreasonably high standards while watching mediocrity go unchecked, or will I be able to breathe and be me?
The urgency for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace is clear but the roadmap is not.
Many companies have developed a predictable formula for DEI.
Step 1. Hire a DEI lead.
Step 2. Implement recruitment, training and community programs.
Step 3. Launch employee resource groups.
Step 4. Track progress, and if you want to be seen as progressive, publish your annual diversity reports, metrics and success stories.
It’s a neatly packaged, step-by-step way of addressing DEI that’s become an acceptable level of effort among most companies and organizations. But it’s not enough.
After two decades designing and executing DEI strategies for Fortune 500 companies, and as Chief People Officer at VICE Media Group, I know that it takes skill, will and courage to dismantle inequity in the workplace. The real work is about transforming the cultures, behavioral designs and systems that marginalize, stereotype and exclude underrepresented talent
For those of us who are willing to grapple with DEI in a real and substantive way, we’re going to have to admit what we fear and what we hope for, and everything in between. You can start by being intentional in using your power and influence to remove barriers and clear the advancement path for all employees in your organization.
It takes daily actions, like actively questioning the lack of diverse representation on your teams, refusing to tokenize Black, Indigeneous, and people of color, and speaking up against injustices when they happen. When you reflect on the power you have, the privilege you hold, you can begin to see the opportunities you have to create change.
If we all start being the allies we want to be, showing up and for our colleagues, doing the work, we can make lasting and meaningful change. The world is paying attention. This is the time to build lasting and sustainable change.