As a featured speaker at Create & Cultivate Digital Summer Camp 2020, Whitney responded to an attendee’s question on how to support justice and inclusivity and be a force for positive change in her organization.
Create & Cultivate is an online platform for women who want to create and cultivate the career of their dreams. Summer Camp is an annual summit hosted by Create & Cultivate that includes panel discussions, workshops, and networking. Whitney was featured during the Mentor Power Hour where she was asked to share advice with attendees based on her experience as a successful entrepreneur.
As a leader, how can I support justice and inclusivity in my organization?
Over the years working with clients of her innovation firm, Afara Global, Whitney has helped companies create innovative initiatives that have included strategies for diversity and inclusion spanning recruiting as well as employee engagement, retention, and advancement. Whitney urged attendees interested in contributing to these types of efforts within their company to first look inside themselves to recognize ways they have supported systems of racism and oppression. Then, look inward on an organizational level at their employees, their vendors, and their business (clients and customers).
- Employees: Look at your data to determine what percentage of your employees, management, leadership, and board come from underrepresented backgrounds and whether that matches with the demographics of the broader society. Make sure you’re recruiting, retaining, and advancing employees from underrepresented backgrounds and marginalized communities. If you don’t know how to get started, find organizations and advisors that can help. If you’re not recruiting, retaining, or promoting underrepresented employees, look at your processes and culture to find out why.
- Vendors: Relationships with vendors can mirror your recruiting processes where people from underrepresented communities will likely have fewer relationships within your company by virtue of their underrepresentation within your organization. Make sure you’re taking extra steps to be equitable when selecting vendors and being proactive about letting vendors from marginalized communities know about opportunities with your company.
- Business: Consumers want to buy from companies that represent their values. Be clear and consistent with your clients and customers about what your brand stands for. If there are things in the history of your organization that are problematic, be transparent about that and how you’re addressing it. Look at what your business is doing in the marketplace and how it may be having an oppressive or negative impact and make changes where your actions don’t align with your values.
Creating a culture that prioritizes justice and inclusion spans every aspect of your organization — from recruiting and advancement efforts to your vendors and suppliers to your customers and clients. Look at your organization from top to bottom to identify the areas that need to change. Then, prioritize systemic change through action oriented conversations and initiatives that are effectively staffed and prioritized.