Creating and Cultivating an Inclusive Workplace

Diversity and InclusionNavigate’s Women’s Leadership Network recently hosted an event at The Pyramid Club focused on diversity and inclusion. Featuring five local panelists and a moderator from companies around the region, the discussion offered attendees best practices for fostering and sustaining a diverse and inclusive culture.

Erik Gudmundson, the event moderator and CTO of Pegasus Technologies, did a great job of keeping the conversation moving and ensuring that the evening focused on success stories and actionable conclusions for attendees. For those who were unable to make it, we’ve recapped some of the highlights below.

Dana Beckton; Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Christiana Health Systems

Dana talked a lot about bias and how it influences the way that we think and the things that we do, often unknowingly. She emphasized the importance of being aware of our own biases and opening our minds up to different perspectives. She gave an example from her own organization, which has a large population of Muslim patients. When celebrating Ramadan, these patients were having difficulty taking medications that required food, as prescribed. The health system had to come up with alternatives for a problem it hadn’t fully considered before because of its own bias. She suggested that diversity and inclusion training and programs are key in fostering continued learning and a broader worldview.

Sulaiman Rahman; CEO, DiverseForce, LLC

Sulaiman explained that people hold onto their unconscious biases for a long time. He asked attendees to name the colors in a yield sign. Some people said yellow and black and some said red and white. Interestingly, yield signs were yellow and black until about twenty years ago, when the colors changed. Yet, some people still see things the way they were originally taught. As a result, he said it’s important to learn, observe, and re-learn when necessary.

When it comes to hiring in specific companies, he said that companies need to hire with intent. If they want diversity, they need to seek out and hire diverse talent. Over time, that will then become the standard.

Pooja Bansal; AVP-Service Level Manager, Barclays

Pooja specifically addressed the challenge facing women in the technology field and her experience moving from India and working with almost all men. She suggested facing the situation head on and showing how you’re qualified by relying on your experience. She stated that, “Sometimes you have to be first.” It’s not always easy, but if more companies promote openness and dialogue around diversity, that will help to cultivate a culture of acceptance.

Victor Hurdle; Senior Event Manager, LLC

Victor asked attendees to consider the last time they attended an event and were in the minority (race, religion, gender, etc.). He then challenged everyone to put themselves in those situations on a more routine basis to get exposed to different people and perspectives, then applying those learnings when planning events and meetings so all attendees are truly included.

Liz Brown; Founder, Design Jawn and Director, Backstage Accelerator

Liz highlighted the value of education as a means of becoming more aware of and sensitive to the issues impacting those who are different than we are. She said to keep learning about the circumstances and events relevant to other people and take them into consideration whenever possible.

WLN Diversity Panel

Overall, the event really drove home the importance of education in helping to reframe biases and expand our thinking to drive the changes required to improve diversity. We hope that more organizations take the time and care to create a diverse and inclusive culture. They will be rewarded with improved employee engagement and turnover rates as well as bottom-line benefits, given that:

– Racially diverse teams outperform non-diverse teams by 35%
– Companies in the top 25% for racial/ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above the industry median
– Companies with at least 30% female leaders have net profit margins up to 6% higher than companies with no women in senior ranks

We’d like to thank the moderator and panelists, as well as the attendees, who helped to raise more than $500 for Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Independence Region.

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Change Management Done Right
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