Experiential DEI – Are You Fully Benefiting from the Diversity of Your Workforce?

How to make sure every employee benefits from your diversity and inclusion initiative

Nicole_Schreiber_Shearer (1)

By Nicole Schreiber-Shearer, Future of Work Specialist at Gloat

April 8, 2021

If you were learning how to fix a flat tire and had to choose between reading a how-to guide or getting your hands on a carjack and giving it a go, which would you pick? For most people, trying things out for themselves often feels like the better choice.

The same is true for most types of learning. To capitalize on this, organizations looking to increase workforce upskilling and agility often turn to “learning experiences” in the form of short-term projects, gigs, and mentorships, all of which create meaningful experiences that can help employees develop new expertise.

But what does that mean for D&I workshops and seminars? While reading up on workforce diversity and listening to subject matter experts is crucial, employees should also have the chance to actively participate in hands-on experiences. In many ways, diversity and inclusion programs are learning programs, focused on upskilling employees with an array of important skills which help them recognize, mitigate and minimize bias.

Yet, the concept of “diversity experiences” is rarely brought up, and even more rarely practiced. The reason for this is probably due to what’s going through your mind at the moment: it’s difficult to imagine what diversity experiences actually look like.

The diversity experience

What does it mean to experience diversity, and what benefits does this kind of experience provide? To answer these questions, we need to ask what companies are looking to achieve from their D&I programs in the first place.

It has already been established that DEI is crucial for making employees feel like they belong and have a place within the company— but that’s only one of the reasons it matters. Less discussed but just as important is the fact that bias can minimize opportunities for business growth and hinder workforces from achieving their full potential.

In her recent interview with Gloat, Seagate’s Divkiran Kathuria shared a diversity experience that helped her realize how her own bias was informing her decision-making process. For a project she was putting together, she initially looked for candidates from solely English-speaking countries. Yet, Seagate’s talent marketplace helped her find qualified employees from a diverse range of regions, as she explains below:

“I ended up having a team from across the globe that helped me bring in the local context to our internal communications plan. None of us were from a primarily English-speaking country and despite that we worked beautifully together. Anyone using a talent marketplace will be immediately able to discover hidden talent – candidates and skills they didn’t know exist. And they’ll be able to experience how diverse, valuable and capable these discovered candidates are.”

Divkiran Kathuria, Director of Talent Mobility, Seagate

Experiencing the wealth of options that come with diversity

When people think about DEI programs, the things that come to mind are usually along the lines of sensitivity training workshops and updated hiring practices. What they often overlook, though, is the wealth of new opportunities that are integral to a diverse workforce.

The more diverse a workforce is, the more individuals from different backgrounds will be able to contribute something unique to business efforts. Once these opportunities for innovation and development are recognized, they’re impossible to ignore—but merely having a diverse workforce is rarely enough to make them known.

Silos and biases still need to be broken down for these opportunities to be visible—and in traditional organizational structures, it may be difficult for employees to present themselves as the right solution for a problem that’s outside of their immediate responsibilities. That is, if they’re even aware of there being a problem they could help solve in the first place.

 

So how can companies create diversity experiences that allow managers and employees alike to recognize and realize the full breadth of the opportunities that a diverse workforce can offer?

For the answer, let’s look back at Divkiran Kathuria’s interview:

You should really visit some of your customers and experience their talent marketplace firsthand.

 For me, just looking at diverse, undiscovered talent being surfaced by Career Discovery at Seagate is a diversity experience. Just like we have an emotional quotient, we have an intelligence quotient, I believe there should also be a diversity quotient. Maybe that’s a good way to put it: the talent marketplace adds to your diversity quotient instantly as you discover diverse, hidden talent in less than 30 seconds!”

 

Want to learn more about how talent marketplaces are democratizing career development? To find out more, download Elevating D&I with Tech: a CHRO’s guide.

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