The Diversity + Inclusion Advice Every Executive Should Be Bold Enough To Try

GlobalGiving asked five diversity and inclusion experts to weigh in one question: “What advice do you have for leaders looking to address diversity and inclusion?” Here’s what they said.


Experts from 3M, Cummins, HubSpot, Riot Games, and Symantec weighed in with actionable ideas for those taking on the challenge of leading a company in its diversity and inclusion journey. Three major themes emerged from their advice:

    1. Create space for listening.

    Leaders must listen to others and create opportunity to hear all voices. “Be prepared to listen, learn, and grow throughout this journey–both within yourself as well as within your organization,” said Melissa Obleada, Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager at HubSpot.

    Cass Averill, Global Program Manager of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Symantec, suggests creating change teams and a change council to shepherd in change and make opportunity for tough conversations. Cass also encourages collecting inclusive data to make sure no one is left out of the conversation. [See five diversity and inclusion questions Cass recommends leaders ask in the workplace.]

    2. Tell authentic stories.

    Whether telling your own story or crafting a narrative for your organization, it’s important to address where you’re coming from and where you’re headed while communicating why diversity and inclusion matter. “Learn and tell your own diversity story. Each of us have sets of experiences and differences that make us who we are. Set the expectation in your organization that diversity is a core part of leading,” said Danielle Vetter, Global Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Cummins. “Begin by telling your own story of why diversity matters, how it has impacted your career, and where you need to spend more time learning about differences.”

    3. Engage leadership.

    Recognize that everyone in an organization, not just executives, can take responsibility in leading change. “Regardless of job title, each and every member of your organization has the opportunity to make your workplace more inclusive,” said Danielle. But you can especially call on executives to support diversity and inclusion initiatives and hold them accountable to reaching your vision. “Measure progress and hold leaders accountable for diversity and inclusion goals,” says Ann M. Anaya, Chief Diversity Officer at 3M.

You won’t want to miss these additional insights from diversity and inclusion leaders:

    Soha El-Sabaawi, Manager of Diversity and Inclusion at Riot Games
    Follow Soha on Twitter @sokareemie

    “Prepare for shifting goal posts; diversity and inclusion is a multi-faceted journey that shifts and evolves with society’s movements… Don’t be overwhelmed! Stay focused on measurable impact and humble yourself with constant education.”


    Melissa Obleada, Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager at HubSpot
    Follow Melissa on Twitter @MelissaObleada

    “Addressing diversity, inclusion, and belonging isn’t a check the box initiative, but rather an ongoing conversation that will change and evolve over time. As a leader, you have the power and responsibility to set the tone internally. To start, you need to identify why diversity and inclusion is important to you. It’s not until you believe in this cause and can articulate those beliefs to your organization that you will impact and influence real change for the better.”


    Cass Averill, Global Program Manager of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Symantec
    Follow Cass on Twitter @CassAverill

    “To be a truly inclusive company means your employees feel like they can bring their whole and best selves to work every day. They feel like they not only contribute, but that they are wanted and that they belong. When someone feels like the organization values their unique perspective and the skills that their life experience has granted them they will be more engaged, creative, and productive. Remember, without diversity, we operate in a homogenous system and homogeneity is the death of innovation and progress.”


    Danielle Vetter, Global Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Cummins
    Follow Danielle on Twitter @better_vetter

    “Make time in your agenda to discuss diversity and inclusion with your teams. Diversity and inclusion becomes more than a buzzword when you dedicate time to focus on making a workplace where everyone can contribute not in spite of their diversity, but because of their diversity. For employees to feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work, there needs to be regular and ongoing space for tough conversations. Regardless of job title, each and every member of your organization has the opportunity to make your workplace more inclusive.”


    Ann M. Anaya, Esq., Chief Diversity Officer at 3M

    “Partner with executive champions, employee networks, and communications and design professionals to share stories about the value of diversity and inclusion. Align human resources processes with your diversity and inclusion goals to create synergy.”


    Help your employees bring their full selves to work.


    Featured Photo: Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders by Global Diversity Foundation

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