Marvin Carolina, Jr. recently participated on a panel sponsored by the Kansas City Business Journal called, “Diversity and Inclusion: Diversity as a Competitive Advantage at CBIZ MHM Headquarters in Kansas City. During the panel Diversity and Inclusion Executives shared workplace insights with a packed audience. The following is a repost of the article from Elise Reuter with the Kansas City Business Journal on the event. You can view the original story by clicking here.
Not only is inclusivity an important company value, it’s also good business. Four Kansas City-area executives shared strategies for fostering diversity in the workplace during a Thursday panel.
From hiring new workers to developing executives, they shared how diversity can be a competitive advantage in all arenas. The panelists were:
- Marvin Carolina, vice president and corporate director of diversity for Kansas City-based JE Dunn Construction
- Angela Hurt, CEO of Lenexa-based Veracity Consulting
- Chris Brassell, U.S. director of inclusion and talent management for PwC
- Christal Watson, CEO of the Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce
Why should businesses encourage diversity?
Carolina: When I first started, I would be sitting in front of a panel of all white men, over and over again. Now, it’s different. Now, it’s a woman, or a minority making a decision of whether they’re going to hire us for a $200 million project. … Our customers are changing. The decision-makers we’re working with are changing. That’s the impact it has on our business today.
Watson: It’s really about different perspectives. That difference enriches the organization. It enriches what you’re doing. We need to get past diversity just being an obligation and thinking about it as the opportunities that we’re missing. … I see it in pockets, but I don’t see it enough where I see our community transform for the better. Where I see economic growth across the board. … There is room for improvement, and it starts with our major companies embracing equity.
Hurt: We bring success because of our diversity, because of our perspectives in life. The way we’ve been treated gives us different perspectives. (Veracity Consulting has) a very diverse way of looking at problems and asking the questions that people sometimes fear to ask.
How do you create an inclusive culture?
Carolina: You have to ask, is this an inclusive process? If not, how do I make it more inclusive? It’s having people in the room who aren’t alike to ask a crazy question that makes sense. It takes a person who’s not like everybody to ask those questions.
Brassell: We’ve moved from an equality mindset to an equity mindset. Words matter. Equality is about saying one size fits all: one onboarding experience, one recruiting strategy; that doesn’t make sense. That’s fine if all things are equal and level. You’re moving to an equity mindset, which is not about sameness, it’s about fairness.
Watson: I’m trying to get to table; I’m trying to be a voice and have a voice, and it is not easy. If I’m coming to you, give me a chance to be heard, because part of the issue is getting to the table. … You have to be courageous and determined because you still will get closed doors. It’s not easy to do.
Once you get that initial introduction, what’s the next step?
Hurt: My first two to three large contracts had nothing to do with a diversity spend. … I had champions because of relationships where I had delivered in the past. We don’t go into relationship building as a diverse partner. We go into the job to work. We don’t want to just be your checkmark.
Carolina: You’re in the game now. You have your first contract — now what do you do? Whether you stay there and get better and grow, that’s on you. In reality, it gets you in the game, which is where you want to be. Then it’s on you.