By Vernā Myers
Earlier this year, I wrote about how company efforts to promote diversity will fall flat if executives don’t also promote inclusion. In other words, steps to hire more people from underrepresented backgrounds won’t really work unless a company’s leadership is also committed to making those people feel heard and represented in decision making arenas.
That’s a major challenge companies face today — making inclusion work, Vernā Myers, vice president of inclusion strategy at Netflix, told me recently in a webcast.
Myers recommends three strategies for making sure your company’s efforts to hire more people from marginalized backgrounds take hold.
A three-part strategy for advancing inclusion
First, you have to get people from underrepresented backgrounds in the door, Myers said.
“You’ve got to do the diversity part, Myers said. “You’ve got to do the representation part, which means you mostly have to expand where you’re looking for people.”
Then you have to do an internal assessment, Myers added.
Executives should ask themselves “Who do we have in what roles? Who could we promote internally to leadership positions? Who are we not listening to?”
By talking about these topics, executives can begin to see where they need to invest more money and who they need to start meeting with.
Leaders must become “more conscious” and develop skills around inclusion, Myers said. A good place to start is to make sure you know what certain words and phrases like “equity” and “white privilege” mean so you can start engaging in conversations at home and at work. Another, is to educate yourself by reading important works on racism by Black authors.
Becoming more aware of systemic racism involves reading more books on anti-racism, (Myers recommends best-sellers on the topic as well as “My Grandmother’s Hands“), having more executives engage in conversations with employee resource groups, and investing in an internal DEI team (or hiring consultants).
“If you’re bringing in difference, and you haven’t learned how to positively impact the company through difference, then those people are not going to find a sense of belonging and they’re not going to perform on their highest levels,” Myers said.
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