Diversity And Inclusion: Outreach Beyond Imagination

The final episode of the 2013 HR Trends with Game-Changers season covered Diversity and Inclusion: Outreach Beyond Imagination. Our panelists of HR thought leaders featured: Jim HR Trends on SAP RadioNorman, HR & Diversity Consultant; Toni Wilson, Principal of AquaInternational Leadership Consulting; R “Ray” Wang, Principal Analyst, Founder, and Chairman of Constellation Research, Inc.; and Debbie Schmidt, Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Head of Transformation Office for SAP’s Global Strategic Industries. Listen to the podcast at your convenience here.

The roundtable discussion opened with Jim Norman’s timely question for all business organizations: “How are you utilizing your existing employee population in your hiring practices?” He believes companies can enhance their recruiting and talent retention success by establishing strong partnerships with their “employee resource groups” and their own diverse employee population. Jim is a proponent of designating “Interview Ambassadors” to deeply engage job candidates. “An interview ambassador is someone in the organization who supports recruitment and has a similar background and experience to the candidate.” This enables an ambassador to help a candidate relate to the company culture on a more personal level and feel at ease faster.

Toni Wilson proposed that diversity is an experience influenced by personal values shared by both employees and customers. “The extent that employees feel they are acknowledged, are adding value, and are respected in the workplace has a direct correlation with engagement.” And if the consumer feels understood by your company, they may have stronger loyalty to your brand and product. “Customers want to know they are dealing with people similar to them!”

Diversity, in the eyes of Ray Wang, is increasingly becoming a ‘hot boardroom topic.’ He declared that “the war for talent is real” as more and more companies realize the benefits of embracing a diverse workforce. Ray explained that because diversity leads to innovation and helps build agility within an organization, more companies are using diversity as a business advantage. As examples, he noted that you can use diversity to address your business model, fill knowledge gaps, and address new markets.

SAP’s Debbie Schmidt believes diversity must come from the top down. “Enlightenment of the leadership team and culture of an organization to drive inclusion is crucial.” Debbie sees technology as a game-changer in how we interact with each another. Companies can now conduct business without seeing people face- to-face. “It becomes more about getting the job done than getting caught up in the appearance or background of individuals.”

During the Crystal Ball segment of the program, the panelists predicted what diversity and inclusion would look like by the year 2018. Jim Norman predicts organizations will move away from diversity and move toward inclusion, to address how to develop the talent we lost along the way. Toni Wilson “sees us dropping the word ‘diversity’ altogether.” Ray Wang believes dignity and respect, and how we communicate and express these values, will be the future. And Debbie Schmidt is optimistic that we won’t have to talk about diversity and inclusion by 2018, as it will become standardized within organizations.

The new broadcast season of HR Trends with Game-Changers Radio debuts on Tuesday, March 25, 2014, on The Business Channel – Tuesdays at 9:00 AM PST/12:00 PM EST. We’ll bring you a new calendar of game-changing insights from today’s top HR and business thought leaders. In the meantime, you are invited to listen to our 2013 episodes here and follow us on Twitter at #SAPRadio. See you on the radio in 2014.