Archive for January, 2014

The Process, Part 2: Help Wanted – Diverse Candidates Only Need Apply

Posted on January 17, 2014 by Leave a comment


Scanning job postings one can find thousands of ads with the statement: “Diverse candidates encouraged to apply.” Employers also include the phrase: “An EOE Employer,” indicating that they do not discriminate in hiring.  This certainly has not always been the case.  There are many examples of discriminatory want ads to share with you and, although some of them may seem amusing now, they were quite serious when they were published. There are many books and articles on how to avoid legal problems when writing and publishing a want ad, but that is not the purpose of this blog entry.
I have heard variations on the following statement many, many times: “I cannot find any women who qualify for the job!” We can replace women with any other word describing a ‘diverse candidate’, meaning a person of color, a person with disabilities, et al.  My response is always the same, “Where did you look?” This may sound flip, but it is an important and valid question to ask recruiters.  For the past several years we have all been aware of recession conditions and high unemployment rates.  There are many statistics showing that more women (of all races) than men have been earning college degrees in recent years. 
(SOURCES: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2012) http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=72 The Rise of Women: The Gender Gap in Education and What It Means for American Schools, Russell Sage Foundation. http://www.russellsage.org/blog/rise-women-seven-charts-showing-womens-rapid-gains-educational-achievement)
There is still a gap in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields between white males and everyone else, but that creates a great opportunity:  organizations can sponsor academic scholarships for diverse students at high school and undergraduate levels and begin their recruitment in the sixth grade. The earlier an employer recruits candidates for employment, the more successful they will be in hiring a more diverse range of employees.  Employees who are in obscure jobs are thrilled when they go out and speak at local high schools and middle schools with the response of the children.  This helps with employee engagement, recruitment and marketing.  The children go home and tell their parents how great the presentation was by employees from the “Acme Company” and the parents get a subliminal ad for that company’s products.
One way to create a viable ‘pipeline’ of diverse candidates in STEM industries is to have strong internship programs.  This is a terrific way to find out how competent an employee is and for both the intern and employer to find out if they are a good cultural match. So, why is it so hard to hire ‘diverse candidates’?
Many job descriptions are ineffective. They do not tell the candidates what they need to know about your organization.  A job posting needs to provide three sets of information:
1. What are the job duties?
      Is the job description up to date?
    When is the last time it has been updated and by who?
      Are the job listed duties both accurate and relevant?
Potential candidates will often be dissuaded from applying for a position where the job duties do not match their experience.
2. What are the job qualifications?
  Does the candidate really need experience in a particular industry to be able to successfully carry out their job duties? 
Does the candidate really need a master’s degree in   business administration to schedule conferences?
People will not usually apply for jobs if they do not meet the requirements, such as a specific degree or industry experience.
3. What is it like working at your company?
  Do you know what the organizational culture is, particularly in the department or location where the selected candidate will be working?  Is the workspace open or are there offices or cubicles?
   Is it a highly socialized environment or more isolated?
   Is the team interactive or independent?
   Are work hours flexible?
Savvy candidates will do research on your organization before applying for a job with you and if their information conflicts with what you state in your ad or website, they may not apply.
Philadelphia – During WWII
Some of my clients have told me that they are successful at attracting and recruiting ‘diverse candidates,’ but they are not successful at getting them hired. ‘Diverse candidates’ are getting rejected at the interview phase of the process.  Recruitment professionals who have pre-screened and pre-interviewed candidates are often baffled as to why their candidates are not being hired. There seems to be a challenge developing interview questions that focus on the Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications of a particular position and developing interviewers with a high level of cultural competence.  Very few interviewers who I have spoken with are aware of Transferable Skills and their value.  For example:  If someone is great at planning a meal for 20 people, they can probably handle organizing board meetings or employee events.  The skills are the same they are just being applied differently based on the specific need.  Another great opportunity for employers to increase the diversity at their organizations is to provide transferable skills workshops for their human resource professionals and any employees who are part of their selection and hiring teams. 
Even employers who are committed to increasing the diversity and inclusion at their organizations are sometimes stymied as to how to achieve those goals. Sometimes this results in hiring of ‘diverse candidates’ who may not be fully competent for the position.  This creates a couple problems: first, the new hires are set up for failure if they are not fully qualified for the position; second, this reinforces the urban myths surrounding affirmative action.  So, I urge you to hire only the most highly qualified candidates for every position that you are filling.  I also urge you to reassess the jobs that you are seeking to fill, what they entail, and what someone really needs to know in order to do them well.
Employers invest a great deal of money in the recruitment and hiring process.  Fees for search firms are in the many thousands of dollars for each position, and the salaries of HR and other staff when prorated for each new hire brings the investment to quite a high sum.  So, how sound is your investment?  Are you selecting and hiring the best candidate for the job?  Is the job being described in the most effective and honest way possible? Have key members of the selection team been developed to be as competent as possible?  If you are confident that the answer to these three questions is yes, BRAVO!  If not, isn’t it time to reassess your process?
Onward!
~ Wendy
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The Evolution of Inclusion

Posted on January 13, 2014 by Leave a comment


“The Evolution of Inclusion” is an article that I wrote in 2008 and is a tutorial on how the field of inclusion has evolved since I entered the world of EEO in 1988.  I have gotten enough feedback on my recent blogs to see that this is still a relevant and necessary discussion, so I hope that you find this post interesting and helpful!  This blog post violates one of my rules not to exceed 1000 words, but I wanted to include the article in its entirety (just under 2500 words), for the sake of flow.
Onward!
~ Wendy 
 
In the beginning

In the beginning there was Affirmative Action.  Affirmative Action was all about making amends for past discriminatory practices in the workplace and the academy.  Women and people of color, as well as many others who were not white, heterosexual, Christian males, were historically barred from many jobs in the United States both systemically and institutionally.  In 1961 President Kennedy issued Executive Order 10925, which created the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity and mandated that projects financed “with federal funds ” take affirmative action” to ensure that hiring and employment practices are free of racial bias.  It was not until 1965 when President Johnson signed Executive Order 11246 however, that there were actual enforceable actions that needed to be taken.  This Executive Order also strengthened the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which expanded protection via Title VII of the Act, to prohibit discrimination by covered employers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.  The Civil Rights Act also changed the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity into the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, giving it broad legal and administrative powers.

Equal employment opportunity law was the big stick that the government used to assure that employees who were members of “protected classes” (those covered by the Civil Rights Act) were protected once they were hired into positions that were previously not open to them.  Affirmative Action includes guidelines for hiring protected class members based on the qualified candidate pool within an employer’s geographic zone (a 30 mile radius).  The hiring goals are not quotas and never have been.  They are recommendations based on the local population. 

Mandatory training was implemented for all covered employers in the area of Sexual Harassment Prevention and for any employer where the EEOC determined that there was a “probable cause” to validate an employee’s claim of discriminatory treatment.  This reactionary approach dominated the field of EEO for many years and resulted in a strong backlash by conservative groups and many white men in the workplace.  Reverse discrimination claims began being filed as early as 1978 (Regents of the University of California v. Bakke) and have become fairly regular occurrences.  There was also a great deal of negative media regarding affirmative action and EEO cases in an attempt to de-fang the law and its enforcement.

One of the greatest barriers to accepting the benefits of inclusion is a fear of numbers.  Many myths and misperceptions surround the reporting of EEO data and Affirmative Action reports to the federal government.  Employers conduct panic-stricken scrambles every time they are audited by the EEOC; they agonize over their Affirmative Action reports and their poor performance in relation to their hiring goals; and they focus on the very numbers that terrify them instead of the people they represent.  This sense of impotence creates resentment and results in an attitude that we will do only what we are required to do in many organizations. They felt trapped by the EEOC requirements and not empowered to do anything about them.

The Diversity Revolution

We then experienced the ‘diversity revolution’ a period I like to refer to as the “Kumbaya Stage.”  Celebrating difference became the favorite pastime of many members of organizations.  People like me were able to proclaim pride in our heritage, our difference – ourselves as were never able to do previously.  But after the diversity pot luck luncheons and diversity fairs, people would head back to their cubicles and remain exclusive.  The celebration of difference did not extend to most employees’ personal lives.  The human resources departments did not see any relief from their required reports or a great improvement in their statistics. These disappointments coupled with the negative response from employees who felt that they were not different enough to matter resulted in campaigns set out to prove that ‘our differences make us all the same.’  This approach played down race and gender and focused on less volatile differences such as job title, geographic origin (among U.S. born citizens), marital status, parental status, etc.  These non-threatening differences could be used benignly, to prove that an organization embraced diversity, without having to really embrace inclusion.

Diversity practitioners across the U.S. were then asked by their CEOs, “What’s the return on our investment for diversity?  This resulted in more panicked scrambling as folks set out to prove that creating a diverse organization improved the organization’s bottom line.  The problem with this model is that it does not work and that there was no such proof to be provided. 

The More Things Change

The more things change, the more they remained the same.  A major concern of U.S. employers is poor employee engagement.  There are millions of people who make it to work each day, even millions who arrive on time who are still quite disengaged.  These workers occupy all job titles and levels, including officers.  They are in every sector and industry.  They are from several different generations.  They are from all over the world.  They are straight and gay; male and female; of every race and ethnicity; and they cost employers trillions of dollars every day.  Employers spend an inordinate amount of money and energy to recruit top talent.  They especially spend on the recruitment of women and people of color.  Employers have, in general, become quite successful at recruitment, but remain unsuccessful at retention.  A phenomenon has developed in the last decade or so that is referred to as ‘the Revolving Door of Turnover.’ This has become a The 64 billion dollar question.

In January, 2007 The Level Playing Field Institute published The Corporate Leavers Survey: The Cost of Employee Turnover Due Solely to Unfairness in the Workplace. The study found that unfairness in the workplace costs U.S. corporations $64 billion dollars each year – not in law suits – but in turnover of professionals and managers.  People of color are three times as likely to be among those who leave as compared to white, heterosexual men and two times as compared to white, heterosexual women.

 Marketing Diversity

When the 2000 Census Report was published organizations became aware of a new customer base.  People of Color, Gay, Lesbian Transgender and Bisexual people, Women, people born in foreign countries were entering an unprecedented period of prosperity.  Smart corporations began marketing diversity.  We could turn on any television channel and see flawless models representing organizations that looked beautifully diverse!  Benetton led the movement way back in the 1980s with gorgeous young people wearing their trendy clothing.  Their motto “The United Colors of Benetton,” became a generational celebration of diversity.  Gradually, other organizations caught on and began targeting women and people of color who now had the buying dollars that they sought.  One problem remained; the beautiful ads were not of actual employees.  This was particularly glaring when looking at the leaders of organizations. According to a UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders (October 2007) women hold only 10.4% of the board seats and highest-paid executive officer positions in the top 400 corporations in California.  The national average is 15%.  Women remain more than 50% (50.9 in 2000) of the population.

The Inclusion Evolution

“As individuals we can accomplish only so much.  … Collectively, we face no such constraint. We possess incredible capacity to think differently.  These differences can provide the seeds of innovation, progress, and understanding.”

The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools and Societies, Scott E. Page

Scott Page’s book provides us with scientific proof of the brilliance of multiple perspectives.  This is something that I have intuitively known for a long time, but am really grateful for the backing of a mathematician!  I do not believe that ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ unless they are bad cooks or bad communicators.  There is always the possibility that there is an unethical cook in the kitchen who sneaks in extra salt without letting the others know, but if called upon to create the world’s best broth everyone wants to be invited!  By this, I mean that it would be an honor to be on the ‘A List’ of cooks for this project.  The cooks would all vie to bring their most creative, their most engaged selves to the process.  If they were told that their participation was predicated on their cooperation and in fact interdependence with the other cooks, they would pay attention to that fact and learn how to play well with others or be asked to leave.  In other words, every one of us wants to be asked to make a difference, to be told that our presence matters, that our contribution is needed.  What an amazing feeling it is to matter.  Yet, few employers ever asked their employees to contribute to their innovation.  Few employers ask their employees many questions at all for fear of invoking the evil God of EEO!  This fear of asking questions results in a phenomenon I call “One third of the tree.”  When I look out of the window and see a beautiful tree, let’s say a Willow tree and I decide that the Willow tree is exactly the addition that I need to make my organization truly diverse, I contact my top recruiter to go and get that tree.  I do research on the care and feeding of Willow trees.  I tell the other members of the organization that our team will be joined by a Willow tree and to be courteous and tolerant and never say offensive things such as “It’s not easy being green.”  Then the recruiter goes out and chops down that tree and hauls it inside.  We place it in a huge bucket and every day are diligent about adding nutrients and even throw in a few microorganisms to make the tree feel at home.  What we do not realize is that we are missing two-thirds of that tree.  We never thought to ask the tree to bring its history and cultural perspective to the organization and so it did not.  We did not realize how our organization could benefit by knowing the full being.  Another way to look at this is:  I bring my gender, generation, class, ethnic and racial perspectives with me when invited to the board room table to contribute.  These perspectives cannot be simulated by others who read about people like me.  They can only be contributed by me.  Isn’t that amazingly wonderful?

Organisms thrive because their parts are thriving.  When an organism has cancer we cut it out or the organism will die.  Yet, many organizations exist with dead and dangerous departments, units and individuals for years without taking any action.  The whole is only as healthy as its parts.  So, just as we need to get to know the whole individual in order to benefit fully by their contributions, we need to think about organizations as organisms that require inclusive care in order to thrive. 

Practical Steps

The first step to becoming truly inclusive requires practical steps beginning with the development of a strategic plan that holds everymember of the organization responsible for creating an inclusive environment.  This plan needs to be created with the input of the CEO or equivalent and leadership from all areas across the organization or else it will fail.  This plan also needs to support the organization’s mission and goals or it will fail.  As our world changes at an increasingly rapid pace, this plan needs to be flexible and adaptable or it will fail.  These are not very difficult requirements to meet if the planners remember to be inclusive in the process from the very beginning and remember that they are all interdependent for its success.

Step two requires a cultural assessment of the organization:  Who are you as an organization? Where have you come from? What has been initiated regarding diversity in the past and what has the response been? What education has been provided and how effective has it been.  Great tools to employ at this point are confidential surveys and interviews.  If people feel really safe they will tell you the truth about their experiences within an organization.  If they do not they will not.

Step three is to develop customized inclusion education for each level of the organization.  This education needs to employ adult education theory as no employee enters the training room as a tabula rasa.  Everyone brings a wealth of experiences, knowledge, ideas and again, perspective to the process.  This needs to be given a great deal of attention and respect.  The core of the education should focus on the following: “How do I benefit by being truly inclusive?”

Step four actually is step one through five – constant communication.  Tell them what you are going to do, tell them what you are doing and tell them what you have done. This is the only way to assure support for the process and again, without this it will fail.  Communication needs to be customized for employees, clients, board members, stock holders, the public and et al.

Step five is the establishment of support mechanisms for without them your inclusion strategy will fail.  In addition to regular, ongoing education and communication organizations need ‘Inclusion Ambassadors’ to champion the importance of inclusion.  These ambassadors may be members of an organization’s diversity councils or affinity groups and should receive special education on inclusion theory, communication, team building, project management and leadership.  The ‘Inclusion Ambassadors’ of an organization might sponsor event, write articles, provide training, develop outreach projects in the community and more.  They will become the face of inclusion of your organization and as such should be representative of many titles, locations, and functions as well as being culturally diverse.  Another great support mechanism is cross-cultural mentoring.  Cross-cultural mentoring may be part of a general mentoring program establish by the organization with specific mentoring on cultural topics or interests.  For example, I might be a mentor on Puerto Rican culture and have a mentor on time management.  Participants should receive training on mentoring and be clear on the expectations of the program. 

Results driven organizations whether in the public, non-profit or private sectors can benefit by creating True Inclusion© through an increase in retention of the best and brightest employees; the development of future leaders and viable succession plans that assure the continuation of an organizations’ success; an exponential increase in innovation and market share by involving every member of an organization in the creative process and hence an organization that thrives in spite of rapidly changing circumstances.  This process does not have to be difficult.  One of the barriers to organizations becoming inclusive is the myth that this is a difficult and arduous process.  Nothing can be easier than inviting people to be part of their own promotion and success!  It is this simple:  the inclusion of all members of an organization in that organization’s success results in an organization that thrives!

Wendy Amengual Wark                                                                      May 2008

 

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The Process, Part 1: Inclusive Recruitment Is NOT Affirmative Action!

Posted on January 9, 2014 by Leave a comment


As it is early in the year, I thought it would be interesting to start delineating some inclusion strategies in chronological order, in terms of an employer’s relationship with an employee. Recruitment marks the beginning of every relationship between employer and employee, think of the first accidental glance across a room exchanged with someone who later becomes a friend.  Employers are recruiting all of the time without being aware of it:  manufacturers are recruiting every time they advertise their products; non-profits are recruiting when they ask people to donate or volunteer for their cause, and governments are recruiting when they send their employees out to serve the public.  If people like what they see or hear or taste or use they may think about joining those who helped to create their positive experience. 
 
Word of Mouth
Many employers give their employees a financial reward if they refer someone who is hired by the company.  Employee referrals are highly valued, especially in the for-profit sector as the data is impressive in terms of employee retention rates for employee referral new hires. Governments have much lower turn-over rates than the private and non-profit sectors, but increasingly are modeling their management styles on the private sector, including paying bonuses to high performing employees and terminating those who do not meet the standards established for their function.  This means that government employers are also paying more attention to recruiting high-potential employees.  The greatest source of information about an organization is its employees. If they are unhappy, they let people outside of the organization know.  There is a great website, glassdoor (www.glassdoor.com), which posts anonymous employee ratings of employers. Savvy job hunters go there before applying for jobs.  People who have left companies telling their exit interviewer, “I have a better opportunity elsewhere,” tend to be more honest with their friends and on websites such as glassdoor.  Employers would be well advised to visit this and other sites to find out what people are saying about them, and more importantly, to use that information to improve their employee relations.
Diversity Attracts Diversity
We, in the diversity field used to worry that employee referrals limited the diversity of new hires, but not anymore.  Well, not if you already have some diversity.  “Diverse” employees (people of color, LGBT employees, people with disabilities, etal) will refer employees like themselves, just as white, male, heterosexual employees will do.  Sometimes, employees will refer candidates who are not from their affinity group, but people primarily refer candidates who are similar to themselves.  So, the more diverse your employees are, the more diverse their candidate referrals will be. This will also have a positive impact on your employee retention rates as the ‘diverse’ new hires will have an easier time adapting to an organizational culture that is diverse not only in its representation, but also in its innovation.  Employers that are intentionally inclusive get real bonuses as they get the attention of ‘high potential candidates’.
Inclusive Recruitment is NOT Affirmative Action!
Inclusive recruitment welcomes stellar employees – regardless of their affinity group affiliation.  Talented people come in all races, nationalities, ethnic groups, orientations and abilities.  So, if you want to hire ambitious, highly talented people, invite them intentionallyto contribute to your organization.  There has been a great deal of buzz (not to be confused with buzz words) regarding “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) and the lack of diversity among the actors on the show.  SNL’s management responded to a great deal of negative press regarding the stark absence of diversity at the season’s kick off by hiring Sasheer Zamata, an African-American woman.  This process took about three months and is the first time in six years that there will be an African American woman on the SNL cast, which is interesting considering that Lorne Michaels, the top executive on the show said in an October interview with The Associated Press, “It’s not like it’s not a priority for us, it [hiring black women], will happen. I’m sure it will happen.” The announcement this week that Ms. Zamata was joining the cast has been met with a flurry of comments on both sides of the diversity debate.  I have been thinking about how much pressure she will experience as those who are cynical of the process of creating an inclusive workforce think of her as an ‘affirmative action hire’.  If she is not incredibly entertaining and hilarious during every single skit that she is in, she will be vilified by those skeptics. The writers of the skits, the director, the other actors, will not be subject to the same scrutiny.  Ms. Zamata’s qualifications and expertise in her field will not be held up as evidence for hiring her.  She will have to rise above the haters and their words and remember – just like all of the other cast members at SNL – she has managed to beat the odds and get selected to be on show. Many employers talk about how creating a diverse workforce is a priority, but few take intentional, strategic action to make it happen.
The Good News
The good news is that any organization, regardless of their history in terms of recruitment can become an inclusive recruiting organization! A great first step is conducting an anonymous employee survey.  Many employers are reluctant to do this for two reasons: 1. They may not like what they hear (and this makes those in the legal department very nervous).  2. They may not feel ready to implement the changes that employees recommend. The executive team of your organization would be wise to honestly and openly discuss the possibility of improving your organizational inclusion by doing some real assessment of your current workforce. If you are satisfied with your employees’ performance and engagement and diversity and retention and development and succession – KUDOS!  If not, isn’t it about time that you do make it a priority?
Onward!
~ Wendy 
wendy@inclusionstrategy.com
 

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Wishing You a Year Filled with Diversity and Inclusion!

Posted on January 4, 2014 by Leave a comment


NYC July 4, 2012, C. Wark
In my last blog entry I asked, “What’s in a word?” I examined words used in hateful, specifically racist ways.  Now, as we begin a new year, our thoughts tend to focus on how we want this year to be an improvement over last year.  We wish each other good health, prosperity, happiness, and peace.  Being in the diversity and inclusion business, I wish people greater diversity and inclusion.  These two words do not come without their own baggage. The word diversity is rife with double entendres for those who resist inclusion and is sometimes misused as code for ‘workplace representation quotas’ or ‘political correctness.’ 
New York Botanical Garden
W. Wark, 2012
Diversity
Why am I wishing you a year filled with diversity?  Well, first, I would think that without diversity your year might be pretty boring.  In wishing you a diverse year, I am wishing you more diversity in terms of your experiences, thoughts, and relationships. This may seem incredibly simple and obvious; however, many people still cling to old, familiar ways out of habit and sometimes this means sustaining an ‘us and them’ culture. How many times, for example have you heard someone say something like, “If it were not for those people …?” People would likely find other things to cling to, in terms of their personal comfort and assigning blame if their engagement with diversity increased, but the more diverse people’s relationships are the more likely they are to accept different opinions, ideas and lifestyles. So I wish you an incredibly diverse year!
Inclusion
Why wish you inclusion?  Well, being inclusive requires an action on your behalf.  One cannot sit at home and expect inclusion to come to them.  It may in very, very small ways, such as the person delivering the Thai food who is from Guatemala.  But, we would not know where the person was from without asking them as they would not be likely to volunteer that information.  So, we need to be proactive if we are to be inclusive. There is so much that we can learn, enjoy, and gain by extending invitations. I hope that you are reaching out and inviting inclusion into your life!
History
Throughout these blog entries I have carried a thread, or a theme.  I am always wondering how to take this complicated and rather arduous subject of diversity and inclusion and break it down into digestible segments or bites, but more than sound bites, I am trying to nurture thoughts and discussion about sensitive and challenging subjects.  I believe that we can only move forward if we explore and respond to our past.  Reading history and checking a box or filing away the information without learning from it or applying what we have learned to the present is, in my humble opinion, worse than not learning at all.  What if a doctor studied biology, but forgot most of what they learned?  Would you want to be treated by that doctor?  No!  Similarly, we all live in a complex world with relationships made even more complicated by our history.  This is why I take an educational approach to diversity and inclusion and have provided you with historic context through this blog.
School of Athens, Raphael
Fresco (1509-1510)
Rhetoric
I want to discuss one other word – rhetoric.  Rhetoric or buzz words tend to dominate the sound bites about diversity and inclusion. When I think of the word rhetoric, I often think of the word bluster, which is really the opposite of the original meaning of rhetoric – which Aristotle taught us was the art of persuasion through the development of arguments based on logic. Bluster on the other hand, is loud, pushy, empty talk.  Those who use bluster to distract us from the main argument and point of discourse or rhetoric are often successful, at least in the short term.  Rhetoric has become commonly used to mean exaggeration, or hyperbole, using words that lack substantive meaning. I usually begin educational workshops by asking the participants to define diversity and inclusion.  The results are often fascinating. These two simple words – diversity and inclusion – represent a wide range of things to people, sometimes emotionally charged things. So, as I have stated for years, words matter. Words are actions – actions that have meaning for us. We need to develop a common vocabulary where the meaning of words is understood by all parties; then we can begin to have constructive conversations about difference.
Organizations need to do more than recruit diverse candidates, such as create inclusion strategies if they are to experience organizational change that is reflective of our society as a whole. Our society as a whole, whether locally, regionally, nationally or globally, needs to take assertive action if diversity is to become recognized as the precious commodity that it is.  The transition to an inclusive world begins with you and with me.  This may sound like rhetoric, but having witnessed and benefited by the words of individuals such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Sojourner Truth, I know that my argument is sound.
So, I wish you all things wonderful in this New Year, especially diversity and inclusion!
Onward!
~ Wendy
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