Edu-Tate: A Positive and Impactful Experience

In college, I first heard the term “edu-tate” in a talk by Dr. Samuel Betances. Today, the concept of “edu-tate” remains at the heart of many DEIB efforts.

 

The phrase combines two powerful actions: “educate” and “agitate,” the simultaneous act of educating and agitating just enough to produce the desired positive change in behaviors, beliefs, and ongoing actions. As ambassadors for change and culture DEI&B leaders are often faced with “edutational” challenges as they work to enlighten executives, employees, and other key stakeholders on the tangible and intangible benefits of DEI&B.

 

The conversation about DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) is also evolving. “Belonging” has joined these as critical concepts for organizations looking to make their workplace a welcoming, safe, and positive space for everyone to thrive. We’ve slowly moved away from the idea of just trying to aim for “equal” treatment to more nuanced concepts that acknowledge the required evolution of organizational cultures, values, and policies to incorporate and leverage the richness of the diversity they possess in their employees. Including the mission critical nature of building a sense of community (belonging) for all!

 

Fortunately, progress is being made. In a 2020 McKinsey study, 1/3 of the companies analyzed achieved significant gains in top-team diversity over a 5-year period and 52% overall positive employee sentiments about their organization’s diversity efforts. Forty-five % of new board seats in 2019 at Russell 3000 companies were filled by women, compared with just 12% in 2008. At the same companies’ boards, ethnic diversity was also up from 8% to 15%.

 

Consider the metaphor of a party to understand the difference between these concepts:

  • Equalityis making sure everyone gets an invitation with the same info.
  • Diversityis about ensuring that “everyone” includes representations of differences and diverse groups.
  • Equityis making sure that everyone has a way to get to the party safely, regardless of how close or far they live from the party location.
  • Inclusionis getting people involved in planning the party and making sure everyone gets to dance and participate.
  • Belongingis feeling comfortable enough to make suggestions in the party planning and to enjoy yourself without feeling limited.

 

We’ve slowly moved away from the idea of just trying to aim for “equal” treatment to more nuanced concepts that acknowledge difference and work with it rather than brushing it off. Corporate policies need to evolve as well.

 

Fortunately, progress is being made. In a 2020 McKinsey study, 1/3 of the companies analyzed achieved significant gains in top-team diversity over a 5-year period and 52% overall positive employee sentiments about their organization’s diversity efforts. Forty-five % of new board seats in 2019 at Russell 3000 companies were filled by women, compared with just 12% in 2008. At the same companies’ boards, ethnic diversity was also up from 8% to 15%.

 

In the pharmaceutical industry, women in executive-level roles at Johnson & Johnson increased from 18% to 27% from 2019 to 2020. Pfizer has set a goal of having 47% female V.P.s by 2025. Novartis A.G ranks in the Top 10 most diverse and inclusive companies across all industries/sectors.

 

But there is still work to be done.

 

Despite $8 billion a year in DEI Training spending, nearly half of working adults feel disconnected and perceive where they work negatively. Simply put, a diverse workforce does not guarantee an inclusive workplace. For instance, 30% of Black workers say they feel undervalued and disrespected47% of Black and Hispanic workers report feeling detached from the rest of their team in high-stress situations. They are present in the workplace but don’t feel like they belong.

 

“I think companies are latching on to belonging because they understand that it’s really good for business, it’s great for retention, and it’s great for innovation,” said Sharawn Tipton Connors, Live Ramp Chief People & Culture Officer. “Employees want to wake up Monday morning and feel this is an organization that I want to come to. I feel I have a voice here. I feel welcomed. I can share my ideas and thoughts, and I can have radical candor. You do not get the benefit of diversity unless you are creating an inclusive environment and a sense of belonging.”

 

Creating a sense of belonging isn’t about fancy declarations and eye-catching campaigns. It’s about the day-to-day work that happens out of the spotlight, not just when there’s something immediate to respond to. Belonging isn’t a trend – it’s a need!

 

Belonging is an outcome that results from the combination of several steps, such as:

  • Inclusive leadership: Ensure team members speak up and are heard; make it safe to propose new ideas; empower teams to make decisions; take advice and implement feedback; give actionable feedback; share credit for team success.
  • Authenticity: Build a workplace where everyone can feel welcomed and safe to be their true, authentic selves.
  • Internal networks and visibility: Support access, allowing for sponsorship opportunities. These opportunities can also invigorate ambition, drive engagement, and directly correlate to employee satisfaction and retention.
  • Clear career paths:Clearly communicate what opportunities and advancement are possible. Achieving this clarity may require innovation and thought, but it will significantly impact retention, especially among women.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has also shifted priorities – some related to DEIB and others not. The workforce cuts and stresses of the pandemic disproportionately affected lower-income workers, Black and Latino communities, and other minorities. Most occupations with significant job losses have been dominated by women. And that doesn’t even touch on the racist and xenophobic reactions to the pandemic itself.

 

Both before and after the pandemic, a company’s reputation makes a significant difference when it comes to attracting top talent. According to one collection of research from SHRM:

  • 55% of job seekers who read a negative review of a company decided not to apply there (Talentnow)
  • A negative reputation costs companies at least 10% more per hire (LinkedIn)
  • 92% of people would consider changing jobs if it meant going to a company with an excellent reputation (Corporate Responsibility Magazine)
  • Companies rated as “great employers” can result in up to a 28% reduction in an organization’s turnover (LinkedIn)
  • Great employers get up to 50% more qualified applicants (LinkedIn)

 

Today’s talent market remains highly candidate-centric one for top performers. Candidates are doing their due diligence when considering applying, interviewing, or accepting an offer from a company. Looking at everything from websites to public filings, to social media, and all other information that is just a “click” away.

 

Standing out requires an intentionality and commitment to building an inclusive organization where everyone can thrive and have a sense of belonging!

 

By Ruben Moreno

 

About the Author

After a 25-year career in Corporate Human Resources and HR Executive Search, Ruben Moreno and his two partners co-founded Blue Rock Search based on a simple but ambitious vision of creating a firm that would “Change Lives and Organizations One Relationship at a Time.”  Ruben leads the Blue Rock HR and Diversity Executive Search practice specializing in the identification, assessment, recruitment, and onboarding of Chief HR Officers and Chief Diversity Officers and their respective teams — inclusive of leaders in Talent Acquisition, Total Rewards, HRBP’s, Learning & OD, HR Technology, HR Operations, and HR Analytics. Ruben has helped place hundreds of HR Executives and built deep relationships within the CHRO community across multiple industry verticals. His clients consider him a trusted partner who takes the time to understand their business and add value beyond executive search.

 

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