In this episode of Connecting Business, host Christina Munoz discusses the importance of Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) with Blake Woolsey, Chief Communications and Development Officer at Heartland Forward, and Michael McCathern, Executive Director at the John Maxwell Team.
Supporting DE&I efforts improve the bottom line and create a better work culture for all employees. Leaders who invest in DE&I see positive ROI through a more productive workforce and better employee retention. Inclusivity allows people with different backgrounds to have a voice, creating a culture where everyone feels valued. Businesses benefit from understanding that the cost of not supporting a culture of DE&I is much greater than the cost of doing it.
Munoz: I wanna really focus on these three words because they can kind of become these buzz words, if you will, diversity, equity and inclusion. First help us define them and then really help us know the difference between these three words.
McCathern: Absolutely, first, I wanna just talk about when a lot of people say, you know, diverse and inclusion, the first thing they think about is race relations, right? And there's so much more than that. You know, DE&I, you talk diversity, equity, inclusion.
Let's start with diversity. This is just about making people be unique in their own different ways, right? Different backgrounds, different personalities, different experiences, different beliefs, now that's diversity. And when we talk about, you know, equity, you know, it's giving people what they need to succeed, right? Equity is promoting justice, impartiality, it's just fairness. And not just equity inclusion.
You know, I like to look at inclusion like this, you know, take, take it from a, from going to a dance, right? Being invited to a dance, it is great. But if you're not invited to a dance you're not really included. So I like to look at it that way when I talk about diversity and inclusion.
Woolsey: So to your point, Michael I do agree with you that everybody thinks about it as race related, but you know, I think about diversity and I think about when you get married, some of the greatest issues that you have is family origin. You know, it's like, well, we did it this way and you did it that way. I mean, so you begin to look at what's happening in a household and you're thinking about diverse point of view, right?
Munoz: Yeah, bringing to all together.
Woolsey: Equity, and I think I have a child who has special needs and my child needs to be taught a special way. So it's not the same size fits all. And then inclusion, I think is my favorite. And I had a hard time in choosing a college when I was much younger because I didn't wanna be part of a Greek system because I didn't want somebody to tell me that I was good enough to belong or not good enough to belong.
And I think that's feeling of, I wanna feel like I'm accepted and that not only are you gonna invite me to the dance, but you may ask me to dance. And as Michael knows, I'm gonna stand up and I'm gonna dance, and I may sing the song. I may sing the song too, just hand me the mic.
Munoz: How do we deal with retention when it comes to DE&I, how do we keep them?
McCathern: It's just making them feel included because you can have an amazing employee working for an amazing organization but if they don't feel included, you can have diverse, but they don't feel included or if they don't feel heard, they're not gonna stay. They're gonna go somewhere else or another organization that allows them to have a voice because you think about diversity across the board, we're all different.
We all have disabilities. We all, there's something different about everybody, no matter your race, color, gender, disability elements, everybody wants to be heard and seen. And if you have an employee at any level, if they're heard and seen, they will stick and stay.
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After the show, we kept talking for a bit. Here are some of the highlights from that conversation:
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Additionally, Amber Booth-McCoy, a highly regarded thought leader on diversity, equity and inclusion, shares her own story as a woman, wife, and mother at a TEDx event.