RECAP: Business Benefits of DEI

Diversity, equity and inclusion is about people and it’s for everyone. It is not about one race. It’s not just about one marginalized group of people. It is about living beyond ourselves to make our communities and workplaces better.

Is it hard? There are complex moments, but the rewards are worth it. Will it make someone uncomfortable? Yes, and that is how change occurs. Embrace the uncomfortable to learn about diverse perspectives and diverse thoughts that help us all grow together.

Christina Long, CEO of Create Campaign, kicked off the morning with an engaging keynote speech on how to start the conversation of DEI. It is completely ok to be where you are on your journey. Some attendees may be at step one while others are further through their journey. Christina shared her company’s “Principles of DEI Practice” and encouraged attendees to modify these to fit their own organization. A few of these principles include:

  1. Listen to understand rather than listening to respond
  2. Assume positive intent
  3. Lean into triggers

Several studies found a significant correlation between DEI and business performance. Diverse perspectives improve the quality of decision making and increase innovation and customer insight. All companies compete for the best talent and DEI helps win over this talent and increases employee satisfaction.

In conclusion, Christina offered her advice for activating DEI within each attendee’s own space. Set your intention and understand your clear role in DEI. Determine what time, attention and resources you’re willing to invest. This must be foundational and fundamental, not something added on and used when it’s convenient or you have extra time.

Mike Matson (Manhattan Chamber of Commerce) led a panel discussion with DEI experts from across the state including Christina, Dr. Olivia Law-DelRosso (Kansas State University), Willy Pegues (McCownGordon) and Kent Glasscock (K-State Innovation Partners). They each shared insight into the business benefits of DEI.

Dr. Law-DelRosso emphasized how DEI impacts recruitment and explained students in her organization ask about this at career fairs. Recruiters need to communicate their organization’s plans and initiatives to win the war on talent.

Willy Pegues shared what some may find to be the hardest part of starting the DEI conversation and explained at McCownGordon, leadership buy-in was key. You cannot just practice DEI when it is convenient, you must promote, embrace and embed it in your culture.

Kent Glassock offered that he has seen throughout his career when more voices are heard, it leads to better results. Talent becomes the bedrock for success and companies need to utilize 100% of the workforce.

And lastly, all panelists agreed  organizations must embed DEI into their culture. We cannot predict everything that might arise, but by prioritizing DEI, organizations ensure  a framework and avenue for equity and inclusion.