On Aug. 21, NJBIZ hosted its latest panel event – a robust discussion on the subject of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace.
The virtual panel was hosted by NJBIZ Chief Editor Jeff Kanige and featured Joe Forte, deputy chief of staff and chief diversity officer, New Jersey Department of State; Yeurys Pujol, vice president for diversity, equity, inclusion, Hudson County Community College; and Avonia Richardson-Miller, senior vice president and chief diversity officer, Hackensack Meridian Health.
“You all work in this area and you’ve all been successful at it,” Kanige said at the open. “So, I just want to hear a little bit from your own experience to share with our viewers who are interested in getting started or improving their own efforts. What do you think are the most important elements?”
“Regardless of the size of your organization, first and foremost, is that if you want to have a robust DEI initiative, you’re going to need to have the support of leadership to drive that and to be a champion of that,” said Richardson-Miller. “Then I’d say, from that point, there’s a business case. What is that business case? And it should be aligned with the overall strategic goals of what your organization has already defined. Once you have that, then you can begin to map out what are going to be your strategic initiatives – after you do some sort of assessment.”
“I became the chief diversity officer about eight months ago. And one of the things that we launched was our first-ever diversity survey,” said Forte. “And, even though, we’re kind of unpacking and looking at what we’ve learned, the most common feedback we got was folks want to feel included. So having that department programming – whether that’s employee appreciation picnics or lunch-learn series – that’s really important as well.”
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“It’s important to have leadership support but it’s also as equally important to make sure that everyone in the community knows or feels that they’re part of the effort moving forward,” said Pujol, pointing to a survey done at Hudson County Community College. “Here at Hudson, we provided multiple data forums in which people were able to come in, discuss. They were able to prioritize the items. And, ultimately, we created an action plan that reflected everyone.”
From there, the discussion moved through a number of important issues and topics within DEI, such as the role of leadership in creating an inclusive culture; setting goals; messaging and maintenance; the business case; dealing with obstacles; measuring progress; and much more.
The Aug. 28 NJBIZ issue will feature further coverage of the discussion.