5 Key Takeaways from Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leaders


Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a higher calling. Those who pursue DEI want to level the playing field and ensure equitable opportunities and pay are available to everyone. Most importantly, they want to create a happier and healthier workplace, so everyone can reach his or her greatest potential. 

At the recent HR Exchange Network DEI online event, leaders from Checkr, Siemens USA, Invitae, Microsoft, Air Products, and the world of employment law shared best practices, firsthand stories, and case studies to promote stronger, kinder, and happier teams that promote a sense of belonging and camraderie.  

WATCH: DEI: Create a Culture of Belonging Online Event

Background Checks Can Be Part of DEI

Many might be doubtful about integrating background checks into DEI strategy, but Chris Johnson, Director of Industry Strategy at Checkr, and Ryan Wilkins, Strategic Solutions Engineer at Checkr, made the case that employers can leverage technology to execute a fair background check, one that is more forgiving of people having made mistakes. 

There was a time when employers conducting background checks would reject anyone with any criminal record. Johnson and Wilkins showed the audience how to take into consideration the particulars of a job candidate’s criminal record. They demonstrated how employers can give people a second chance and therefore expand their potential hires. Watch this video to get granular advice on how to achieve these kinds of results. 

WATCH: How Background Checks Can Help You Meet DEI Goals

Belonging Transforms

Nichelle Grant, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Siemens USA, kicked off the DEI event in a fireside chat aimed at explaining the importance of inclusion and belonging to an organization’s success. The takeaway is that workers who feel as though they fit in and have a stake in an organization are more likely to engage and stick around. What might surprise viewers is the fact that Grant discussed how this kind of atmosphere motivates people and can bring out their best. 

Watch this session to learn more about how to help people “get comfortable with the uncomfortable.” Learn about how to set the tone for people to include others in their teams and create a welcoming workplace for everyone. Recognize how this fits into other HR priorities, including worker wellbeing. 

WATCH: DEI and How Belonging Transforms

The American Way Is Not the Only Way

Ki Thompson, Head of Executive D&I Engagement at Microsoft, and William Gadison, Global Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Manager at Air Products, shared their experience of working together in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

There were many highlights in their session, including Thompson opening up about nearly getting fired, in part, because he had approached the job as an American without considering cultural norms of the region where he was working. Gadison described how his co-worker who visited his parents regularly – even when it was not a holiday or special occasion – inspired him to spend more time with his own father. 

The frank discussion demonstrated how cultural exchanges can enrich the workplace but can also influence individuals both personally and professionally. Check out the session video to learn why Thompson said he realized, “Being American is like winning the lottery.”  

WATCH: Going Global: How to Break Out of the U.S.-Centric Mindset

Make DEI a Team Effort

Rayshawnda Madison, Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Invitae, shared her passion for DEI by first explaining how she ended up in her role. Frankly, she carved the DEI space at Invitae and united the organization around the effort. She empowered her co-workers by helping them organize into Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). 

These are not hobby or club groups. These are people who are either part of or allies to underrepresented and marginalized groups, and they must help the organization make meaningful change. Watch this session to learn how to organize and elevate these groups in a way that will make DEI integral to the workplace culture and help the organization have reach beyond its walls. Examples of ERGs influencing the patient experience are a highlight. 

WATCH: Elevating Employee Resource Groups to Impact DEI Goals

Ask Employees What They Need

Employment Attorney Kate Bischoff joined the DEI event to discuss a number of relevant topics, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, discrimination, and harassment at work. A number of audience members had questions about accessibility and the obligations of the employer.

An interesting discussion emerged about the predicament of employers who suspect an employee has an invisible disability, which is often the case for the neurodiverse, but have not been informed about it. Bischoff had an interesting take. 

“Ask employees for what they need,” she said. Rather than asking about a particular diagnosis, managers should simply ask a struggling employee what they can do to make their job easier and help them be successful. Watch this session for more information on this matter and to learn Bischoff’s advice for HR leaders interested in helping women gain access to legal and safe abortions in a post-Roe v. Wade America

WATCH: DEI: Through the Lens of the Law

Find all the sessions from the DEI event and any other relevant content on HR Exchange Network’s website. Join us for future events, including Corporate Learning in September, which is free to join. 

Photo by ANTONI SHKRABA production for Pexels

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