IPSC’s Diversity, Respect and Inclusion Council to drive D&I commitment.
For organizations to remain competitive, retain talent and foster growth, it’s essential to make diversity and inclusion a part of the very fabric of the organization. As a result of the global pandemic and shift to remote working, organizations have had to change the dynamics of how business is conducted, think outside the box and remove barriers that once existed in recruiting diverse candidates. COVID has opened the door for flexibility in the way we work and operate, by eliminating location barriers and allowing organizations to recruit candidates from a larger, more diverse pool. However, its crucial for D&I to be integrated into more than just the recruitment and hiring process.
To help build a successful long-lasting organization, D&I should be at the forefront of the decision-making process. Diversity provides unique experiences, perspectives and viewpoints that deliver the best possible service and operational excellence to clients, while inclusivity creates an environment that will empower each employee to have a voice. Two heads are better than one, but having two diverse heads (whether by age, gender, race, socioeconomic, religion, etc.) will provide even more fruitful solutions and ideas that solve the same problem.
As part of its new D&I initiative, IHI Power Services Corp. (IPSC), a leading owner and operator of power plants across the United States, created a council to further drive its commitment to infuse D&I in everything the company does—top to bottom. Using industry best practices, IPSC’s Diversity, Respect and Inclusion (DR&I) Council focuses on ensuring equal access to opportunities for professional growth and advancement by continuing to foster a sustainable culture that not only recognizes skill sets, but also values unique qualities and cultural experiences. The council creates strategic partnerships with a variety of organizations to engage and promote a more diverse pool of candidates.
IPSC’s DR&I Council currently has a chair and cochairperson who report directly to the company’s president and CEO, Steve Gross. A member of the senior management team (voted on by the council) is appointed as the council’s sponsor, to provide guidance and serve as an intermediary between the co-chair(s) and senior leadership team. Council members are selected by the chairpersons from among employees who have expressed interest in participation and have successfully navigated the selection process. The committee membership reflects a diverse mix of employees, taking into consideration such factors as gender identity, race, ethnicity, age, geographical location, disability, veteran status and more.
The Council is responsible for a number of initiatives:
■ Opportunities for employees to have meaningful engagement with leadership to provide feedback and promote cultural inclusivity.
■ Recommendations for the development or modification of policies and practices that impact diversity, respect, inclusivity and equality efforts.
■ Learning opportunities in which employees may voluntarily participate and engage to deepen and develop personal understanding of diversity, respect, inclusion and equity at an organizational level. Drive community and external partnerships to promote respect and inclusion.
To implement D&I within an organization, defining the company’s position and values related to D&I is a must. From there, the change starts with the recruiting process. Initiatives that attract a diverse pool of candidates and applicants, along with onboarding programs that promote inclusivity from day one, are imperative to making a change. More importantly, adding continuous training and awareness programs to educate employees of unconscious bias and stereotypes are crucial to ensure a welcoming culture.
As part of a more advanced D&I program, form a D&I council, like IPSC, complete with ambassadors, to drive the mission of the organization, provide a voice for employees and support community initiatives. The council can help create in-house D&I initiatives to highlight and raise awareness of different cultures and experiences. Moreover, it can establish leadership strategies that promote diversity from top to bottom within the organization.
To ensure the longevity and continued introduction of new D&I initiatives, accountability and measurable goals are needed, along with buy-in from the entire organization. It’s exciting to see organizations driving D&I programs to the forefront, understanding that inclusion makes us stronger and diversity makes us better. Together, D&I moves us forward in building a solid foundation for the success of a company.