From DIVERSEability Magazine: Developing a Winning DE&I Strategy

May 6, 2022
Josef Scarantino
April 18, 2022

First published in the Spring 2022 issue of DIVERSEability Magazine.

Today, business owners and talent managers have unprecedented access to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) resources like never before. The economic imperative to focus on diversity in talent attraction and employee retention has never been more apparent. Businesses with diverse leadership outperform businesses with more homogenous leadership. As more and more companies implement their own DEI initiatives, busy managers often don’t know the true effectiveness and impact of their efforts on their employees and teams, including neurodiverse employees and those with disabilities who often feel invisible.

Unsurprisingly, in the ultra-tight job market, employees are taking long-delayed career leaps en masse in what has now been coined the “Great Resignation” due to unfulfilling work environments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Job candidates are arming themselves
with strategically networked referrals and open-sourced data about prospective employers’ DEI initiatives to form the basis on a decision to apply. Recent surveys show that job candidates give more consideration to company culture than any other factor when choosing their next
employment opportunity.

These converging trends of access to resources for employers, employees and prospective job candidates bring us to ask some important questions: Does your DEI strategy craft a truly inclusive narrative about your culture and values, or is your DEI strategy merely “signaling”
without honest intention? Does your company have a proactive DEI strategy, or is your approach to DEI simply reactive when situations arise?

Luckily, there is a “canary in the coal mine,” working to ensure businesses can identify potential DEI issues early and plan and build strategies accordingly, instead of reactively. The company is Dallas-based Kanarys, focused on providing the tools organizations need to create long-term systemic change around DEI.

Kanarys co-founders, Bennie King, Mandy Price and Star Carter grew up in the Dallas area. They attended the University of Texas, where they became friends, yet 20 years later, the three would come to call each other co-founders after experiencing inequity in the corporate
workplace. Guided by data, Kanarys is on a mission to help companies identify opportunities to avoid common mistakes when implementing and measuring DEI initiatives.

While most businesses approach diversity through quarterly training or specially organized committees, many initiatives often lack measurement around how inclusion and equity are being addressed and truly impact the business model. Kanarys takes an innovative data-informed approach by bringing together cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) to better understand the effectiveness of DEI based on employee sentiment.

The data-informed approach of Kanarys is particularly crucial because of its ability to give a voice to neurodiverse employees and those with disabilities who often feel left out of DEI initiatives. The reality of current DEI isn’t that our definitions have changed, but that our understanding of the complexity with which people desire to bring themselves to their work is evolving to be more empathetic to the human condition. Employees are tired of the increasingly blurred lines between work and life, and customers are craving authenticity from the businesses they patronize.

Once again, the golden opportunity is that businesses can now retain employees longer, build a healthier culture, develop more innovative products and solutions and serve their customers more empathetically. When we help employers take care of their greatest asset, their employees, the community reaps the benefit, and the customer always wins.

As both a neurodiverse professional and an employee of HubSpot, I’m proud that diversity, inclusion, and belonging (DI&B) are not just nice to have but are critical to our mission of helping millions of organizations grow better. We don’t always get things right, but we’ll always
be working for our customer’s success, which is about building an inclusive culture and product that reflects our broader community.

It is my hope that the company you build reflects the diversity of your customers, partners and ultimately, your employees. Let’s do this together.

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