PODCAST: What creating a successful D+I program looks like

Written on Jan 30, 2020

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager

While many companies start with good intentions when planning a diversity and inclusion strategy, they might falter when considering their goal and what would make their efforts successful.

Karim_Ali“It's a very big idea and it sounds wonderful, but when you’re starting from ground zero it's difficult to become a diverse and inclusive organization overnight,” said Karim Ali, a partner at Porter Wright law firm in Columbus.

It’s important to consider what D+I means for your organization, Ali said on the latest episode of the State of Business podcast, because a small business’s interpretation and execution of D+I is likely different from that of a fortune 100 company.

Ali serves as Partner in Charge of Professional Personnel and Partner in Charge of Diversity and Inclusion. He’s been involved in diversity and inclusion efforts in the community for more than 15 years and has seen the evolution for companies realizing D+I is a business imperative.

“There's a lot of data out in the marketplace about this concept of a diversity bonus,” he said. “That's where the degree of diversity helps provide bonuses or helps to provide an economic lift to those companies that are diverse and inclusive.”

While figuring out objectives and what your company would like to achieve with its program, you also need to consider who will champion this project. Ali said although management buy-in is the first step, what’s sometimes overlooked is buy-in from the rest of the company.

And while not everyone might be on board in the beginning, focus your efforts on getting the majority of your colleagues’ support. For those who aren’t interested, continue to engage them in conversation about their concerns.

“You have to be okay with starting with less than perfect,” he said. “Because if your goal is to be perfect on day one, as soon as you don't achieve perfect, you failed.”

And remember, an intentional, well thought out D+I program not only sends a message to current employees but also prospective ones.

“One of the several areas that are important to people looking for career opportunities are how diverse and inclusive the environment is,” Ali said. “And that helps speak toward people's ability to be welcomed into a culture, people's willingness to go to a new place and be accepted.”

Listen to the podcast here.

For more information on how to advance your D+I efforts, register now for OSCPA’s Crossing Bridges Summit: Advancing Diversity + Inclusion!

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