Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Vail Valley Partnership’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives allow businesses to explore a variety of topics in this space and learn how to implement their own inclusive practices within their organization. This programming aims to reach businesses at different stages of their DEI journey.

We believe a focus on equity and inclusion builds stronger organizations & communities. Equity removes the barriers, but equity and inclusion are where we start to see change when the barriers are removed, and people are being invited and included at the table.

Thank you for being committed to this important work! You can view upcoming webinars and courses here.

Community Consciousness Series

The Community Consciousness Series is an Eagle County panel series around Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, featuring primarily local leaders. Each revolves around a different topic such as (public health, our school district, wellness, leadership development, etc.) and will allow for the panel members to tell their personal stories of how they have been affected by inequity, data and observations they have found in their professional work regarding how our community is affected by inequity and what we can do as a community to improve.

The Community Consciousness Series is hosted by High Country Human Resource Association and Vail Valley Partnership.

What DEI Work Can Bring to Your Organization

Discussion around diversity, equity, and inclusion are all critical focus areas for communities and businesses looking to succeed and thrive in the modern environment. Leaders in the space of DEI continue to say this, but it begs repeating… to create meaningful change, you need to put in the hard work. Like anything in life, implementing a DEI strategy and equitable practices for your business takes time, energy and dedication. We encourage you to do this work, not to check a box, but instead to enhance your business and the community as a whole.

DEI and the Triple Bottom Line Perspective

Not that long ago businesses only cared about making a profit, and many still do, but more and more businesses are embracing the idea that they should prioritize their employees as well. Not only does this help with retention, but it makes your business more appealing to customers who care about Corporate Social Responsibility. In other words, customers care how you treat all of your stakeholders.

The triple bottom line perspective, a concept of Corporate Social Responsibility, redefines business success as being more than just making a profit. This mindset looks for high performance across people, profit and planet.

  • People – treat people fairly and with respect and contribute to your local community
  • Profit – be profitable for owners and investors
  • Planet – minimize, if not improve, environmental impacts of business operations

Putting energy into all three “buckets” continues to benefit businesses across the nation. Let’s look specifically at the people bucket as it relates to DEI. Are you going above and beyond federal and state mandates for non-discriminatory labor practices? Do you offer equal pay to employees regardless of their gender orientation? Are you recruiting and promoting people equitably or are you doing it to check a box (i.e. our business wants to look diverse so we are simply going to hire someone because of their race)? Many DEI strategies that do something to check a box aren’t going to create the meaningful change you are looking for – and your customers may see it as inauthentic. A number of customers are even willing to pay a premium for a product so long as you are being authentic in your efforts to treat your people well.

Your Organization’s Culture May Need to Change to Truly Accept Diversity 

Over the year, many of us have heard different arguments for why we should add diversity to our organization. There is the economic argument (it’ll make us more profit), the innovation argument (it’ll help us be more creative) and the efficacy argument (it’ll allow us to become more efficient and effective). The list goes on. And while some of these can be true, the issue is that leaders need to put in the work to create a good organizational culture in order to harness diversity.

The article from Harvard Business Review “Getting Serious About Diversity: Enough Already with the Business Case” said it best:

“Increasing diversity does not, by itself, increase effectiveness; what matters is how an organization harnesses diversity, and whether it’s willing to reshape its power structure.”

Embracing diversity in the workplace can be difficult, especially if your organization’s leadership isn’t on board. Here are 4 ways to help create organizational change that will foster diversity acceptance.

  1. Build trust – we’ll talk about this in the section below, but work to create a workplace that allows people to show up as they truly are
  2. Educate yourself and your team so you can actively work against discrimination and subordination – it is important for your team to learn about systems of privilege and oppression so that everyone is working from the same foundation. Additionally, understanding your own unconscious biases (or blind spots) and how they influence your actions will play a crucial role in moving your organization forward in this work.
  3. Embrace a wide range of styles and voices – does your current organizational norms keep certain behaviors and topics silenced? Is someone called assertive and another called pushy for doing the same thing? Words matter. In this step think about how your organization treats people of different genders, races, ethnicities, etc. in certain situations.
  4. Make cultural differences a resource for learning – hopefully through building trust in step 1, working against discrimination and subordination in step 2, and empowering everyone in step 3, your employees now feel they can share personal experiences with each other, and leadership, to create safe learning environments. We all have different lived experiences so let employees share their experiences and let those be an opportunity for learning.

Inclusivity Creates a Competitive Advantage

What exactly is inclusion from a business standpoint? Inclusion refers to creating a work environment where all people are truly welcomed, valued, and respected — for all of who they are — regardless of differences. Inclusion isn’t the same as tolerance. It’s not about putting up with people who are different from you, but rather is about full acceptance. In an inclusive environment, people won’t feel that they need to hide part of their true selves to truly belong.

When your employees feel a true sense of belonging, and they’re able to bring their whole selves to work, they’re more likely to bring more to the work they’re producing and feel more fulfilled in the process — which benefits everyone involved. Embracing inclusion is a competitive advantage. Inclusion in the workplace is extremely important for any organization looking to build a strong sense of connection and belonging and an engaging culture. To thrive, companies need to unlock the power and potential of their employee’s talent, including women, people of different races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic statuses, and those with different physical and cognitive abilities.

Organizations that get it right are at a huge advantage. Research shows that diverse and inclusive organizations, when compared to their peers, are:

  • 87% more likely to make better decisions, according to Korn Ferry Research
  • 75% faster at bringing products to market, according to the Center for Talent Innovation

Worldwide consulting leader Deloitte has helped shed a spotlight on the importance of diversity and inclusion. Their research has shown that:

“A growing body of research indicates that diverse and inclusive teams outperform their peers. Companies with inclusive talent practices in hiring, promotion, development, leadership, and team management generate up to 30 percent higher revenue per employee and greater profitability than their competitors. Without a strong culture of inclusion and flexibility, the team-centric model comprising diverse individuals may not perform well.”

Inclusion in the workplace is now a vital component of business success. Diversity and inclusion now impact brand, corporate purpose, and performance. Not only is the public increasingly aware of the issue (witness the scrutiny of gender and racial diversity in the technology industry), 1. but employees are also expressing stronger views on diversity and inclusion. Millennials, for example, see inclusion as a mandatory part of corporate culture, defining how the company listens to them at work. 2. Shareholders, customers, and suppliers are all taking a closer look at this issue.

It is not just consultants who espouse the value of inclusivity in business. Leading businesses such as Proctor & Gamble also recognize the importance. Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer with Procter & Gamble in a Forbes interview, said:

“I think that the 5 billion people in the world who we serve are looking around and saying, ‘We need to make sure that we leave this world in a better place,’ and that has to come from the everyday household and personal care products that we use as well. So, we made a very deliberate decision to build things like sustainability and equality and inclusion into the business to make it part of how brands grow and part of the business model.”

To survive and thrive in the future, your organization need to do more than simply diversify your talent pools. You also need to design inclusive workplaces that meet the needs of all your employees and enable everyone in your organization to achieve their full potential.