June 27, 2011

SHRM 11: Session Coverage Minus the Mini-Celebrity Cult Following

There is a lot of SHRM 2011 blog content to be found on the internet, this week and for weeks to come. Some will be great, some not so much. A lot will cover conference activities/events/impressions. Most will cover the popular sessions. What I plan to do is visit and blog about those sessions that don’t have a mini-celebrity cult following but are no less relevant.

Like the session I sat in this morning on Diversity and Inclusion. The session was presented by Jeanetta Darno, AVP Diversity and Inclusion with Nationwide Insurance (@Nationwide). Jeanetta spoke about Nationwide’s diversity and inclusion initiatives, what they’ve learned along the way, what they’ve added/modified/deleted and how they have tied their initiatives back to the overall organizational strategy, which for those of you that know me, know that I am all about typing departmental strategy back to organizational strategy. So that was a huge win for me.

Jeanetta gave us some insight into what diversity and inclusion mean for Nationwide. We are all familiar with the Nationwide jingle…”Nationwide is on your side!”, but back in the ‘70s their slogan was vastly different…The Man is on Your Side. Can you see and understand the need for Nationwide to have a focus on diversity and inclusion? Now, while Jeanetta did not initially integrate D&I into Nationwide, she has been pivotal on piloting its success. Here are some key points that she left for attendees:

Make the Diversity and Inclusion strategy transparent. HR needs to talk about what initiatives we are implementing and make sure the leaders and employees understand them. I mean, that just makes sense right? We can’t continue to create program and initiatives in a vacuum. HR has to ensure that we are bringing meaningful initiatives to the organization. How can we do that if we haven’t had upfront conversations about what is truly important?

Diversity and Inclusion should measure inside and outside impact. When implanting a D&I initiative companies need to conduct a SWOT analysis to determine what is happening on the external landscape as well as what is happening internal. Companies should conduct benchmarking and focus groups to gauge what is happening in the market, what other companies are doing and their successes and failures. Then, companies need to look internally to see where opportunities exist within the organization and what initiatives need to be implemented. Nationwide did this through an employee engagement study. They collected and analyzed the results and from this came their Areas of Focus – those key areas that were most important to their employees. It’s not enough to have a D&I strategy. The strategy must be important to those that matter…the leaders and employees. Therefore, it should be customized to the organization.

Link Diversity and Inclusion strategies to HR programs and policies and integrate Diversity and Inclusion initiatives into organizational strategies. D&I initiatives, once developed, need to weave through all organizational initiatives from recruiting and retention to training and strategic planning. Once the D&I initiatives have been determined, they should then be integrated into organizational strategy. In actuality, the integration should really take place prior to the linkage as linking to departmental initiatives may prove to be difficult if the organizational does not see the value and hasn’t integrated the initiative into their strategy. But, that’s why those up front conversations are so important, right? If you are having those discussions with your organizational leaders up front and being completely transparent, then the integration should have happened from the start.

Jeanetta provided a lot of insight into what we already know and should be doing. It was interesting hearing a case study on how one company tackled the diversity purple elephant and won.

Stay tuned for more lesser known session coverage!

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