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Why Partnering with DEI Consultants Can Drive Meaningful Change in Your Organization

Regardless of size, many organizations struggle to implement effective diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. This challenge can be incredibly daunting for smaller organizations that may not have a dedicated HR department or the necessary expertise in this area. Working with DEI consultants can help these organizations overcome these obstacles.

DEI consultants have specialized knowledge and experience in a wide range of areas, particularly in talent acquisition, training and development, policy creation, and culture change. By leveraging their expertise, organizations get guidance in creating and implementing DEI initiatives that will help them reach their goals.

However, organizations need not be DEI experts to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Rather than trying to navigate this complex and ever-evolving field independently, organizations can serve as a conduit for DEI expertise to enter their workplace by utilizing consultants.

On this episode of The New Mainstreet podcast, Ali Sheehan Mignone, Head of People, Diversity, and Inclusion at Theatre Projects, discuss how outsourcing DEI can help small teams improve their workplace culture and diversity initiatives.

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Breaking Down Barriers: Creating Inclusive Workplaces Through Behavioral Change

Companies prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion often experience higher rates of productivity and increased profits. That diversity goes beyond racial and ethnic differences, however. Diversity of thought is equally important, which drives innovation and creative problem-solving.

From a talent management perspective, fostering an inclusive workplace is essential to attracting and retaining talent and developing talent, particularly for marginalized and underrepresented groups. The process begins with acknowledging that these groups require programs specifically designed to build equity within an organization. While people generally have a shared humanity, understanding that systemic “isms” have moved the finish line for marginalized communities is essential to advancing equity.

DE&I initiatives existed before 2020, but post-George Floyd, many organizations have stepped up their commitments, partly because it's the right thing to do but also in fear of public backlash. An increasing percentage of consumers want to shop with brands that prioritize DE&I. Similarly, a growing number of consumers are willing to stop frequenting a store that does not publicly and consistently support diversity and inclusion. It is not just consumers unwilling to support a brand that does not meet DE&I expectations. Prospective and current employees within an organization are hyper-aware of this, and they use it to decide whether to take a job or not or stay or leave their current jobs.

Ultimately, an organization's culture is not inclusive if people are invited into a space unwilling to change. People need a sense of belonging to feel included and authentically accepted for who they are. But creating that environment in an organization is challenging because it is not easy to change hearts and minds. People have deeply ingrained values and beliefs, which make behavioral change difficult.

In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Tanya Diaz-Goldsmith, Director of Talent Development & Diversity for Related Companies, shares how DE&I programs focusing on behavioral changes can foster inclusive workplace environments and increase employee retention.

Meet Tanya:

Tanya Diaz-Goldsmith is the Director of Talent Development & Diversity for Related Companies. She leads Related’s diversity efforts, working to embed best in class diversity and inclusion practices into all facets of the business in order support the company’s commitment to advancing equity. Since joining Related, Tanya has developed robust strategies to promote diversity that prioritize a holistic, people centric approach and makes use of her decades of experience in real estate and nonprofit. She continues to leverage her background to build an organizational culture that inspires and supports ideation, innovation and inclusion. An enthusiastic and passionate advocate for DE&I, Tanya is known for her commitment to increasing diversity within the real estate industry.

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Can Impact Investing Level the Playing Field for Diverse Founders?

Impact investing has emerged as a powerful tool for directing private capital toward social and environmental causes while generating financial returns for investors. This approach is particularly relevant for black and brown entrepreneurs who often face systemic barriers that limit their access to capital and resources. Many of these entrepreneurs are creating businesses that address social and environmental challenges faced by their communities, such as access to affordable housing, healthcare, and education. However, they often struggle to secure the funding they need to grow and scale their businesses.

Despite the data documenting the opportunity gap for diverse founders compared to their White counterparts, there is a persistent narrative that suggests no correlation between race and ethnicity and business enablement. Yet, their funding journey varies significantly and getting people to buy into social impact as a business strategy isn't easy.

In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Jessica Salinas, Chief Investment Officer at New Media Ventures, discusses how impact investing can empower diverse entrepreneurs and contribute to a more just, equitable, and sustainable society.

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Market Researchers: Empathy Activists Dismantling Untruths

Dynamic storytelling is a powerful way to inspire others to take a desired action. For companies and brands, this could mean purchasing a product, attending an event, or signing up for a subscription service. Consumers, who share their perspectives with researchers on what they want and need, play an influential role in shaping these narratives.

By leveraging quantitative and qualitative research, researchers get a 360-degree view of the consumer, which fosters cognitive empathy. In a sense, researchers are empathy activists entrusted with sharing knowledge about consumers to help brands make better marketing decisions that drive engagement.

Cognitive empathy works to dismantle judgments and biases. Researchers engage people through surveys, focus groups, and other data collection methodologies and offer insights that reveal stereotypes, biases and untruths. Marketers must act on those insights and deliver relevant marketing campaigns based on truth.

In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Rob Volpe, CEO of Ignite 360 and author of Tell Me More About That: Solving the Empathy Crisis One Conversation at a Time, shares how cognitive empathy can foster diversity and inclusion in the insights industry.

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Training NextGen BIPOC Youth for STEAM Careers Can Close the Wealth Gap

Florida’s recent block of an Advanced Placement (AP) African American Studies course for high school students sent shockwaves across academia and enraged supporters. Providing all students with access to diverse educational opportunities broadens their perspectives and fosters empathy for each other’s plight. To limit those opportunities is to limit their growth.

Limits lead to disparities between educational environments, resulting in barriers to learning for some, and privilege for others. As a result of these inequities, Black and Brown communities have disproportionate access to advanced curricula like STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics), which are essential to achieving high-income careers and establishing generational wealth, which could alter the trajectory of underserved and under resourced communities.

On this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Dr. Hassan Brown, founder of Career Catalyst, talks about his journey into ed tech and the importance of training the next generation of BIPOC youth for STEAM careers.

About Dr. Hassan Brown:

Dr. Hassan Brown is the Chief Executive Officer of Career Catalyst, an education technology and multimedia endeavor within the Kapor Center, designed to cultivate confidence in young people of color from underrepresented backgrounds to pursue academic and professional STEM opportunities, increasing their odds of being full participants in the future of work and innovation economies, leading to more gainful employment and economic security.

Brown is passionate about bridging the gap between social justice, workforce education, and emerging technologies. He has served as the director of Harvard Innovation and Ventures in Education (HIVE) and has also been a startup advisor for the Harvard Initiative for Teaching and Learning (HILT), and currently serves as a startup advisor for Headstream, an accelerator from SecondMuse that focuses on youth wellbeing and centering youth voice in the discourse around emerging technologies.

Dr. Brown holds a Bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College, Master’s degree in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Masters in Education from Hunter College, and Doctor of Education Leadership degree from Harvard University.

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From Vision to Value, Creating Scalable Employee Resource Groups

Volunteer-led Employee Resource Groups aim to foster inclusion, belonging, and community among employees. An ERG with executive sponsorship, a clear vision, and shared values can increase employee engagement and be a vital component of a successful organization.

There are many different types of ERGs, and in recent years, organizations have focused these efforts on promoting diversity, equity and inclusion. Many of these groups center around employee populations disproportionately represented within an organization. Those tasked with leading these groups are the bridge between group members and organizational leadership. It’s a heavy lift, often without additional compensation, but it’s not without its benefits.

Participating in ERGs gives employees, particularly leaders of the group, access to various tiers of the org chart and opportunities to execute meaningful programming for persons who identify with those groups and the employee base as a whole. ERGs also facilitate professional development and the ability to showcase skills and capabilities, which can lead to job promotions and recognition. But key steps should be taken to launch and sustain an effective employee resource group.

In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Illianna Acosta, Senior Manager of Channel Sales and Global Co-Chair of LinkedIn’s Hispanic ERG, shares how Employee Resource Groups can be used to create an environment of inclusion and how to measure their impact.

About Our Guest:

Illianna Acosta has over 20 years of experience in AdTech, Partnerships, and Sales. Today, she is a Senior Manager at LinkedIn, managing Global AdTech Partnerships that accelerate innovation, revenue, and customer growth and the Global Co-Chair of LinkedIn’s Hispanic ERG. Illianna serves on the National Board of the 100 Hispanic Women Organization and is the Co-President of the Cornell Johnson School NY Alumni Organization. She is a sought out speaker on DEI topics and the author of “Lost In Translation,” an e-newsletter focused on highlighting challenges and limitations under-represented groups experience that have shaped them and how they show up in their personal and professional lives.

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DEI and Executive Buy-In: Why Hiring and Multicultural Marketing Are At Risk

Diversity, equity, and inclusion have been at the forefront of public consciousness since 2020. While these tenants were commonly known in academia, awareness among the general public is relatively new. Many companies and brands, in particular, are now grappling with balancing consumer expectations for DEI and navigating their learning curve.

DEI doesn't exist in a silo, however. It's not a department or a destination – it's a journey that winds through every aspect of an organization. It takes the total commitment of executive leadership for DEI to permeate an organization's culture and show up in its practices, from hiring diverse talent to launching inclusive marketing campaigns. This is particularly pertinent for firms interested in multicultural marketing. Firms with little to no representation of diverse professionals will find it challenging to attract multicultural consumers, and these firms may also find it harder to attract qualified candidates. Like consumers, job seekers want to work for an organization that shares their values, especially Millennials and Gen Zers, who comprise a large percentage of today's talent pool.

In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Dominique Dickson, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager at Heidrick & Struggles, explains why executive buy-in is crucial for building an inclusive workplace culture, attracting diverse candidates, and achieving better business outcomes.

About Our Guest:
Dominique Dickson is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager at renowned executive search and leadership consulting firm, Heidrick & Struggles. She began her career there in 2016 as a member of the Global CEO & Board practice that manages recruitment of the world's top leaders across a wide range of industries. Dominique was promoted to the internal DE&I function at the firm in 2021. Prior to joining Heidrick, she held various corporate operations, communications, executive support and project management positions in the legal, asset management and business consulting industries.

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