For a number of years, efforts to increase diversity in the workplace was seen as a good thing to do. Now it appears a large number of major employers view it as essential to business success and are committing to a national initiative called CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion
The CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ is a very serious CEO-driven business effort to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace. Employers involved include Cigna, Anthem, Target, Deloitte, Dow, and General Mills.
As organizers point out, this initiative matters because the U.S. workforce is getting more diverse every day. In fact, according to census experts, there will be no racial or ethnic majority in America by the year 2050.
The program aims to rally the business community “to advance diversity and inclusion within the workplace by working collectively across organizations and sectors. It outlines a specific set of actions the undersigned companies will take to cultivate a trusting environment where all ideas are welcomed and employees feel comfortable and empowered to discuss diversity and inclusion.”
All employers participating in this initiative have pledged the following:
- “We will continue to make our workplaces trusting places to have complex, and sometimes difficult, conversations about diversity and inclusion:We will create and maintain environments, platforms, and forums where our people feel comfortable reaching out to their colleagues to gain greater awareness of each other’s experiences and perspectives. By encouraging an ongoing dialogue and not tolerating any incongruence with these values of openness, we are building trust, encouraging compassion and open-mindedness, and reinforcing our commitment to a culture of inclusivity.”
- “We will implement and expand unconscious bias education: Experts tell us that we all have unconscious biases — that is human nature. Unconscious bias education enables individuals to begin recognizing, acknowledging, and therefore minimizing any potential blind spots he or she might have, but wasn’t aware of previously. We will commit to rolling out and/or expanding unconscious bias education within our companies in the form that best fits our specific culture and business. By helping our employees recognize and minimize their blind spots, we aim to facilitate more open and honest conversations. Additionally, we will make non-proprietary unconscious bias education modules available to others free of charge.”
- “We will share best—and unsuccessful—practices: Each of our companies has established programs and initiatives around diversity and inclusion. Yet, we know that many companies are still developing their strategies. We will commit to helping other companies evolve and enhance their current diversity strategies and encourage them, in turn, to share their successes and challenges with others.”
How much does all this matter?
A preponderance of data suggests that diverse workplaces are more productive, more innovative, and more successful than those that are not.
Additionally, diversity issues can become regional and/or global news in an instant, creating positive or negative public relations for companies. Employers cannot ignore this reality.
All these factors aside, there are real legal risks associated with incorporating or in failing to update diversity plans. The risks include things such as reverse discrimination lawsuits and certain diversity audit information becoming discoverable during future litigation.
If you are an employer in Connecticut and need guidance with workplace diversity plans, contact the attorneys at Kainen, Escalera & McHale. We do one thing and one thing only – we are an employer defense law firm – in fact, we are one of the largest employer defense law firms in the region. What’s more, each of our attorneys has over 20 years of experience in employment law and labor law matters and can provide your business with comprehensive legal counsel ranging from assistance with necessary preventive measures to trial advocacy. Please contact us if we can help you.
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