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Sara Tarca Featured in Connecticut Banker's Association Newsletter Discussing Diversity & Inclusion

“We’re Stronger Together.” This phrase is often cited when leading teams in strategic discussions, or when celebrating individual talents and expertise that brought great outcomes. Historically, however, financial services institutions have struggled to visibly demonstrate this belief, by way of policy or leadership modeling, when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I).

OneDigital Connecticut's Sara Tarca, Wellbeing Strategy Consultant, was featured in the latest Quarterly Newsletter from the Connecticut Bankers Association discussing diversity and inclusion in the article, Candid Conversations and Open Dialogues: How Leaders Can Establish Inclusion as a Core Value.

As a matter of fact, financial industry research from Deloitte tells us that the “path” to high-level leadership is not diversified, and often limited due to lack of gender equality in roles that lead to such positions. For leaders who seek to “widen the path”, or create a constructive and diverse culture as a whole, Freddy Mac’s Debby Jenkins may have summed it up best: “I can ask questions. I can educate myself.'

In this article, Sara discusses a 3 step guide employers who either are already on the road to greater cultural diversity or just getting started can use to support their employees.

    1. Establish Inclusion as a Core Value.

      • How to start? Try a culture audit, ask internal and external business owners, What are our strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and opportunities? By opening up the conversation channels, soliciting input, and asking for transparency, you will legitimize Inclusion as a core value. Consider new policies and strategic plans that are flexible, respectful of diverse thoughts and beliefs, and inclusive of talent across your organization. Click here for a checklist from Affirmity.com to learn more.
      • Good Intentions must be followed by strategy and framework. As noted in a recent Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) article, leaders can be frustrated by lack of progress despite dedicating significant time and budget to DE&I education or trying to “crack the code.” For many organizations, this means evaluating departments, reorganizing, and/or creating positions dedicated to DE&I.  Long-lasting cultural transformation must be supported and reinforced, not just plugged as annual training.
      • What does Cultural Transformation look like? Read here how Bank of America’s Chief D&I Officer, Cynthia H Bowman, describes and defines the creation of a culture that prioritizes diversity from the top down.
    2. Communicate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Values at All Levels.

      • Promote your updated policies, trainings and talent acquisition goals to demonstrate a commitment to a cultural shift, not just “this year’s” new strategy. Corporate communications to customer segments, the community, employees, and vendor partners should align and reflect the changing demographic and an inclusive environment with new ways of working, thinking, and believing. Create a task force or resource group and solicit input from all demographics, both internal and external stakeholders.
      • Management training must go beyond a quick fix. Shirley Davis, a 30-year HR veteran and workforce management consultant, notes that training cannot replace poor management decisions or bad behaviors that may have now gone viral. “Cultural transformation takes time and commitment”, according to Dr. Davis, and must be modeled at all levels for inclusivity to take hold. Dr. Davis stresses that it’s ok to “change the people who don’t want to change.” Leaders who let go of outdated belief systems, staffing, and hierarchies will position the institution for growth and productivity.
      • Invest in your culture. It can be difficult to objectively examine internal culture for equity gaps, lack of inclusivity, and bias, and to open the door to candid conversation. Yet, as a talent attraction tool, DE&I programs are noted to be a consideration for job seekers, according to Glassdoor surveys. In addition, PWC’s 18th annual Global CEO survey found that 85% of companies determined their formal D&I program benefitted the bottom line. Expert consultants or vendors can offer a perspective that differs from those found within your own organization. While your own HR team may be (should be) part of a training agenda, employees often appreciate and engage with external consultants with greater transparency and candor. While there are many excellent consultants, check out Race Forward or Israel Greene, who offers a free guide to courageous conversations as well as virtual or in-person workplace training.
    3. Define Inclusive Leadership

      • Inclusive leaders must look inward as well as lead outward. A recent study examined how inclusive leaders demonstrate inclusivity. The study (Getting Real About Inclusive Leadership— Why Change Starts With You) by research group Catalyst, looked at 2,100 employees around the globe and found more than 45% of employees who experienced inclusion tied this to a manager’s ability to lead inclusively. Catalyst found the managers can learn to lead outward (ensure team members are treated fairly and able to thrive) and inward (examine personal unconscious bias, self-reflect, learn, and act courageously). Directing resources of both time and budget will help your teams to define their own capacity for inclusion and strategies to measure improvement.
      • Learn to recognize bias. Even the most progressive leaders can unwittingly demonstrate bias because it is often so pervasive that it goes unrecognized. According to Lorraine Hariton, President and CEO of Catalyst, “Women and men with the same talents and skills are often described in very different ways due to unconscious gender bias, creating invisible barriers that can have an enormous impact on women’s advancement.” Leaders can invest in new employee resource groups, clubs, or even technologies, such as a “spell check”-like a plug-in, aimed at reducing unconscious gender bias that creeps into our communications. Called BiasCorrect, it was developed by Eskalera for Catalyst.org.

To read the entire article, access the Connecticut Banker's Association Quarterly Newsletter here.

To learn more about championing diversity and inclusion in your workplace, visit our Racial Equity Hub for more resources.

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