To Build a Diverse and Inclusive Culture, Work Your D&I Team Out of a Job
We sat down with Angela Howard, director of talent management and culture at Kaiser Permanente, to answer these tough questions. Angela shares why she works each day to make the workplace an inclusive culture for all.
You can hear directly from Angela and learn strategies to cultivate inclusive workplaces by listening to the on-demand webinar What Your Employees Want: Be a Champion for Diversity.
Can you tell us about your background and experience?
I’m the director of talent management and culture for Kaiser Permanente’s Washington (KPWA) region. I oversee a brilliant team of organizational development, talent management and learning professionals who help drive culture change across KPWA. Prior to joining Kaiser Permanente, I spent more than a decade advising organizations and coaching executives to build businesses that thrive though people who thrive.
Why are you passionate about workplace diversity and inclusion?
I’m a millennial, bi-racial woman of color. I’ve seen firsthand the subtle exclusivity that occurs in the workplace and I’ve spent my career advocating for underrepresented individuals. I’ve also seen the pure genius that comes from diversity of thought, experiences and perspectives. I believe we can’t get far without taking equity, diversity and inclusion into the conversation about work.
I have a strong philosophy that the untapped potential of the workforce of tomorrow is grounded in intersecting individual passion with company purpose. If we don’t cultivate a workplace where everyone can be their true selves and make their most natural talents shine, we’re missing the point. Tapping into each variation of human and employee experience generates different ways of thinking, doing and operating in a highly competitive and evolving marketplace.
What is your view of diversity and inclusion in the workplace? Are employers making progress?
The workplace is a traditional system with traditional infrastructure. The mentality of “this is how we’ve always done things” is a detriment to progress. There is a lot of work to be done to increase representation of women and people of color in positions of influence and senior-level roles—our research says we’re at a standstill.
New research makes it clear: Employees want companies to take diversity seriously.
Where do you see workplace diversity and inclusion ten or twenty years from now?
I’m fighting hard, along with many others, to make the workplace an inclusive destination for all, but our biases and preconceived notions, traditions and assumptions are deeply rooted and tough to tease out – mainly because they are often not even noticed! I see us moving to a strong focus around inclusion – which breeds diversity. We must tackle the behavior and not the numbers.
What is the number one initiative employers can pursue to develop a diverse and inclusive workplace?
Work your D&I team out of a job.
Can you imagine if a single, centralized department was accountable for the coaching and advancement of all team members at your organization? Instead, organizations hire good leaders across every department to train, coach and advance team members. Similarly, D&I needs to become the responsibility of each person at the organization. Without embedding diversity into the very fabric that makes the machine work, it becomes an isolated program that someone else is taking care of.
Research conducted by Yello and The Harris Poll found that 64% consider diversity and inclusion essential when accepting a job. How can employers demonstrate a commitment to candidates?
Employers must find an authentic employment value proposition they can live up to each day. Employees should see, hear and experience inclusivity at every turn – from the hiring process, to on-boarding and all the way through their career development at the organization.
What do you view as the most important qualities of diverse and inclusive workplaces?
- Creative and innovative
- Open and collaborative
- Passionate and purposeful