Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summit aims to help leaders realign core values
For Nakeia Drummond, creating a diverse and equitable work environment is not a question of putting practices in place; it’s about leaders realigning core values.
As founder and CEO of equity-focused management advisory firm NLD Strategic, Drummond said over the past year or year and a half she’s seen leaders from some big name organizations mobilize and challenge themselves. But even then, she says, they are just taking the first steps on a long journey.
“It’s first a questioning of yourself and your values and what you hold to be true, developing a new North Star for yourself, and then questioning your practices and how they align or don’t align. align with this new pole star,” Drummond said. “And then it’s a lot of work after that, because you can query one thing and still not change it.”
Drummond, whose company supports the development, implementation and measurement of strategies in social impact organizations and businesses, is the keynote speaker at The Daily Record’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Summit on March 23. The virtual event will bring together Drummond and three panelists to discuss how to attract and retain talent and grow business through DEI practices.
“You can’t do DEI,” is just one way Drummond describes his message.
“We’ve all been powerful and powerless in certain circumstances,” Drummond said. “It’s about understanding the context of our own power and how that manifests in our organization and in society.”
Several panelists noted that organizational change is a shared responsibility.
“Everyone has a role to play in creating a long-term plan to transform organizational culture and embed diversity, equity and inclusion into all systems and practices,” said panelist A. Tonya Odom. , Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst). “Moving the needle to implement real change requires intentionality and collaboration between all parts of an organization. No one person can create a meaningful impact on DEI in a business.”
One practice that Odom has seen having an impact is working with employees and leaders to expand informal networks of mentors.
“A lot of times we find ourselves gravitating around people we relate to, but that doesn’t give us the opportunity to experience something new or grow,” she said, noting that the practice has broke down the walls and created a more inclusive workplace for everyone.
Panelists mentioned that accountability is key. Panelist Angel St. Jean even created a technology tool – EquiScore BI – stock scoring software that will help companies make data-driven decisions to track and measurably improve DEI.
TEDCO, Maryland’s economic engine for tech companies, announced Monday that its building fund has invested $100,000 in St. John’s company The Black Brain Trust, recognizing that EquiScore BI creates a more transparent workplace. and fair.
St. Jean, co-founder and CEO of The Black Brain Trust, said the investment will allow companies to target investments in areas that need the most work, and see and track measurable improvements over time. time, specific to their industries.
“We can’t address the disparities that exist for different groups without confronting those disparities directly,” St. Jean said. “And that’s what we’re trying to do with our platform is to enable businesses to really confront those disparities and understand where they are and provide advice and guidance on where to focus and improve.”
At the University of Maryland, Baltimore, Diane Forbes Berthoud, another summit panelist, said her role as the first chief equity, diversity and inclusion officer and vice president of the university was not to support all diversity initiatives. Instead, it helps bring a more cohesive vision and elevate and strengthen existing inclusion efforts. It is a mindset that is needed in every organization, she said, so DEI is fully integrated into the life and mission of the institution.
“I hope people will leave (the summit) more empowered and informed about how to lead, facilitate and advance equity, diversity and inclusion strategy, implementation and accountability. “Berthoud said.