I Used To Love D&I: Why I’ve Fallen Out of Love With Diversity & Inclusion

 

I USED TO LOVE D&I

Diversity and Inclusion was not my intended path. It was something that I knew very well at the ground-level being most often the only black woman in the companies, departments, and teams I worked for. Nonetheless, it wasn’t my focus to be a diversity and inclusion professional in the way that some may choose it as a field now. My work in HR brought us together. Whether it was the first D&I training I had in my first job where I spent three hours picking stereotypes out of a hat and affixing them under posterboards labeled “Black” “Hispanic” “Asian” or my long-stretch working for federal contractors who saw diversity as a burden rather than an opportunity; it is safe to say that I should have seen that the course was being set for me to have an impact in this arena.

The Impact

I had an impact ( and the journey continues). I saw the wayward relationship Talent Acquisition and HR as a whole had with Diversity. The annoyance of bosses of mine when asked about their hiring practices. They never had logical justifications for why they didn’t have a more diverse slate of candidates for jobs and I learned in the long run that they simply didn’t care. Watching the awkwardness of these relations and the contention at meetings, I often offered myself as the lone soldier that would either solely champion diversity efforts inside and out of the company or I became the one ally that Diversity had from Talent Acquisition. I went on to do some good work (never enough in my opinion). I became a regular face with local organizations that served the differently-abled population. I helped to train their people and even created some unique opportunities for internships and regularly paid positions for a few. I spent hours and hours for years combing through curriculum and tailoring it to what the market demanded to help my community organizations best empower their students. I fought for At-Risk Youth and got some of the most diligent and bright young men to work in fields they could never have dreamed of. It was good. I was doing good. That was until I realized that very few cared as much as I did about these people. I saw people. My employers saw these people as “good faith efforts”. Do you see the disconnect?

The Struggle is Real

You know you are in bad shape when you are working for a differently-abled person who doesn’t see the necessity in making a way for other differently-abled people. Add the red-tape of getting budget to move some of my programs ahead, even when I identified state funds that wouldn’t need to put a dent in anyone’s operational budget; the times that white people with no qualifications for the jobs they were being recommended for were dropped on my desk to execute an interview process and sometimes a hire. Perhaps you can start to get a glimpse of where my relationship with diversity went wrong. For whatever reason, there are companies that believe that putting a person of color or a differently-abled person in a diversity role means instantaneous success. Judging by the comments of Apple’s VP of Diversity (who has since apologized for said commentary), that is simply not true. In fact, it has been my experience that often times being a woman of color in diversity is a struggle. I remember being extremely excited to work with the African-American women who held diversity roles at two of my last jobs. In every instance, they all disappointed me and on some level, it wasn’t their fault.

You see, you can’t be a Black person or Latino person and start closing the gap for your own people in a substantial way. This is the trickery and illusion of diversity. Let me be clear, you cannot intentionally and substantially close the gap of employment, upward mobility and all of the other socio-economic factors where Blacks, Latinos, and even Asians are adversely-impacted. Even if all of the numbers around hiring, workforce census, metrics around people of color ascending to leadership or the lack thereof all align and express that there is a problem; in many companies, this will be regarded as you are hiring more Blacks, Latinos or Asians because they are your people. Instead, you have to speak about “diversity for all” white, blue-eyed men included with specific “initiatives” earmarked to attract more diverse groups.

Keep in mind we had a biracial, (but regarded as a black mostly) in President Barack Obama. If he articulated the disparities faced by diverse groups of people — supported by data and then went forward with closing those gaps ( and he did this to the best of his ability), he would be seen as being a president for serving individual interests. In other words, he would be somehow pegged as being discriminatory for eliminating barriers for people who really need it. This was the real and actual reality of his presidency. The same rings true for people of color in diversity and inclusion. Unless we are addressing the whole we can’t have programs for the select few who truly need our efforts and our help.

The Answer

You may be wondering: Why is it like this? I have an answer for you. Diversity & Inclusion is the American Red Cross of Racism and all other “isms”. Companies have decided that it looks good to be taking an action or actions towards diversity and inclusion except many of us know that there is no real change to the plight of people of color or any other marginalized group being made. It looks nice. It makes the company look attractive to say “they value diversity and inclusion”, but in practice, many do not practice what they preach. It is the reason why Unilever who is the parent company of Dove can be a part of a myriad of diversity-related coalitions and alliances and still have Dove be tone deaf enough to release their recent ad that simulates a white woman removing dirt from her body as a result of using their product that really ends up being a black woman.

 

 

Diversity & Inclusion is like getting a band-aid after you get bruised or wounded and suddenly someone says you have healed no need for that band-aid anymore and they rip it off without concern for your pain. So, I have asked myself what does it all matter in the end? If we are going to continue the diversity & inclusion dialogue, conferences and summits all highlighting the star-students of the bunch while being thoroughly-oblivious to how that doesn’t nearly speak to the other 80-90% of companies who couldn’t care less or care, but play helpless, or do just enough to ensure that they don’t jeopardize contracts or possible litigation — ask yourself what good is it all doing?

This my friends is the truth about diversity and inclusion. It stinks. It needs an overhaul and/or dismantling and it is virtually useless if the practitioners who touch it on a day-to-day basis don’t care about the only thing that matters in all of this and that is humans.

I will keep up the good fight, but I prefer to fight for people over lofty concepts like diversity and inclusion.

I have been doing deeper dives on this topic on my weekly livestream show “Ask Czarina Live” if you are interested, feel free to watch the replays here.

Three Steps to Finding Success Through Clarity

Image courtesy of Flickr.com

Image courtesy of Flickr.com

I’ve been having a lot of conversations with friends, family and colleagues about where I am currently and where all my efforts are headed. Young adults everywhere are charged with deciding at the ripe age of 17 what they want to do with their lives. In my case, it was expressed in choose a college and degree field. Make sure it is something that “makes sense and cents”.  I assume like most young adults now, I was supposed to be clear about what my life goals were. So long as I was clear on my choice, it was my charge to make a reasonable decision on the next steps thereafter. I’ll say that I did my best.

The issue was I didn’t have a definition for what clarity meant.  What I thought was “clarity” was really me blindly walking on a mirage of a straight line to career success. I was finding my way, but I was also doing the status quo. While I have no regrets about the journey so far, I am well-aware that I lacked some imagination in envisioning my future.  I’ve come to realize that the lack of imagination I had was directly tied a lack of clarity I had around what my heart truly desired. It made total sense. How does one imagine potential and greatness with precision if they are fuzzy on what success looks like? It simply cannot be done.  To be honest, it isn’t totally true that I was unclear, but I will own that I was superficially-clear. Anytime you are carefully balancing what you want with the opinions and criticisms of others you are going to come up short.

It gets boring and tiring to always be following the rules…my advice…break all the damn rules and smile doing it.

The past few years in business have reconfigured me in such a way that I had to become crystal clear on what I wanted for my life. Notice I didn’t say my “career”. You see, once I got clear on the life I wanted to live it became easy to infuse my career pursuits and business with the morals, standards values and mantras I live by daily. It pushed me to create a lane that was unique to me. As a result, I became emboldened and empowered to defy all of the so-called rules that were working against me. Having this level of clarity has not only been exciting, but freeing.

Here are three benefits I have experienced since becoming clear about the direction of my life and career:

1) I learned to say “no” often, without apology, and with confidence. I say “no” to business, to people I no longer need to be associated with; and to situations and circumstances that aren’t mutually beneficial to me or the other person. In other words, I do what I want, change course as needed and do so without saying “sorry”. Giving up saying “sorry” for living life on your terms is a hard habit to kick, but I have worked at it. When you aren’t clear, everything seems like something you should latch onto. I know now that I don’t need to do everything or know everyone — it’s all about finding the synergy in things.

2) Shiny objects, fads, “what everyone else is doing” doesn’t move me. I have long been a creature who is seldom moved and unbothered by the pomp and circumstance of others. However, I would be lying if I said I have never compared myself to others. It is what makes us human. I have been diligent in focusing on my own lawn. While I certainly keep a pulse on what is going on, I do my best not to get wrapped up in what everyone else is doing ( i.e. fads, best practices, shiny objects etc.). In the long run, it doesn’t have any bearing on what you are doing anyway. Not to mention, that unhealthy doses of comparison robs you of being able to be grateful for your own progress.

3) My brand and I are in the flow. My message, my brand and what I stand for are so much clearer now that I have clarity around the overall goal. I have spent the past few years rethinking and figuring out what I like, what I want my legacy to be about and making it a reality. I’ve come to realize less is more and sometimes the brand is simply the journey so far. Life in action. I’m essentially just working hard at living my best life.

Success is subjective and what you make it. If you haven’t achieved success in a way that is meaningful for you it is likely because you haven’t done the internal work required to give you the clarity you need to make the right moves. Make the time to think about where you are and where you want to be. Then, go for it.

I am growing a little community on Instagram called: Growth on my Terms. If you are looking for inspiration from everyday people on success, life and moving through challenges be sure to check it out and join the conversation: www.instagram.com/growthonmyterms.

Giving a voice to the voiceless with technology

Image courtesy of Ultimate Software.

Image courtesy of Ultimate Software.

Campaign/FTC disclosure: This is a sponsored product review. I will receive compensation for this post. I only work with companies I feel have great products, services and offerings. In accordance with my blog disclosure statement, I will only work with and showcase products, events and/or companies I believe my readers will benefit from.  I am not formally employed by Ultimate Software. All thoughts and viewpoints are created and written by me. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

In the HR industry, we spend a lot of time talking about the best ways to engage the people that work tirelessly for us. The thing that we often overlook in the engagement conversation is: “communication.” While that may seem broad, let’s explore a bit. How likely do you think your employees are to share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns at work? You may be thinking: “I have an open-door policy” or “we periodically send out employee surveys.” All of this is a great start, but I would argue that between your open-door policy, employee surveys, town halls, and overall company culture lays a tremendous gap between what you think you know and what your employees truly feel.

Why the gap?

Understanding employee voice requires that you understand the various inputs and ways in which employees communicate. Encouraging your employees to speak up is admirable, but not nearly enough. If asked, many employees will describe a sense of fear around offering up ideas, thoughts, and concerns, whether solicited or unsolicited. While this sentiment is often based on unfounded perceptions of the consequences of communicating freely, it is just as often rooted in experiences where feedback led to negative outcomes such as low performance ratings, indifferent behavior by management, isolation, and even termination as illustrated in an HBR article, “Can Your Employees Really Speak Freely.”

Case and point, employees are fearful of speaking up. In turn, that fear presents a challenge for organizations that are desperate to thwart turnover and other organizational maladies to better retain their workforce. According to a 2016 survey by Xerox, 53% of employers cite retention of top talent as an “organizational priority” for 2017. In order to retain your people, you need to have some insight into their ideas, intentions, and behaviors. The pathway to rounding-up that information isn’t exactly a simple science without some heavy lifting by technology. The reason for this is: Much of your intelligence around what motivates your employees is likely lying dormant as unstructured data fueled by performance evaluations, pulse surveys, exit interviews, internal communication tools, etc.

While all of this information is lying dormant, organizations are left vulnerable and in a state of inaction. Without visibility for situations and actions brewing under your nose, many organizations will continue to wonder why they can’t get ahead where employee engagement and retention is concerned.

Luckily for the HR industry, one of my favorite HR Technology companies, Ultimate Software, has gotten into the data game specifically to assist companies illuminating the true feelings and emotions behind employee responses.

Ultimate Software has a new solution called UltiPro Perception™. They were kind enough to allow me to ask them some questions about their solution and how it can help you. Here’s the scoop:

Help me understand how UltiPro Perception captures employee sentiment.

UltiPro Perception uses advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms to analyze open-ended responses within employee surveys. The solution’s sophisticated technology interprets text-based feedback to uncover the feelings and emotions behind employees’ responses. Leaders and managers can then assess the overall sentiment for individual employees, teams, or the organization as a whole. The solution also looks for repeated keywords to identify more than 70 workplace themes or topics, and over 100 emotions beneath the surface of employee answers.

Why is UltiPro Perception better than any other tool out there using sentiment analysis?

UltiPro Perception is uniquely built to analyze unstructured data and uncover not only what employees are saying, but also how they feel, about things like work environment, culture, and leadership. UltiPro provides managers with easy-to-understand, actionable insights that will have a true impact on improving employee retention and engagement.

Another key differentiator is that UltiPro Perception is part of UltiPro’s comprehensive HCM suite. Organizations can easily collect feedback from the right groups of employees based on location, supervisor, tenure, and more—essentially any data element within UltiPro. Most competitive tools have no or limited HRIS/HCM integration and lack enterprise-level requirements such as configurability options and proper role-based security. Other employee survey solutions typically require costly, manual processes or they rely solely on quantitative analytics, and therefore can’t give organizations a true understanding of employee sentiment before it’s too late to take meaningful action.

How does UltiPro Perception arm managers and organizations in being able to manage the Talent Management life cycle better (i.e. Recruitment through Succession)?

UltiPro Perception offers built-in survey templates to gather feedback throughout the employee lifecycle—from candidate, to new hire, engagement, post-learning, exit, and more. Surveys can be configured to automatically be sent once a specific work event occurs, such as a promotion or performance review.

Key driver analysis provides real-time, actionable metrics to help guide managers towards the most effective next steps. Combining these results with UltiPro’s predictive analytics tools and Leadership Actions, managers have powerful resources to support, coach, and retain their employees.

Regarding data and reporting, how simple is UltiPro Perception for HR practitioners new to sentiment analysis?

With UltiPro Perception, data collection, management, analysis, and the delivery of insights are all automated, with both standard and configurable reports available. Report-quality insights are delivered in plain English—no training required. UltiPro Perception’s easy-to-read, interactive reports are delivered immediately upon closing surveys, including the analysis of free-text responses. Reports are distributed based on the employee directory and can be tailored to individual managers or areas of the organization.

What are the long-term and short-term wins new customers can expect using this tool?

Short term—Organizations can immediately get a sense of how their employees currently feel about their work environment, leadership, and more. UltiPro Perception can uncover the organization’s strengths and key areas for improvement.

Long term—Organizations can utilize UltiPro’s workforce intelligence solutions, including UltiPro Perception, to uncover people challenges, predict outcomes, and recommend actions to drive better business results. Additionally, leaders can use historical benchmarking to assess how engagement scores are changing over time, in order to identify trends or patterns and determine long-term strategies to improve workplace culture and make better business and people decisions.

When will UltiPro Perception be available?

UltiPro Perception is currently available for purchase.

What is the approximate cost of the product?

UltiPro solutions are priced on a per employee, per month basis and costs various depending on a variety of factors, including company size.

Is there training or train-the-trainer opportunities available for organizations that need more?

Ultimate’s activation team guides all new customers through setup and configuration and Ultimate’s experts will also guide customers through executing and analyzing their first survey. UltiPro Perception is simple to configure and use, but if customers would like additional assistance Ultimate’s Services team will provide additional support to ensure customers are getting the most out of UltiPro Perception’s powerful survey and analytics capabilities. Ultimate also offers free learning resources for all organizations and their employees, including on-demand online training, webcasts, and more. Through Ultimate’s unique “People First” approach to customer service, all Ultimate’s customers have instant access to customer service experts, including a dedicated account manager and phone and online support.

You may be asking how you give a voice to the voiceless utilizing technology like UltiPro Perception. Here’s how you begin:

  • Audit your company culture to uncover both intended and unintended practices that may deter employees from openly sharing their feelings and thoughts.
  • Continue to find ways to include employees and their input in all aspects of your company’s operations
  • Ensure that there are simple and varied ways for your employees to connect and communicate with you.
  • Utilize sentiment analysis and machine learning technologies like UltiPro Perception to help you properly synthesize the valuable feedback you collect from your employees on a regular basis.
  • Make sure you are prepared to act upon the information you receive and make sure all levels of management do the same. It isn’t just about acquiring a solution like UltiPro Perception to help uncover this information. You actually have to be willing to make the necessary changes as needed to ensure your employees feel heard.

Organizations can no longer afford to ignore all of the data points available to them. Employees are communicating in a myriad of ways all the time. It’s time we start to listen to them.

Get a sneak peek of Perception via UltiPro’s product tour .

Also, Ultimate Software will be hosting a free webcast on April 25th for you to learn more about this product. To register, click here.

HR Technology Solution Provides Customers with More Options: A Look Inside Lanteria HR

Image courtesy of Lanteria HR.

Image courtesy of Lanteria HR.

Campaign/FTC disclosure: This is a sponsored product review. I will receive compensation for this post. I only work with companies I feel have great products, services and offerings. In accordance with my blog disclosure statement, I will only work with and showcase products, events and/or companies I believe my readers will benefit from.  I am not formally employed by Lanteria HR. All thoughts and viewpoints are created and written by me. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

One of the things that has bothered me from the very beginning with certain HR Technology solutions is the lack of flexibility. Sure, they all preach about how flexible their solutions are; but analysts who have been through their share of implementations can attest to a different reality.

We have been able to convince most of the HR industry that having technology to streamline and/or facilitate their internal processes has some substantial wins where both productivity and consistency are concerned. Now that we have their attention, it would seem that we need to meet them where their customer journey begins.

As someone who has worked in HR previously, I know that the customer journey towards purchasing HR Technology isn’t often a proactive decision; but rather a reactive decision that commonly results from several, separate, yet connected pain points with processes and/or home-grown systems. There are usually work-arounds for the work-arounds and systems that don’t speak to one another which causes inefficiency and frustration for those doing the work. When your solution arrives on the scene to save the day, the single, most impactful thing you can provide is a flexible solution.

Although there is plenty variation in customer needs, most HR professionals will agree there are some basic needs that can be extrapolated across our industry.

Here are a few of them:

  • HR professionals prefer a solution that is has the capacity to scale accordingly with business as it continues to grow.
  • HR professionals prefer a solution that is intuitive, can incorporate their company lexicon and doesn’t require a lot advanced training or thinking to utilize it.
  • HR professionals expect the solution to make their jobs easier.

Recently, I had the pleasure of getting an inside look into a solution I was unfamiliar with called: Lanteria HR. Lanteria HR is a global HR Management (HRM) solution best suited for mid-sized to large companies. They currently service companies with as little as 50 employees up to 20,000 employees.  If you are an Office 365 customer/fan, you will love the way Lanteria HR integrates with SharePoint and the Office 365 product. Lanteria HR is a SharePoint-based system which means you will enjoy the personalization of roles as it integrates well with Microsoft Office. Lanteria HR prides itself on their ability to meet their customers’ configurations needs without expensive software customization.

Lanteria HR has 9 functional areas that you can utilize via the various modules delivered via the solution.

The functional areas Lanteria HR covers are: Core HR, Time & Attendance, Compensation, Recruiting, Onboarding, Performance Management, Learning, Succession Planning and Reports.  You will find that each of the five modules in the solution allow for easy toggling back and forth without issue.

When it comes to user roles there are three within the solution. There are the Core HR users better known as “Super Users”.  Then, there are the roles of “manager” and “employee”. Lanteria’s team can also create custom roles depending on your organizational structure needs. During my testing, it was great to simply change existing organizational charts; but also to be able to create new departmental and group-specific hierarchies as your organization changes and scales.

Learning & Development has a special place in my heart

With a natural focus on retention being prevalent in the HR sphere, technology that can facilitate the ongoing process as well as the roll-out of programs to a large number of people will become important.

In Lanteria HR’s Learning Development module, every employee has a development plan and profile. They have delivered reports that track L&D milestones. In addition, you have the ability to deliver and L&D training directly from the solution.

Types of training that you can have in this system are: E-Learning SCORM courses, Video, Homegrown Training Programs, MP4 files and/or links to training hosted on the internet (i.e. Vimeo or YouTube).

Where Succession Planning is concerned, I like that they focus heavily on career pathing, internal talent pools and delivering career goals at all three role levels through their dashboards within the module.

What does implementation look like?

Implementation for Lanteria HR is about 2-3 months from the time a contract is awarded. There are once a week meetings where you will meet with your assigned project manager and engineer. It is recommended that you have at least 1-2 people internally that can serve as your implementation team.  All training is delivered remotely via the train-the-trainer method.

What do their Service Level Agreements (SLA) look like?

Lanteria HR allocates engineering time as part of your licensing package. Since your solution will can be  hosted on-premises or delivered as a SaaS solution, you will either rely on your internal IT Team or Lanteria’s team for resolution of any technical difficulties experienced.  Major updates happen 1-2 times a year.  Lanteria’s support team troubleshoots technical issues when they’re related to Lanteria HR. If you experience issues with SharePoint, it should be resolved by your SharePoint administrator, IT team or anyone who manages your SharePoint.

What about pricing?

Lanteria HR charges per license/module. All fees for licenses include the cost of the license and implementation. Prices will vary as they serve customers internationally. You will need to contact them to be properly priced-out based on your company, team and needs.

All in all, if you are looking for a solution that has the capability of being delivered on-premises or in the cloud; with greater flexibility, personalization and control over your next HRM solution Lanteria HR is worth a look. It is simple, does all of the things that we as HR practitioners need to do in a day, plus has some extras that can help us drive the proper messaging and programming around Recruitment, Retention and Succession Planning.

Want to see the latest version of Lanteria HR? Check out there short feature tour here.

Get know Lanteria via their product overview below:

 

 

Why self-preservation is top of mind for me in 2017?

Why self-preservation is top of mind for me in 2017

Welcome back! I took a bit of a hiatus at the end of last year to rest, regroup and reflect on 2016. Of late, I have been hearing way too many stories about people namely bloggers and influencers that have effectively worked themselves to the point of being depleted. In one recent story, a woman worked so tirelessly that she ended up in a mental hospital towards the end of last year.

Why am I sharing this?

At the end of last year, I was lethargic and couldn’t get a hold of my energy.  I wanted to understand why I felt so sluggish. It was at that point that I took to my Instagram to share my experience. Although hesitant to be this vulnerable, I was blown away by the response. Many of my friends and colleagues telling me it was the universe’s way of getting me to slow down.

And slow down, I did…

I took time to rest and reflect.  I had plenty of ideas during this time. I didn’t launch anything; instead I wrote them down. I did not do any paid consulting work during this time. My days were spent in the present with my kids, reflecting on 2016 and looking forward to 2017.

What I discovered is I was beginning to recreate the very thing I ran from when I left my full-time position in 2014. That thing that I was recreating was an unhealthy balance between work and life. Suddenly, I remembered the reason why building my business was important. It was important because I wanted to do work I loved and to live my life fully. Living fully for me is being able to continue building my business while tending to the needs of my 3 kids. It’s to provide a nurturing home and environment for my husband who works tirelessly for us while also traveling the world. Living fully and success also looks like me getting back to hobbies that once meant the world to me.

Success is a word that gets thrown around rather loosely these days. Nevertheless, what I described above is what success means for me in my own life at the moment. Working to the point of being in a stupor or worse a padded-room is a long way from what it means to be successful.

When I had to think of one word I want to represent 2017, “preservation” came to mind. Due to many things in the past few years, I need and will preserve my energy, my sanity, my privacy. I plan to preserve my legacy by safeguarding various effects of life and business.

More importantly, it appears that the preservation and/or protection of my civil rights and the rights of others will be in the forefront as well.  There’s a lot to do on this front and I am up to the challenge.

These aren’t resolutions by the way. I am at the point of recognizing the error of my behaviors and habits; as well as new opportunities for my talents. As a result, action is already in play.

What I want you to know is there is absolutely nothing wrong with chasing your dreams and working hard. The challenge is making sure your work doesn’t become all-encompassing and worst yet- toxic. What do any of us have if our bodies or minds shutdown on us? The answer is: we will have nothing.

I have already accepted that the juggle and balance will not always be ideal, but I am dedicated to striving towards it and being flexible on the outcomes.

From these realizations, I have created a new movement/community called: Growth on my Terms. This is my commitment and charge to see that people frame success in healthy and achievable ways. To see what I’m up to, you can check it out on Instagram at: www.instagram.com/growthonmyterms.

You can expect a lot more HR, Technology, and Business commentary here this year, but please make room in your psyche and heart for more of my journey and a-ha’s too. I look forward to sharing and offering you more insights.

Let’s grow, uplift one another and kill it in 2017!

Please share with me in the comments section how you are tackling 2017 so far?

 

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