Getting Started with Diversity & Inclusion


I’m so excited to be writing this right now! When the Buffalo Niagara Partnership asked me to be a part of the upcoming Diversity and Inclusion Symposium by writing and live tweeting about the event, I jumped on board. The event was on my radar because I love what it stands for – helping CEOs, founders, owners, human resources professionals, and managers get started with diversity and inclusion.

Early bird ticket pricing ends on May 29th. See the full program agenda and register here!

I think we all know that recognizing and promoting diversity in the workplace is the right thing to do, so why is it so hard to get started? In my experience as an HR Professional, there are 3 major road blocks – the first being lack of awareness. We all come from different places that have formed our perceptions of others and our unconscious bias. I’ve been seeing the terms microagression and casual racism show up in my twitter feed, and the examples shared show a major lack of awareness. One I recently saw was a woman sharing about being at an event where the event sponsor was a construction company and they were handing out flyers. As the sponsor was handing her a flyer, he said “give this to your husband.” Another example I saw was when a reporter started interviewing an Asian gentleman, and his first response was along the lines of “wow, your English is really good!” These stereotypes and judgements are harmful because they are offensive and impact our decision making. As HR Professionals, CEOs, and business owners, we are responsible for being aware of our own thoughts and actions and to continuously acknowledge them and work to improve.

The second roadblock is executive buy-in, which is why I’m so glad this event is targeted to CEOs, owners, etc. Without support from the top, diversity and inclusion will never truly be a priority. The third roadblock is the fear of the unknown – how will this initiative change our company or culture? What amount of resources is needed? What is the ROI and how can we measure it? What’s possible for our organization’s success and our employee’s success when we value D&I? How can we use all of our employees’ unique backgrounds to contribute to organizational success? How can we do a better job of recognizing unconscious/implicit biases and microagressions and then what do we actually do about it? The D&I Symposium will feature some strong and insightful speakers that will help us understand these questions and teach and inspire us to take action.

I’m interested in attending this event because I know the speakers are going to share some powerful stories and help me leave with tips and information around D&I initiatives. In my role as a Talent Acquisition Manager at Remedy Intelligent Staffing, I’m lucky enough to work with a variety of companies in Buffalo, primarily in manufacturing to help them add top talent to their organizations. Bringing on a new employee involves a lot of moving pieces, consultation, and is a lot more than filling a seat. Being able to use my HR background and bring as much knowledge as I can to my client organizations makes them stronger and better places to work. The smallest initiatives such as encouraging employees to work with or seek ideas from others who have different backgrounds, years of experiences etc makes a huge difference. You also get a lot more out of your employees when they feel included and heard.

As HR professionals, CEOs and business owners, it’s our job to understand the building blocks of diversity and remember that diversity is who do we bring into our organization, and inclusion is how we make them feel welcome, respected and supported when they get here. Current processes and policies within our organizations (recruiting sources, education requirements, how people get promoted, compensation and benefits, learning and training opportunities, how project teams are formed, work schedule or work/life balance, etc) can impact whether we can attract and retain a diverse workforce. Diversity extends from race and gender to include age, religion, disability, geographic or demographic factors, veteran or active-duty military status and so on. Some diversity traits are invisible such as socioeconomic status and varying perspectives and life experiences, which we all have!

This symposium will help us picture what’s possible, build an inclusive workplace culture, disrupt implicit bias, get started with D&I initiatives, and create and implement an action plan. If you’re wondering how I know this for sure, check out the titles of all of the amazing sessions and be sure to register ASAP! I want to see you there! Early bird ticket pricing ends on May 29th. See the full program agenda and register here.

I’ll be live tweeting during the entire day, so if you can’t make it, be sure to follow me on Twitter @_strclaire and #DISymposiumBuffalo for all of the great nuggets, quotes and learnings!

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