Diversity and Inclusion are getting closer to “Belonging”

The field of Diversity and Inclusion (D & I) is evolving rapidly to focus in on inclusion or actions taken to create a sense of belonging not only for employees but also for patients, customers and other constituents. Three Human Resource leaders from the healthcare, financial and nonprofit worlds were on an Indy SHRM panel April 20th to discuss how they are moving their organizations from an emphasis on diversity (facts, numbers, tracking) to more of a spotlight on inclusion (actions that make people feel they are part of a larger whole).

Orson Mason, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for IU Health shared his organization’s expansion of inclusion to cover the patient experience from any of the many entry points (Emergency Room, doctor’s referral, etc.), through treatment and procedures, to recovery. In acknowledgement of the increasing diversity in Central Indiana, IU Health is examining the diversity of its staff at every touch point.

Britt Griffin, Vice President of Human Resources at Stonegate Mortgage, has had responsibility for diversity and inclusion throughout his career with different employers. He shared his great learning that D & I programs and initiatives will not succeed unless frontline and other managers are trained to implement them. Managers themselves need to feel included before they can do the same for their direct reports.

When it was my turn to share the continued D & I focus at United Way of Central Indiana, I emphasized the value of dialogue with all employees at all levels throughout the organization. Annually as part of one-on-one meetings with every employee at UWCI, I ask “Are you aware of any diversity issues—or perceived issues—that are impacting our ability to attract diverse job candidates or donors?” and “Is United Way a great place to work for ALL diverse employees?” The responses guide the development of the content of annual diversity training. I also shared my D & I goals for FY 2017-2018:

  1. Develop a more diverse talent pool from which to solicit job candidates.
  2. Create diverse interview panels to telegraph to job candidates the importance of D & I at UWCI.
  3. Increase the number of internal promotions of diverse employees.
  4. Increase the diversity of the director level and above.

Orson, Britt and I recognize that in our ever-more diverse community, it behooves our organizations to tap into D & I strategies to achieve overarching goals. Only when our employees feel that they belong will they be engaged and able to deliver their best performance on an ongoing basis.


Written by Nancy S. Ahlrichs, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Chief Talent Officer, United Way of Central Indiana