Sitting down with friends that span across the psychological and business owner realms, I talked about my plans for this endeavor.
I had spoken on this topic many times over. It wasn't new that diversity training seemed to stop short of the classic basics of a 101. It wasn't that the training was problematic. It was the follow-through: What do you do once training is over? How do you ensure that incidents, unpleasantries, and a decline in retention don't continue?
To some, this topic may seem very, "Duh, I know how to not be racist/sexist/homophobic/etc." But studies show that factors beyond training and retention regimes need to take place. A study done by Pennsylvania State University in 2004 titled "Recruitment is Never Enough: Retention of Women and Minorities in the IT Workplace" revealed that stopping short of recruitment resulted in lower retention rates. And with a recent evaluation of diversity reports from tech companies in 2017, the numbers are still abysmal.
When I first encountered something along this realm, my initial thought was that many of the statistics speak for themselves. Not so. After spending an evening sitting down with entrepreneurs who are people of color at a local networking and collaboration event in the St. Louis region, called Venture Café (it's part of the Cambridge Innovation Community's expansion of their local hangout which started in Boston with MIT faculty and students at a nearby pub), I found that many people of color already see the problem, clearly.
After discussing what we thought were obvious answers to the problem, I realized that not all people think alike when it comes to moving past the first hurdles of understanding diversity and inclusion. We talked about methods to ensure that the standards set didn't just "die away" and become a norm to be check-marked off the list of items that a company should do to remain compliant to local civil rights laws, it should be an integral part of their overall growth strategy.
From that, I've formulated a rough outline of services to offer:
Diversity Training Post-Mortem
For those that need diversity training, we can still work with collaborators to offer such services. But many times, that service ends, and the real work begins. We can offer a breakdown, to evaluate what was learned, what still needs to be worked on, and some methods to utilize when putting together a solid plan, going forward. We'll ensure that we're also abiding by local laws and standards (like HIPAA, FERPA, and other such regulations) to not reveal identities or make anyone feel pointed out.
Let's say you're a small business looking to grow, and grow fast! You've already had your diversity training set, but barring ensuring your newer employees are getting the same or similar training, you're starting to grow past the I-know-everyone-in-my-office phase. How do you keep a handle on the pulse within your organization, besides regular surveys, one-on-ones, and round-table discussions? We can be available to help with your burgeoning endeavor. We'll sit down, discuss the growth strategy, and evaluate any movements or shifts along the way.
We'll take the time to gather and comb through data from your current employees to point out any spots where you could use an extra boost. Intern recruitment not diverse enough? Diverse candidates not applying? Diverse employee turnover still high? We can take a look at what you've got, and try to help point you in the right direction.
Internal & External Research
In addition to the research above, we've talked about going out and meeting several people in your key market demographic. For instance, if you're looking to recruit more people of color in the technological fields, we'll work with a local college, university, or tech-based on-ramp program with a high proportion of people of color graduates in that area, and find out what's keeping them from making that extra step through your doors. We'd work in tandem with the information provided, internally, to spot exactly where those items may be lacking and causing a delay or deterrent from your shores.
Because our customer service upbringings anticipate a bevy of questions, we thought of some for you. Feel free to ask more.
How much are your services?
Services offered and costs are largely dependent on what you need. That's why we offer a free consultation, upfront, to assess if we can provide the services you require, make suggestions on what we can do to help, and offer a package that is uniquely suited to your needs.
Why isn't there a template or boilerplate method?
Because everyone and every organization is different, so are our methods. Above is a rough outline of the type of services we will offer. But when it comes down to it, we realized that each company or business has its own unique footprint of diversity. A standard checklist didn't seem to fit most, so we decided to throw that away. Instead, we'll use experience, counseling, and individual talks to sort out the best way to fix a broken system.
How long is your retainer?
For as long as you need. We discovered that many companies may not need us every single day. Say that your company really slows down during the summer months (kids out of school, family vacations, and personal getaways happen, etc.). If you decide to do our training or use our services during that time, we're obviously not going to get the bulk of your employee base. So, we can break it down into months or weeks and stay on board with you until we've had enough time to meet with almost everyone. Less stress on you to try to get all your troops gathered together at one time, and less stress on us where we're not trying to pack in so much knowledge in so little time.
What if I have more questions?
Contact us using our form at the bottom of the Home page. We'll be happy to answer any of your questions.
Want to know more about us, or our founder, LaShana Lewis? Visit the About page.