Why Diversity is Not Enough — Keith R. Wyche

I had the opportunity to speak with The Chicago Defender about my new book, ‘Diversity is Not Enough: A Roadmap to Recruit, Develop and Promote Black Leaders in America.’ We discussed why some companies’ DEI efforts are simply not enough. Many companies take the first step of hiring diverse candidates, but stop there, and fail to support and guide these candidates to success.

Read some of my comments on these issues below.

“I’ve had the fortune in my career prior to Walmart to have had vast experiences. I’ve been president of three companies, serving on the board of a publicly-traded company and so you know I’ve seen this from the classroom to the boardroom. Quite often it starts with understanding those people who are in power. Power concedes nothing, basically without a fight, and people in power, consciously or subconsciously don’t want to release that power. So that’s the first thing.

“The second thing is that a lot of the DEI efforts that I’ve seen have focused primarily on just recruiting. Recruiting is just the tip of the iceberg because what happens is that you recruit a Black or brown person, and then you don’t pay any attention to how they’re brought into the organization. You don’t focus on their development, their needs, you don’t make sure that you know they have equal access to opportunities for growth and development. What then happens is it becomes this revolving door.

“When I talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion, it is simple. Diversity says everybody gets invited to the party and that’s where a lot of companies stop. Inclusion says you’re made to be welcomed, heard, valued, appreciated and you’re offered a seat at the table. Then what’s really missing is the equity piece that says, ‘I get the same meal of opportunities as everybody else.’ Equity is where a lot of companies fail. We think if we just hire enough of them, that’s good but and that’s not enough.

“Another problem as it pertains to Black people is we can be lumped into this person of color matrix. This particularly happens in technology companies in Silicon Valley because they bring a lot of Indian American associates who qualify under the people of color banner. So they can have a number that says the company has a 30percent representation of people of color and only two percent are Black or Latino and companies are able to hide behind that.

“The third thing that hurts us is inaccurate reporting. What I mean by that is that companies can say that they have a 22 percent representation of Blacks in this company, which sounds great. But, when you peel that onion back, what you find is that their diversity is all clustered at the bottom entry-level, low-level jobs. As you matriculate up to senior-level officer that number dwindles down and goes from 22 to 2.”

Keith Wyche is a change management leader who strives to assist organizations in reaching their potential. With decades of experience managing billion-dollar businesses across several industries, Keith applies a holistic approach to sustainable and efficient change. Keith is an author and leader who advocates for diversity, equity, and inclusion in workplace talent and in customers through bridging community gaps. His vast experience and skills allow him to turn around struggling organizations and create strategic solutions for the best results.

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