November 29, 2018

4 Steps to Build your Diversity and Inclusion Program

As the Senior Director of Global Talent Acquisition at Carbon Black, I’m continually looking to evolve our hiring practices. My current focus is on building a more diverse and inclusive organization. I'm passionate about the work involved in developing an inspiring culture and know the importance of diversity and inclusion (D&I) plays in this space. Starting a D&I program can feel overwhelming, especially if you're building it from scratch. As our work in this space continues to grow, we've learned a lot along the way. Here are some helpful tips to get you started.

How to Get Buy-In

Your D&I program will see more success if employees and candidates can see that your leadership team is passionate about it. Buy-in is crucial; otherwise, it will be seen as a buzzword or just a metric to hit. Diversity and inclusion need to be part of your company's DNA from the top down and vice versa.

We're fortunate at Carbon Black, as our CEO cares deeply about our people and wants to have greater representation across all teams. Our conversations started with the notion of bringing more women into leadership positions at CB, and very quickly, all execs were on board.

To implement this, we committed to ensuring we interviewed at least one diverse candidate for all of our senior-level roles, as well as expanded our reach by sourcing in more diverse candidate pools. Also, having our CEO be excited while signing The Parity Pledge showed our commitment from the top down.

As we started to dig and learn more about what we were doing, we identified and selected leaders in the organization who showed interest in doing more to drive change. Once we had support and collaboration with key leaders, we used an all-hands company meeting to announce the work we signed up to complete throughout the year. We also shared our data, illustrating the percentages of minorities we have within the company. Transparency is at the core of our belief system here at CB, and we believed sharing our stats was a critical piece of our journey. Our numbers weren’t terrible but showed we had a lot of work to do to have greater representation of minorities at our company.

How to Secure Budget

It can be challenging to secure funding when you're just starting, especially if you are pitching this after budgets for the year have been solidified. In our first year, we self-funded the majority of our initiatives. However, we also approached key leaders and asked for their financial support for a few specific events and outlined how their dollars would empower our employees. A great example of this is the way we funded a large group of our women to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration. This substantial investment was split across HR, Sales, and R&D, and everyone was aligned on the positive impact something of this scale would have on our people.

When it comes time for budget chats, be sure to get your voice heard. Try to coordinate with key leaders during annual budget reviews to ensure D&I is on their roadmap. For example, ask them to carve out a bit of their employee development budgets for diversity-specific events, workshops, conferences, etc. A little bit from everyone’s budget can add up, making a big impact.

How to Get Started

It takes a village. Even after the tough task of securing leadership buy-in and (hopefully) funds for your program, the work has only just begun. Building a workplace where diversity is embraced, and inclusion is organic won't happen if it's the company or HR giving a directive. It's not authentic, and it won't be a true component of your company culture. To make it a success, you need a team of people.

Ideally, you want to name someone who will be a dedicated program manager. This person will look into opportunities, manage requests, oversee the budget, tap others for assistance, plan, and execute. This person may have a full-time job doing something else, but if she/he is passionate about the work, it will be easy to find time to support it. Help them out by appointing a handful of others who can implement initiatives, too.

To ensure your program is resonating with your people, and to make sure you’re finding relevant opportunities, consider Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). These groups will be your on-the-ground folks who have a pulse on relevant diversity-focused events, causes, groups, and so on. This is something we’ve recently implemented at Carbon Black, starting with ERGs for women, LGBTQ, and blacks. These groups have been instrumental in helping us provide the right opportunities and support for our people.

To make things stick, it’s also beneficial to have advocates for your D&I program. This should include leadership, as well as vocal members of the company or passionate individual contributors. These advocates will keep things top of mind for employees.

How to Make the Most of your Resources

You likely have a small budget, especially when you're just starting out. To make the most of this, you need to figure out what your goals are if you haven't already. For example, Carbon Black's first focus was on women. We wanted to not only get in front of women to recruit them, but also support the women who were already working for us.

With that in mind, we had to think of how that translates regarding budget. For instance, if 50% is focused on external and 50% internal, how will that be allocated? For external, we invested a good chunk of funds on the Grace Hopper Celebration. This was a big win for us, as it helped us get brand recognition in front of a ton of women, and provided a great platform for our women to learn. With this eating a majority of our budget, we used the rest for ads, job boards (i.e., Career Contessa), and video shoots. For our internal program, we've held many on-site events where women could network, learn, and develop skills. We also invested in a women’s mentorship program and will be sending a number of our people to the Mass Conference for Women again. Hopefully, these examples will give you some ideas on how you can break down your budget.

The real challenge we've run into is knowing where to invest. There's a lot of noise surrounding diversity and inclusion, making it hard to sift out which opportunities are appropriate. We're seeing more job boards launching, more events springing up, and more diversity chapters looking for sponsors. It can all be overwhelming to manage.

When you’re approached with these opportunities, dig deep into what they are and compare them against your goals. Does it align? Will it yield the best results for the effort and costs? Do you have the resources, such as people, to invest? My suggestion is to set aside some contingency funds to trial out newer options. Some of these things are going to require you to test it out to know if it’s worthwhile, so make sure you factor this into your budget.

Building D&I will benefit your company in many ways. The real challenge is making the most impact with, potentially, minimal resources and keeping the momentum and excitement going. Hopefully, these tips can help you in the early stages of your program build-out and/or reevaluate an initiative already underway.

Marisa Ianelli is the Sr. Director of Global Talent Acquisition & Talent Brand at Carbon Black