SAI360’s Jen Farthing and Rina Souppa talk with Jennifer Winfield from the National Association of Black Compliance and Risk Management Professionals about DEI programs in this Risk & Compliance Magazine mini-roundtable.
R&C: Could you outline how environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors, such as diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), are ascending the corporate agenda? Which external groups are increasing their focus on these issues?
Farthing: We have seen a rise in expectations that chief executives and other senior leaders take a genuine stand on social issues like climate change and social justice. It is not enough to try and please all parties anymore. Everyone from employees to customers are loudly demanding accountability.
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) is the point where your organization’s priorities and your social responsibilities intersect. It is about ethical leadership and doing the right thing, and diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) is a natural extension of that mission.
Whether DE&I initiatives succeed depends on leaders truly committing to a challenging set of changes, even when it makes their own jobs harder.
R&C: What are the key advantages of promoting DE&I in the workplace? In what ways does a more diverse workforce help enhance business growth, brand reputation and organizational stability?
Farthing: There are two lenses to look through here. From a basic cost analysis perspective, successful DE&I is a strong profit driver that improves employee engagement, productivity and innovation. It boosts the bottom line significantly. From a leadership perspective, it is a way of communicating to the world that your organization prioritizes its people and their wellbeing.
When you combine those lenses, you see that DE&I makes companies more stable because the people who work there feel like their authentic selves are valued. So, you can further develop the employees you have and earn a reputation that will have the best candidates eager to join the company. It is a win any way you look at it, if you do it the right way.
Leadership must exhibit a sincere commitment to learning, processing and acknowledging cultural differences among employees and achieving cultural competence.
Reprinted from Risk & Compliance’s July-September 2021 issue.