Strategies for Your Firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Program

Journal of Financial Planning: November 2020


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Say you have a team of mostly White men in your firm. A woman or person of color comes in and consistently gets cut off in meetings. Their opinions aren’t asked for or valued when they offer it.

According to a lecture in the Cornell University diversity and inclusion certificate program, these kinds of expressions of unconscious bias hinder your ability to retain diverse talent.

Like with any initiative in business, you need to implement formal programs with measurable goals in order to attract and retain diverse talent. Unconscious bias will influence how your employees interact and how diverse candidates perceive your firm and the profession as a whole.

The following programs could help you successfully recruit and retain diverse talent:

Unconscious bias and bias interrupter training. Unconscious bias is the problem keeping us from breathing new life into the profession. And we can’t fix it until we know it’s there.

Unconscious bias training can help us identify where it exists so your firm can best address it.

The example in this article’s first paragraph could be helped with what’s known as a bias interrupter. Training in this can help people spot when a diverse employee is getting talked over or treated less than and give your team skills to interrupt and redirect that.

Hire somebody to do this work. You have a chief marketing officer? Likely. And it’s probably because you care about marketing your firm. So why not hire a chief diversity officer if you care about diversifying your firm? Share some of those six figures your CMO is making with a CDO and then there is somebody trained and qualified in this area to help you really do the work. You wouldn’t go to a family practice doctor to do brain surgery, so stop asking people unqualified to do diversity and inclusion work to perform miracles without training.

Implement an accountability program. Establish an inclusion and representation program for each manager and hold them accountable for recruiting, training, and coaching underrepresented groups. Initiatives like this don’t survive on good faith alone; they need accountability.