Editor’s note: This is the second post in an 5-part series on Shared Prosperity: Our Corporate Responsibility in a Time of Consternation.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for us to capture the moment we are now faced with as the crisis of social injustice and economic inequity plays in our nation’s streets. In my position paper, Shared Prosperity: Our Corporate Responsibility in a Time of Consternation, I call in business and civic leadership to be the catalysts for real and meaningful change. In my previous blog post I explored what it means to be an ally to Black and Brown associates, what it means to be the wind at their backs so they can rise to the highest levels of your organization based on their own agency.
Now I have a more challenging ask: create a company culture that truly embraces diversity and inclusion. It is hard and it takes time. A McKinsey survey found that only one in three organizational efforts succeeds with culture change, often the odds of success are even lower. The people who need to change their behavior typically have a clear sense of the costs of doing so, whereas the benefits of a “new culture” can seem fuzzy.*
Diversity and inclusion sound bites have never been more popular. The only way diversity and inclusion efforts will prove worthy of their newfound fame is if they are embedded in the hearts of leaders and at the core of enterprise (nonprofit, academic, health or corporate). Equity, diversity and inclusion efforts must have strategic and operational influence and not be a departmentally focused effort. As in any important business venture, leadership is key to the success of your organization’s diversity and inclusion efforts. Choose your leader(s) wisely and understand the key characteristics to success in the role: they must be advocates, bridge builders, unifiers, consensus builders and above all, tenacious. If they are doing their jobs right, they will make people uncomfortable by pushing boundaries while simultaneously building deep relationships and formidable allies to achieve progress.
At Midwest BankCentre, we embrace and foster diversity, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it makes good business sense. By embracing diversity in people, geography and products, we spark innovation that allows us to better understand and serve all of our customers. And our commitment to diversity and inclusion starts at the top. We have one of the most diverse bank boards in Missouri and 70% of our executive team is diverse. I believe this helps us better serve all of the St. Louis region. We have racial diversity unlike what you’ll see on just about any other corporate board. We have a board that reflects our values, that reflects the strategy that is important to the future of the bank.
Our commitment to our employees reflects our belief that values and culture are inextricably linked. Culture is the soil out of which all things, good or bad, grow. We have a DICE (Diversity, Inclusion and Cultural Engagement) committee that is charged with fostering the value we place in diversity and inclusion, as we believe it is a source of our competitive advantage and impact.
Tackling company culture may feel like a big leap, but I urge you to take the first step.
Lyons, Rich. (2017, September 27). Three Reasons Why Culture Efforts Fail. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.