7 Takeaways From Our Rix on Race Webinar, “How to Improve Your Business by Investing in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion”

On October 29th, we hosted the second session in our three-part “RIX on Race: DEI in Practice” series, How to Improve Your Business by Investing in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. In this session, featuring Jocelyn Lincoln, Chief Talent Officer at Kelly Services, and Corey Flournoy, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Groupon, we explored what successful DEI in practice looks like within a business, how to get buy-in and investment from business leaders, common challenges you may encounter, and more.

Below are seven takeaways from Corey and Jocelyn’s engaging discussion.

1. Diversity without inclusion isn’t diversity

Corey notes that diversity is the representation of all our varied identities and differences (race, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, tribe, caste, socio-economic status, thinking and communication styles, etc.), collectively and as individuals. But diversity can’t stand on its own without inclusion; the act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to participate fully.

2. Companies need to be proactive in their approach to DEI

According to Jocelyn, it wasn’t until the police brutality protests of 2020 that most companies began searching for an inclusive path forward for their employees. This year highlighted the lack of a plan many companies had in place to facilitate those necessary conversations.

“There is an opportunity in all organizations to start building relationships with people now. It shouldn’t take a major crisis or something happening in the world before you reach out to certain communities.” – Corey Flournoy

3. Don’t just create programs; create business imperatives

If your company approaches DEI as anything other than a business imperative, it will be treated as such. The same thinking applies to where you place individuals in your organization—unless they have a strategic seat at the table, your organization won’t see a marked change, and DEI won’t be prioritized in the long run. 

“Any time you put ‘program,’ ‘task force,’ or ‘initiative’ on anything, it has a connotation that it’s short term and not really part of the DNA or fabric of who this organization is.” – Jocelyn Lincoln

4. Tie your DEI goals back to business value

Simply hiring diverse individuals isn’t enough to get leadership buy-in. You need to identify what hiring more diverse individuals will do for your business to get leadership on board. Jocelyn shared, “We’re not just going to do things because they feel like the ‘right’ thing to do or the ‘good’ thing to do. We need to make sure that we’re demonstrating business value back to the organization.”

“Your strategy can’t be ‘we want to hire more diverse people,’ because that’s not enough to motivate businesses.” – Courey Flournoy

5. Challenge outdated practices

Jocelyn urges individuals to approach existing, run-of-the-mill practices with a critical eye. For example, when looking for diverse candidates for a particular role, consider your requirements. If you’re asking for industry experience in an industry with a diversity problem, you won’t find diverse candidates. By challenging practices like this, you’ll create a more diverse and inclusive environment.

6. Practice what you preach. DEI starts with your workplace culture

Organizations will often put inclusive messaging out into the world without first focusing on their own organization. Jocelyn explains, “I would have a huge issue if I worked at an organization that was putting things out in the marketplace about ‘we’re committed to this,’ and ‘we have zero tolerance for this,’ and ‘our customers mean XYZ,’ and my experience in that organization is totally opposite that.” Your messaging needs to align with your organizational values, or you’ll see blowback.

“Your starting place has to be with your own internal employees.” – Jocelyn Lincoln

5. Build relationships and identify sponsors

According to Corey, rather than looking for mentors, look for sponsors. “You have to start building relationships with people who are in positions who can make things happen if you don’t have that position of power,” he said. Jocelyn echoed that this is particularly important for diverse populations looking to grow their career or DEI initiatives within their organizations. 


Watch the full recording.