This CEO Helps Leaders Prioritize Diversity in the Workplace

For decades, we’ve been working toward inclusion and diversity in the workplace. More recently, various industries are carving out roles intended to elevate often marginalized employees. "Chief Diversity Officer" has even become a defined position in corporate C-suites. Such progress is thanks to people like Simone Morris, the CEO of Simone Morris Enterprises LLC — a certified minority and women-owned business enterprise. Morris has won awards for being an industry leader in diversity and inclusion consulting.

“As race relations and social injustice continue to bubble up as top discussions from the pavement to the boardroom, individuals (and employers) are being called out for failing to demonstrate that they actively embrace and value a diverse and inclusive workplace,” Morris tells CircleAroundAccording to Morris, we’ve reached a point in society where more and more people know leaders cannot simply “walk the walk."

They must be held accountable for their actions, too.

“Consumers want to see how leaders and employers take a stand to combat racism and close the gap against social injustice,” says Morris. “And while this doesn’t seem like an outlandish request, the problem is that many employers, and even corporate leaders, have no idea how to exercise their inclusive leadership muscles and come out on the winning side of race relations.”

We’ve reached a point in society where more and more leaders cannot simply 'walk the walk.' They must be held accountable for their actions, too.

To help people become more inclusive leaders, Morris designed an Inclusion Bootcamp. The six-week intensive program is meant to teach participants to connect with peers about their current feelings toward diversity and to give them tools to make their workplaces more inclusive. Participants learn that their companies can make diversity and inclusion part of their mission by creating listening groups through engagement surveys and anonymous feedback, embracing diverse vendors (especially small businesses), and developing ongoing inclusion training sessions for new employees.

“As an employer or a corporate leader, I know you want your sphere of influence to be more inclusive of people from diverse backgrounds,” says Morris. She helps participants develop psychological safety methods to ensure their companies provide a safe space for people of all cultures. Morris helps people understand how their employees’ diverse backgrounds impact the workplaces, and how those employees can be empowered.

Another element of Morris’s work is helping companies with recruitment and retention.

Learning Where to Find Talent

“As a human resource (HR) professional, I know you’d love to ‘close the gaps’ in your workplace when it comes to hiring Black and Brown people. But you also have to stop saying you don’t know where to find diverse talent.”

Morris urges recruiters to reach out to networks built for empowering marginalized populations, such as the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, the National Minority Supplier Development Council, and the Inclusive Leaders Community.

Morris says it’s important to train hiring managers who can find and retain employees from diverse backgrounds. She suggests that workplace leaders allocate proper, equitable funding toward employees of color, along with mentorship programs or direct access to executive employees, so these workers can learn to replicate successful career paths.

She emphasizes that workplace diversity and inclusion is never a “one and done” affair. It takes time, practice, education, understanding. Above all else, Morris says it takes compassion and commitment to serve these talented people. “The world is counting on you," she notes, "not just to stand up, but to fight on the right side of race relations and social injustice.”

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