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    Steps Women Business Leaders Can Take to Make Diversity a Priority

    The issue of diversity has been a constant theme throughout my life. I am a proud American citizen, but I did not start my life this way. I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa during the apartheid regime. However, I was raised to believe that all people are born equal and spent many years trying to disassociate myself from my identity as a “white South African.” As a woman business leader, I do not take this issue lightly and am constantly aware of not only the political need for diversity, but also how embracing diversity creates expansion of ideas, creativity and thus produces innovative outcomes.

    In a recent article by former Campbell Soup CEO Douglas Conant, he describes how Campbell Soup embraced diversity and made a commitment to promote acceptance and appreciation for each employee’s special talents and background. I’ve condensed his tips here for you to read and possibly incorporate in your business model:

    1. Confront the brutal facts
      We took a hard look at ourselves. Our products were on the shelves of virtually every American home, but our workforce was insufficiently representative of the diverse people we were serving. If we maintained a narrow recruiting framework, we would be also be missing out on some terrific talent.
    2. Create a disciplined plan
      We challenged leaders to strengthen their understanding. Hiring managers had to make sure that every position had a diverse slate of candidates, and they were held accountable for advancing our performance in this regard.
    3. Declare yourself
      “Be the change you want to see” in your organization, no matter whether you are a middle manager or a CEO. I actively supported our human resources network groups and several novel ideas that came from the nooks and crannies of the organization.
    4. Educate the organization
      We developed a suite of courses, such as “Micro-Inequities” where people learned about common behaviors that could undermine our efforts. We wanted to make sure that people learned to listen, speak and act more inclusively.
    5. Deploy mentors and support networks
      We put in place consistent and sustainable support mechanisms in the form of six human resource networks for women, people of various ethnic backgrounds, generations, and sexual orientations.

    Please see  “How To Make Diversity and Inclusion Real” to read the entire article. I know many companies talk about accepting and embracing diversity, but how many do you think actually do something about it? I’d like to hear what you have experienced in the workplace, so please leave a comment below.

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