Kahlil Greene on how organizations can address diversity to attract young prospective employees-for the right reasons
“If you care about your people, you care about what your people care about,” was the mantra many took away from Gen Z Historian Kahlil Greene’s virtual talk, hosted by Aptive Resources’ Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Group earlier this month.
This theme accurately describes American corporations’ response, or lack thereof, to social change brought about by the events of 2020-and how they contributed to employees’ feelings of belonging in the workplace.
Greene’s long list of qualifications include being the first Black student body president at Yale University, an online educator, influencer and now TikTok creator, where he has amassed an impressive following with over half a million people.
Black History Month, celebrated annually during the month of February, derived from “Negro History Week,” founded in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson. Woodson believed Black students were not being taught accurately about their own history, so he came up with a solution to address this lack of education by dedicating a week to learning about their important heritage. Greene referenced this example, explaining that Woodson “diagnosed” the problem, and then “prescribed” a solution to address the issue-a methodology organizations should follow when addressing DEI initiatives.
Companies that have clear DEI programs are attractive to young prospective employees who have entered the workforce in the wake of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and the sweeping changes ushered in by the Black Lives Matter movement. Those organizations that make DEI efforts a top priority are set apart from those that do so to satisfy requirements or make a “business case for diversity.” This refers to organizations that only care about diversity to increase profits, according to Greene.
“If you’re still making the business case for diversity, your company isn’t the place for us,” Greene said.
Recognizing that each organization is unique, Greene said that every organization will have its own set of issues, which should be addressed with different programming.
Organizations must answer the question, “What issues are present and a priority for the community?” Polls to collect data, stakeholder interviews to obtain anecdotes and town halls to hear community-level concerns, are examples of communication platforms that, when well-established, are effective in gathering a “pulse” on DEI efforts and issues in an organization.
“DEI initiatives serve as solutions to serious, yet often unnoticeable issues faced by current and potential employees,” Greene said.
“Once organizations understand these issues, it’s really up to them to develop measurable strategies to address them to maintain a sustainable pulse on DEI and for the productivity and health of the organization overall.”
Written By Caroline Brandt