DEI in Company Culture and Communications
Check out these key moments from our recent webinar, DEI in Company Culture and Communications, featuring a panel of faculty presenters:
- Olasumbo Adelakun, PhD, Adjunct Professor for Master of Arts in Leadership program
- Kimberly DeSimone, PhD, Program Director for Master of Arts in Leadership program
- Pauline Hoffmann, PhD, Associate Professor for Master of Arts in Communication program
Schedule time to speak with an enrollment advisor to learn more about the online graduate programs at St. Bonaventure University..
Katie Macaluso: Let's go ahead and get started. I know we do have a full agenda today. As everybody else continues to enter the Zoom room, we'll go ahead and get started here. I'm Katie and I want to thank you for joining us virtually today. Today's presentation, DEI in Company Culture and Communications, is hosted by the Jandoli School of Communication. We'll be hearing today from faculty who teach in our online master's in communication and online master's in leadership programs. Before we get started, I do have a few quick housekeeping items for you.
All participants are muted, so that means you can hear us, but we can't hear you. Therefore, if you do have any questions, please use the chatbox to let us know, or as well if you have any questions that you'd like us and our panelists to answer, if you use that Q& A box, we'll save time at the end to answer all of those questions. And then finally, we are recording this event and we'll be sharing out that recording with all participants after the event. I'm going to go ahead and share my screen here.
Bear with me for just a moment. ( silence). All right. Hopefully, you all can see that. I wanted to go ahead and introduce our panelists today. With us is Dr.
Kimberly DeSimone. She is the director of the online master's in leadership program at St. Bonaventure University. She's a gender equity expert and co- chair of the university president's commission on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Her professional focus has centered around leadership advancement of women and underrepresented groups focusing on gender bias, power distance, and feminist theories. She is also the host of a new podcast, Advancing Women. Then with her, we also have Dr.
Ola Adelakun, an adjunct professor at St. Bonaventure University and a faculty member in our master's in leadership program. She is a passionate educator, researcher, diversity, and equity advocate and public health professional who strives to understand issues that impact disadvantaged communities. Her professional focus has been on improving and driving positive health outcomes within underserved communities and creating organizational cultures in which everyone feels represented and valued with equal opportunities to succeed, learn, grow, and contribute their best.
And then finally, we have Dr. Pauline Hoffmann, an associate professor at St. Bonaventure University. She teaches in the online master's in communication and leadership programs. Her professional focus includes conflict resolution, leading change, and corporate communication and strategy. As Data Doyenne, she has a podcast and associated blog to help both the data nerd and data nervous understand science and data. Prior to entering her career in academia, she worked in creative services for Catholic Health in Buffalo, New York.
Thank you so much to all of our speakers for being here today. As we move through our sites, we've organized our content around five questions central to this topic. And then as I mentioned, we'll save some time for Q& A at the end. With that, I'm going to go ahead and go to our first question here. This question is, " What is DEI and why is it especially important to leadership and communication teams within an organization?" I'd like to start this one with you, Dr. DeSimone.
Dr. Kimberly DeSimone: Thank you, Katie.
Thanks for the introduction. This is a really great broad view question. I think we hear the term DEI so much. It's great because it's easy to remember, but sometimes we can lose sight of the importance of each word and what they actually mean and what they represent and why it's critical for leaders to understand. We talk about diversity, equity, inclusion... I'll break it down a little bit by each word. Diversity is really about quantitative counting numbers, something that our Data Doyenne, Dr. Hoffmann, probably can talk about a little bit more down the road.
But this is about representation. And although it can sometimes get a little brushed off like, " Oh, everything's diversity," what it really means is paying attention to the numbers and looking at the representation within a particular area. Representation is really important. All of the research shows that when you have higher diversity representation within organizations, there's a host of positive outcomes from financial return on investment for the organization, increased levels of creativity and innovation, a more positive work environment where people feel more valued and feel a sense of belonging and more of a general sense of representation in terms of understanding all of the unique values and perspectives that different people can bring within an organization.
Diversity is almost like a baseline, but it's really saying, " Okay, how does the organization or the institution represent all people in terms of their best interest and the best they have to offer?" Diversity is a very important starting point when we talk about diversity, equity, inclusion. Equity is a little bit more complicated because people sometimes want to understand the difference between equity and equality. Again, both are very important, but they're different. Equality is about a baseline.
When you think about things like gender pay and people being paid the same no matter what their gender, their sexual orientation, their neurodiversity, that is all about equality and it's really important. But equity goes far beyond that because equity is the understanding that you have to create an environment that's conducive to all and it's not the same for everyone. And so a lot of times you hear the analogy of the garden. If you plant a garden and you use equality and you make sure that you give equal attention to every plant and flower and they all get the same water and they all get the same sunshine and they all get the same attention, some will certainly thrive but others will die.
And that's natural law. That is the natural law of things. If we give everything the exact same attention, it doesn't necessarily provide an environment that's the same level of conducive to success. And so equity is about creating an environment where people have what they need to be successful. I think even parents understand this intuitively. You have a couple of children and you may love them equally, but you don't treat them equally. If you have a child who needs tutoring in math, you don't say, " Well, it's not fair for this child who needs tutoring in math to get tutoring while this other child who doesn't need tutoring..." Well, we have to also give them tutoring in math because that's what they need.
And so equity is a really important and crucial principle for leadership because it requires that slow brain, conscious and purposeful intent to ensure that everyone is elevated to the best that they can be, to their highest level of potential and is in an environment that is really conducive to their success. I did want to invite Dr. Adelakun in to talk a little bit more about equity before I go on to inclusion because I know from our conversations that she's very passionate about equity and I know she would love to weigh in.
Dr. Olasumbo Adelakun: Hello, everyone. I think Dr. DeSimone has actually quite covered that comprehensively. Just to add onto what she said, an organization that's recognizing what equity is is actually looking at those differences she talked about in the population and ensuring that everybody within that organization is having equal access to all the resources within that organization such that nobody is left behind unless setting up the individuals for success at the end of the day.
As I said, she covered it comprehensively. There isn't a lot more I can add to that. Thank you.
Dr. Kimberly DeSimone: Sorry. You get excited about these things. I started talking about it and I just go, " It's like a snowball rolling down the hill." But I think you actually, Dr. Adelakun, started explaining a little bit about the shift into inclusion. And so inclusion and belonging are the highest echelon of diversity, equity, and inclusion because it's taking it even a step further, because representation is important, but it fails to address things like power, privilege and the kinds of historical context that create differences within organizations.
Please feel free other in the conversation to unmute yourself and jump in here because you know how I get. But the idea that it's more than just being there, but that you're there and that your voice is heard and that you believe and feel confident in your ability to express yourself and your perspective and your opinion, and this is that whole seat at the table, so power, pay, prestige, the ability to influence change, have an impact on the way things are doing. There's a metaphor that people use a lot, which is diversity is inviting everyone to the dance and inclusion is asking them to dance.
But I would argue that inclusion is actually letting them help decide what kind of party it's going to be. What kind of party is this? What kind of music do you think belongs in this party? What would make you love and enjoy this party because you are valued and having you at this party and having this party be awesome for you is important to us? And so when we're talking about inclusion, we're going beyond just the numbers and the numbers are important. We're going beyond policies and programs and we're looking at the real lived experience of each individual person within an organization.
And for leaders, that's the task. We have to lead all and we have to lead them well in the world and in a fair and equitable way. The highest level of leadership is ensuring the success of those you lead. And so part of that is ensuring that you're creating an environment that is reflective of the needs, but also the will and the purpose and the importance of all of the people. So being invited to the party is almost in some ways not nearly good enough because you're still being invited in as a guest.
Inclusion is not about being a guest, it's about it being just as much your party to be a part of.
Katie Macaluso: Thanks, Dr. DeSimone. Maybe this is a good time too to transition to our next question. I guess move that here. What can leaders do to ensure that DEI is more than just a buzzword in their organization? I'm going to keep that with you, Dr. DeSimone.
Dr. Kimberly DeSimone: Okay. I'm glad I took that sip of water. It's interesting because I think a lot of times diversity, equity, inclusion is thought of as an event as opposed to a fundamental mindset. When you look at it as a mindset and you think about what are the ways I as a leader can ensure that diversity, equity, and inclusion are infused throughout the entire pipeline with a new organization, so instead of it being an afterthought or saying, " Okay, let's apply diversity, equity, inclusion at the end or in response, it's about infusing it into everything you do.
In an environment like a university setting, it's saying, " How do we think about diversity, equity, and inclusion in our hiring practices, in the people who we recruit, in the ability to ensure that the campus is culturally competent in terms of bringing all of the things together that need to happen to make everyone feel included? Are we sure that our syllabus and the courses that we teach have diversity and inclusion of different perspectives and different people's expertise and who is the expert and who's at the center of the story." It's all of those things, even down to how do we make sure that a person who comes to our campus knows if they're coming to the campus or who's involved with the university anyway, knows that they are entirely welcome regardless of their faith or their sexual orientation or their religion or their ethnicity?
And so a big part of it is ensuring that you tie diversity, equity, and inclusion to performance indicators, that you create goals just like you do with other things. You create financial goals, you create enrollment goals, you create goals that are measurable and assessed within the context of diversity, equity, inclusion, and hold people accountable and leaders have to hold people accountable and they have to be held accountable. If part of my leadership responsibility is diversity, equity, inclusion, that needs to be then tied to my goals.
And so a lot of that is the assessment piece. I'm feeling like perhaps Dr. Hoffmann might want to jump in because she has the Data Doyenne after all.
Dr. Pauline Hoffmann: I was just going to begin my question. I know my question is coming up. Whenever I think about this, Dr. DeSimone, I always think about the one quote and I actually wrote it down so that I would get it right, so I wasn't going to screw this up. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, when she said, " People ask me sometimes when will there be enough women on the court, my answer is when there are nine. People are shocked, but there have been nine men and nobody ever raised a question about that." I think it's important that we stop thinking about this as a zero- sum game. When you're talking about the numbers, it's like, " Well, we've got one woman, so we're good. We've got one black person, we're good.
We've got a gay man, we're all set." We need to stop thinking. And then when Dr. DeSimone you step down, we can replace you with a woman, but we can't replace that man with a woman that just left. We need to stop thinking in terms of it being a zero- sum game and stop thinking that there aren't enough seats for everyone.
Dr. Kimberly DeSimone: Yeah, I think the scarcity versus abundance mindset is a critical component of leadership. When we approach leadership from the perspective of abundance and that there is enough and more for all to be successful and we take away the environment that makes people... because people don't behave well in a threatened environment and they're not at their best in an environment where they feel... what I like to call the lobsters in a pot. The pot's boiling and I have to get out of the boiling pot, and the only way I can do that is to crawl on top of the other lobster so that I can get there because there is only room for one to get out.
And to your point, that tokenism type of thinking is so problematic for leadership, but also it doesn't move the needle and you talk about it being more than a buzzword. The research is pretty clear on this. The evidence is pretty clear. You have to have larger numbers than one. One doesn't move the needle. If you have a board of 12, it's really 3, 4, is critical where you actually start to see quantifiable measurable changes in shifts in terms of the environment and the culture and so forth.
I think it's really funny that you should say that because I think as women we always think that way. I'm thinking, " Oh my gosh, this is a leadership and communications webinar and we're all women. Should we have had a man?" And then I think, " Well, this happens all the time," to your point. And so it's that mindset shift and that idea that it's perfectly okay sometimes, even expected and I think normalizing that, normalizing leadership as looking like all kinds of people from all walks of life so that it becomes not the exception and not notable in any way.
Katie Macaluso: Great. I'll go ahead and switch gears a little bit here and move on to our next question, which is, " What can communication leaders do to ensure the brand reflects real culture change inside and outside the organization?" I'm going to turn that over to you, Dr. Hoffmann.
Dr. Pauline Hoffmann: Thanks so much, Katie. Much of what Dr. DeSimone said in relation to what leaders can do in general is going to apply here. But I wanted to get started by reading some data, which shouldn't surprise anyone who knows me. This is from a global survey from Accenture. They've surveyed more than 30,000 professionals in 28 countries and they just released this past March. One of the things they noticed that the majority of leaders, 68%, said they felt that they as leaders create an empowering environment where people feel a sense of belonging.
However, just 36% of employees agree that that environment exists. What's also interesting is that while financial performance and brand recognition were named top priorities by a majority of those leaders, 76% and 72% respectively, 34% of leaders ranked diversity as a top priority. And to speak to what Dr. DeSimone said, there's so much research that shows that diversity and inclusion enhanced financial performance. If that's your goal, which I imagine it should be, it makes so much sense that you would pay attention then to diversity and inclusion within your organization.
Now, also according to the report, leaders are fueling a percentage or perception gaps. The proportion of employees who don't feel included in their organization is 10 times higher than leaders believe. Leaders have this perception that they're doing this really fabulous job, whereas the employees are telling a different story and it's also generational. The newest members of our workforce, Gen Z, differ widely from what baby boomers think as well. Why am I giving you this information regarding the data?
It's so critical when you're a communication leader that you understand who your audience is, you understand who your stakeholders are. You need to know with whom you're dealing. Are you talking to those who are external to your organization like the news media or government or investors and so on? Are you talking to those who are internal, your employees? You may find that you're communicating the same message, but you're communicating it in very different ways depending on who you're talking to. Now, one of the things I like to do too whenever I'm teaching a class on public relations or communication is I challenge folks and say, " Do you know what a communication professional really does?" There are so many different perceptions about that too.
You could be working in a counseling role, you could be doing research, which is my favorite, you could be doing media relations or employee relations and government... There's so much involved in communication. The first thing, though, is you have to be leading by example. Whether you're a communication leader or a leader in general, I'm looking to you. If I'm the customer, I'm looking to you, if I'm the employee, to model that... You need to be modeling that behavior for me. I'm not a fan of outages, but this one works here. You have to talk the talk and walk the walk.
If I'm a communication professional and I'm a communication leader and I'm charged with communicating that message and disseminating that message about diversity, equity, inclusion throughout the organization as well as to my external stakeholders and that's not being lived by the leadership in the organization, that's a huge problem and that's a disconnect. That's something that certainly has to be taken into account. You have to make sure, as the communication leader, you have the tools you need to share the initiatives. You need to have the initiatives first, I guess.
You can't sell, you can't talk to people about what you don't offer. What you really need to make sure regardless is that you are 100% honest and truthful. You can't misrepresent. You need to be transparent, you need to be ethical, authentic. Anything you do should be mission- driven, for sure. It needs to be strategic and data and goal oriented, so strategic and data- driven, goal- oriented, any messaging that you have. But it truly does come down to your communicating what your leadership is doing.
If I go to your website and I see that your entire board of directors is white men, that's a problem. If I go to your website and I see that your administrators, all of your leaders and your vice presidents are white men, that's a problem. And as Dr. DeSimone said too, if I come into the organization as a minority or as your diverse candidate, if you will, and you're not providing the resources to me, that's another problem. As the communication leader, you're going to need to act almost in a counseling position here, but also being the driving force to make sure that your company does have all of these tools that are going to be needed in order to drive this.
The strong commitment from the CEO and others in the C- suite is critical. You have to be in charge of crafting a narrative that, as I said, is mission- driven, strategic, that you're hitting on all... you're making sure you're honest, that you're transparent, you're ethical, that you're authentic. That's certainly key. You need to be able to measure. Yes, we certainly talk about the fact that that's not the most important thing, but how do you know you're successful? Are you going to be doing these surveys and then following up after to make sure that any changes you've implemented seem to work?
But you're really the person as the communication leader who's making sure that folks have the tools they need and you're assessing whether those tools are actually working. Some of the other things when I was preparing for this, I was looking at what are things that people are doing? I almost feel like everybody's jumping on the train like, " We have to have training, we have to make sure that people are doing all of these different things." What really is working from some of the research I found is voluntary training, people taking it upon themselves to know that they need some different tools. Because if you're forcing me and I don't think I have a problem, that's probably not most helpful.
Mentoring, absolutely being mindful of recruiting, whether you're recruiting at the college level or other levels. Having diversity taskforce and having folks who are committed as diversity managers I think is really key in some of the things that I've seen too. As a communication leader, you're doing much of what other leaders are doing, but you're the one who's disseminating that message and it has to be very honest and transparent and ethical. If you don't have the tools and if you can't communicate, then you better be part of that team that's making those changes.
Dr. Kimberly DeSimone: I just wanted to add one thing to what you were just saying, Dr. Hoffmann, about that... I love what you said about leading by example. I think it really lends itself to the way that we communicate, all the different ways we communicate. And so there's the formal communication, but then there's also the subtle ways that we communicate messaging. I'm reminded of when I was in my doctoral program and I was in a leadership PhD program. Surely, here of all places, there's going to be an understanding of the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, and leadership, understanding the importance of how that's communicated.
When you walked into the building where my courses were held, there was a wall of fame. It had 60 photos on it of like, " Look at the people that we are so proud of that represent the type of leadership that comes out of our institution." My cohort was about 60% female. And so 60% of us are women in this cohort and I look and I walk in every week to my courses and I see a wall of fame that has 47 men and 3 women and two persons of color.
And I think, " I'm trying to hear your messaging in the classroom, but I can't hear it over the screaming of this wall that tells me that I'm actually not really prepare... the way that a leader looks or is if I want to get ahead." And so I think from a leadership perspective and where communication overlaps is this idea that we are always communicating in everything we do. It can be the way we respond to what's happening in society. Do we put out a statement? Do we take a stand? Are we brave and bold in our leadership and courageous?
But it's also a little nuanced ways that we remind people in everything we do, whether or not they belong or we can really truly see them because to Dr. Hoffmann's point, you got to walk the talk.
Dr. Pauline Hoffmann: Well, thank you for mentioning that because when you were talking about the party, I was thinking, " Where's this party. I want to come to this party." But that's important too. Okay, we're bringing people on board, you're right. They're seeing your wall of fame and your wall of fame is not diverse, they're seeing other messaging. And so as the communication leader or any leader, you really need to make sure you're putting together this welcoming environment for folks because are you really... Otherwise, they're going to think you're really just trying to meet a quota like, " Okay, well, I've got my three people. That's what I was going for and then we're all set." I also loved what you said.
I wanted to point this out, that... And this speaks to knowing your audience too. As a leader, you're not going to be treating everyone equally. You're going to be treating everyone fairly, but you need to know who your employees are so you know what it is they need. It's just as you need to know who your customers are if you're a leader. How are you selling what it is you have? But you have to have it first, you're right. You need to have a better wall of fame.
Dr. Olasumbo Adelakun: Just to add onto what Dr. Hoffmann said, I suppose with communication, we have to be careful about what's called subliminal messaging. I liked the analogy of walking into a hallway with the representation on the walls because I have heard people in real life not go into organizations' websites and say, " Well, I'm not applying that." They have looked at the values, they have looked at the mission statement, but that is enough to deter people from actually proceed to applying to those organizations because of the messages behind these messages that people seek.
I just wanted to add that as well. Yeah.
Dr. Pauline Hoffmann: And something else too because you can be aspirational. So the other thing you don't want to do, again, being incredibly truthful, I don't want to go to your website and see all of this diversity and then show up on your campus or in your organization and see all the white men. You've got to be very careful. There's a difference between being aspirational and just outright lying, which is pretty well what that is and I want people to understand they need to be... You need to be truthful and transparent and ethical too in your communication.
Dr. Kimberly DeSimone: Leadership, it's so important to understand that it has to go beyond the optics. A lot of times people will do certain things that I think, " Well, that's public relations and it changes the optics, but it doesn't really move the needle." We see this a lot. One of the questions we had earlier was how do you know that you're really making change? I think what Dr. Adelakun and what Dr. Hoffmann are saying is so critical, which is the proof is in the outcomes. And so if you're saying we have all these initiatives, and I see this a lot.
We've got this policy and that initiative and this mentor program and this diversity program and so forth, and you're like, " Awesome." Then when I go and look, I'm going to go ahead and see the outcomes of that and they're going to be positive and it's like you're a little bit duped then when you go look and you're like, " Well, wait a minute, so you did all these things, but that's optics if they didn't move the needle in terms of creating the change." As leaders, we have to communicate the change we want to see and we also have to ensure that we are seeing that change and held accountable, not an attaboy for trying, but the real accountability.
The real measure of the job we do is the proof in the end and how much we've actually created a different culture and a culture that appreciates and values inclusion and that shows the change that you meant to happen when you put all these policies and programs into place to begin with.
Katie Macaluso: I think we've already touched on this almost, but I had already advanced our side to our next question, " What does that look like when an organization has successfully integrated DEI?" I think we've had a lot of great conversation on this. I know, Dr. Ola, this is one of your questions. I don't know if you had anything you wanted to add as well there.
Dr. Olasumbo Adelakun: Yes, thank you very much. I will be touching on a few things that Dr. Hoffmann and Dr. DeSimone have already talked about. How does this kind of organization show that they've successfully or organizations show that they've successfully integrated DEI? The very first thing I think would be to be living their mission and core values. And by that, I mean, again, they have to walk the talk, carrying out the things that they've promised, because lots of employees are attracted to organizations based on their mission, their values.
When they do get there, are they experiencing these things or have they been led on, because this will very quickly determine if there will be employee retention within that organization? Another point is how employee is treated in their day- to- day, have you checked this box? Are people who left out given a voice within the organization? I'll give you a very quick example when it comes to culture. Having interacted with different cultures, I have found that from childhood a lot of people, from different cultures, I have to add, have been raised, they continuously hear that children are to be seen and not heard.
You'll be amazed the number of people that carry this into adulthood such that when they come into environments like this, it still inhibits their interactions when they get into meetings, for instance. They don't believe in saying anything until they're asked in a meeting. They don't believe in interrupting because they've been raised to believe that this is rude. But for someone who doesn't understand that, they can see them as not participating in meetings. A leader who has seemingly check this box has to be aware that people have different communication styles.
Some organizations, what they will do in situations like that is have someone actually ask people who've been quiet in meetings if they have anything to say, if they feel everything they're concerned about has been covered. It's up to the leader to carry that out and make people feel included. Again, employees have to have equal access to all the resources within an organization. That's another way of ensuring that you have successfully integrated DEI.
When I say equal access for everyone, I mean regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, everyone across the board has to have equal access, that's the equity that Dr. DeSimone was talking about earlier. Equal opportunities for training and career growth, this determines retention rates. I also have to mention that with training, organizations also have to be careful because research has shown that a lot of training sessions what they tend to do is, yeah, they teach people what's expected, but information that people receive in those trainings not retained for very long.
Rather than words, we need to see action and accountability for these things to stick. Organizations need to be able to operate under transparent policies and procedures. What do I mean by this? It's not one set of rules for a group of people and a set of rules for another group of people. Everyone has to be carried along within organizations. That's how you can show that you've successfully integrated DEI. Closure of wage gaps is a big one, whether it be gaps according to gaps by gender or race.
It's not enough to say that these are things that will be looked at. But to be truly DEI integrated, those gaps need to be looked at and closed. Individuals should feel accepted and valued within an organization and feel that they're coming to work with their whole selves. I'll cite an example for you. In the last few years, there has been a lot of chatter on social media and in the news about women of color and their hair. They've been harassed and a lot has been said about their hair not being professional.
How can people who are under that kind of pressure actually show up at work and want to give it their all? There need to be policies in place where such things can be avoided and people can feel that they're in a safe place when they do come to work. There has to be diversity across all levels within the organization. What I mean by this, we have to understand that diversity can mean one thing for organization A and another thing for organization B. A lot of people when you talk about diversity, the first thing that comes to mind is the surface, but it's a lot more than that.
It's not just race. A lot of organizations have rushed into this thinking as long as we hire people from different ethnicities, we're good. It's not enough to go into an organization and look at the pyramid, the organizational structure, and see a bunch of people from different ethnicities at the bottom of that ladder. Is diversity permeated through the entire organizational structure? That's the question they need to be asking. We need to see diversity on all the levels within that organization.
Environment should be collaborative. When I say this, I say that because people need to be able to work together. How do some leaders achieve this to be able to check this box? They rotate their teams. We're human beings, we're creatures of habit. What we tend to do as human beings is we gravitate towards what's familiar, what we're comfortable with, environments that we feel safe to be ourselves. But in order to expose people to other perspectives and other cultures, knowing leaders will quite often rotate their teams so that people can have exposure to other perspectives.
We also have to remember that some people come from task- oriented backgrounds as we'll find in North America. But for some, they come from relationship- oriented backgrounds. They would want to form a relationship before they actually are themselves within that environment and the organization has to be aware of this. Also, the organization has to create a sense of belonging in order to check this box for their employees. When I say that, the things they should be looking at would be, for example, celebrating cultural holidays, for example, so the people within that organization feel that they're valued, they're able to celebrate their cultural holidays.
I even know of organizations that have prayer rooms on their premises, neutral prayer rooms so that people from different religious backgrounds can go in during the course of the day and do what they need to do. Again, safe spaces have to be created in order for employees to be able to speak to their managers candidly and in confidence and not have any fear of retribution or they'll lose their jobs, they know it's confidential. Those safe spaces need to be created in order to be able to check this box.
I also think collecting feedback from employees is important. It makes them feel valued and also checking in on them, especially in the times we stand COVID. A lot of people have just their employment as their day- to- day. They have nothing else outside of that. Imagine the difference it would make if they were checked in on just to make sure they're okay. I would like to give you life experiences of successful org, I mean, real experiences of successful organizations that actually practice a lot of this.
One of them is the Virgin Group, of which Sir Richard Branson is the CEO. He has always had a philosophy that he claims has made his organization successful, whether it be with DI or finances. What he says is that for him, his employees come first, and then the customers, and then the shareholders. He says, " If you treat your employees well and you compensate them well and you make them feel included and good about themselves, they will perform very well.
What happens when your employees perform well is they treat your customers well and then there's repeat business." The other thing he says is that, " You need to train your employees such that they can leave when they want to, but treat them well enough that they do not leave." He's a leader, he calls himself a servant leader, that is known to walk the corridors of his organizations with a notebook and a pen. He randomly stops employees to get feedback to ask them how they're doing.
It's all that inclusiveness I was talking to Dr. DeSimone about the other day, making them feel good and making them that they're part of the whole. He takes all this information back to his leadership team so that they can close gaps and fix problems or issues that there are. The other quick example I'll give you is WestJet, which is an airline in Canada. Its biggest competitor is Air Canada. But what's the difference between them? WestJet makes every single employee a shareholder. That means they have a vested interest. And what's the outcome of that?
Customer service is excellent. They all feel valued and they all feel they matter, they're relevant in the grand scheme of things. Not too long ago an organization called Bridgespan did some research and they listed three key statements which were made by employees about leaders in an inclusive workplace. I'll just tell you those. The first was, " My manager asked my opinion about the work I do. That means I'm relevant.
My manager acknowledges my contributions. My manager demonstrates concern about my success." It says it all. In a nutshell, I feel these are some of the ways in which an organization shows that it has successfully integrated diversity, equity, and inclusion. Thank you.
Katie Macaluso: Thanks, Ola. All right. I'm going to go ahead and shift gears here toward our last question. I think these presentations have been great. I think some of you may have questions in mind in terms of just if you're interested in pursuing a career in this area and maybe looking to get a master's degree, how are those master's programs able to support those who would be interested in leading this kind of change or this kind of charge? We've got faculty here who are involved with both our master's in communication and master's in leadership programs. I'm going to turn it over to them just to share just a little bit more about those programs as well.
I'll turn it to you, Dr. DeSimone, for the leadership program.
Dr. Kimberly DeSimone: Thanks, Katie. I think the first line on the slide, " Learn to live humanly deeply and well in the world," which is from the university's values translates to leading humanly deeply and well in the world for our students. I think one of the things that's most important when a person's looking at any master's program, wherever they choose, is to think about the kind of outcome they want. Almost all programs are going to give you the skills in some way, or have the similar types of classes.
But the kind of philosophical ideals of the type of person and the type of leader and the type of communicator that come out of that institution, it's really important to have, I think, a synergistic feel between your values and the values you choose. And so I think a key tenant of our program is leading well in the world. It ties a little bit to what Dr. Adelakun said about cultural competency and leading from the inside out. If you look at our first course and values, we look at our own values because we have our own set of experiences and our own unconscious biases that have been created from our experience in this world and the way we respond to the world and to the people we work with and the people we lead is a big part of our own personal experience.
And so leading from the inside out is... and good strong leadership is mindset, skillset, and toolset. The mindset is understanding that there are many different types of ideals, many different types of people who come with a host of different experiences. As leaders, we don't always have access to every one of those data points when a person we are leading is within the organization. And so this idea that we need to be mindful that other people have unique experiences, that there's different historical context, that the way we interpret the world is not the same as the way others interpret the world.
And so I think you have to look at that kind of cultural competency, that lack of ethnocentrism, which is the idea of the way you think of it, or the way your organization, or your country, or what have you thinks of things is the capital T truth, end all be all. And so mindset and ensuring that your program thinks about the mindset of the leader and the mindset of the communicator is critical. In addition to the skillset and providing the toolsets. Both Dr. Hoffmann and Dr.
Adelakun talked about you have to give people the... It's not just about having training in that, but you have to give people the resources they need. Equity is about creating an environment that's conducive to the success of all, so is inclusion. And so does your toolset include providing people who don't have the skills? I think this is really critical because when we talk about diversity, equity, inclusion a lot of the time, it's not up to diverse populations to teach you how to lead diverse populations. It's your job as the leader to go get the toolset you need, and there's plenty of resources and those types of things.
A good leadership program, a good communications program is going to ensure that people walk away, not just with new skills, but with a mindset to constantly be finding the types of tools that they need to in an ever- changing global diverse world, where you don't know who you're going to be leading and how they're going to be different. And so, again, leading from the inside out. And so you see that in... If you look at the curriculum, we look at values, we look at global leadership and the perspective of the world and the worldview.
So values is, " What do I think about how do I interpret the world? Who am I? What do my experiences bring? What are my biases? What are my unconscious biases? When do they hinder and get in the way or cause blind spots? How do I worry about me?" When we were kids and your parents or your guardian said, " Worry about yourself," sometimes this idea of leadership is, " Well, you need to go in there and get all these people to be more." And it's like, " No, you need to go in and you need to get yourself right. You got to get your own mindset right and get your own values right." And so that's the first thing you're going to do in program.
And then you're going to see that commitment with diversity classes, but also global classes, but always the idea of how is this perspective about leadership followed within the idea of the individual worth of all people and, again, leading humanly and well with compassion and an eye towards creating the most successful environment that you can for your students so that they can go out and create the most successful environment for those that they work with because that's the proof?
Again, we talked about outcomes a lot. The proof is in the outcomes, putting out extraordinary leaders who are leading humanly and well in the world and who also are creating positive changes in the world and necessary changes. I think that's a critical piece.
Katie Macaluso: Thanks, Dr. DeSimone. I know we have a number of marketers on this call as well from the registration. I also have the master's in communication program at a glance here as well. Dr. Hoffmann, I'll turn that over to you.
Dr. Pauline Hoffmann: Thanks so much. I love both of our programs. What I love about both of them in particular is that they are both grounded in ethics without any question whatsoever. The communication program really takes a look at pretty much everything I talked about that you need as a communication leader. It's grounded very much in understanding the mission of your organization, it's understanding who your audience is in an incredibly detailed way. Now, we do touch on internal audiences, but we focus primarily on external audiences and stakeholders.
We really dig into understanding consumer behavior and understanding the research behind why people choose X or Y product, or why people do A and B habit, and what behaviors they have and getting even deeper than just your regular demographics and really digging into some psychographics. So having an understanding that, " Okay, if your customers are located in this particular ZIP code, not only are they this particular male, female, gender, excuse me, ethnicity, but also they buy Jeeps and they listen to country music and they shop at Walmart or whatever the information may be." You're really drilling down to get a true understanding of your audience.
We also then are taking a look at how do you communicate to all of these different folks? There are so many different ways now. Social media and the internet has just blown everything up for us as communicators. It's not just your traditional, " Oh, let's put an ad in the newspaper and let's try and get some publicity on TV." That's great. But you also have to figure out how to use all of these other channels and have a complete understanding of what those channels are going to do for you and who's using those channels. You really do, in this program, have to understand all of those pieces.
What I think is really awesome too, at the end of this, you're going to come away with a complete campaign. Now, we do have three tracks now. We have the content marketing, the integrated marketing communication, and the public relations. Public relations is the area that I'm going to be teaching in. But I certainly teach some of those core classes too. So you're going to get the data for me, that's for sure. I promise you'll like it. It's not painful. But at the end of the program, you're going to have a complete campaign that you've done for an organization or for a group or something so that you can say, " All right, I've taken a look at everything I need for you for your communication and I'm solving a communication problem." You could do an internal campaign.
If you wanted to try to do something related to DEI or some other campaign with your employees to say, " Okay, we need to communicate that this is the culture. Let's put together this program using all of the channels we may have within our organization. Do we use email? Do we have a notice board? Do we use Slack? Do we have to have actual meetings because we have people on different shifts that may not have access to these tools?" That's something that we touch on within the program too, everything obviously going back to the mission, very strategic, very goal- oriented and very data- driven.
And that's us telling stories and that's what we do in communication. So that's the program in a nutshell related to DEI.
Katie Macaluso: Thanks, Dr. Hoffmann. I see that we've got about 10 minutes left, so I am going to kick this over quickly here to our Q& A section. I'm sure some of you may have some questions that have come up throughout the webinar. If you haven't already, please go ahead and drop those in the Q& A box and we'll try to get through a few of those here too before we wrap up. As you're thinking about what questions or typing your questions, and I did have one that I wanted to kick over to the panel to start with, wondering if you all might be able to share your top book or podcast recommendation for someone who might be interested in learning more about leading with DEI in their organization.
Dr. Kimberly DeSimone: You mean beyond the Advancing Women Podcast and the Data Doyenne Podcast that we create?
Dr. Pauline Hoffmann: self- promote.
Dr. Kimberly DeSimone: Yeah. Well, we do those podcasts because we're passionate about disseminating the information as much as we possibly can. But I would say it really depends. From a leadership perspective, I have certain authors, Joan Williams, that I love because I do focus a lot on advancement of underrepresented groups and women, especially. I look at a lot of those particular types of authors, but I work with students sometimes who have very different ideals about the type of focus of their leadership and so forth.
I think it is most important to go and try it out, go look at some podcasts, typing in keywords that are important to you and the type of leader or communicator you want to be and finding those people that inspire you because I think that that's important as well.
Dr. Pauline Hoffmann: I'll piggyback on that. In addition to Advancing Women and Data Doyenne, I'm not going to give you specifics, but what I will say, one of the things that I do is I make sure that when I'm looking at this topic, I'm looking for a diverse group of authors. I'm also looking to my colleagues. I may reach out to Dr. DeSimone and say, " What have you read recently? Or I'm trying to learn more about this, where do I get this?" I'll use certainly colleagues as resources. I may even just type that into Google, for goodness sakes, to see what comes up.
That's what our students are doing. There's nothing wrong with that. But also, I'm very much a news hound. I'm reading the paper, I'm listening to the news and hearing what people are writing about and what's top of mind. So while I'm not going to give you anyone specifically, I'm going to say please go out there and find those people who are writing, who are diverse authors perhaps and who are diverse podcast hosts and listen and read.
Dr. Kimberly DeSimone: Yeah. I would say I just really recommend Point and Counterpoint. Nothing arms you more than understanding the opposing views, your viewpoint. I think one of the most important things we need to do, and this is part of mastery and just being an intellectual person is saying, " I don't go out and just seek voices that agree with me, or co- sign personal viewpoints." Really, challenge yourself to push to maybe read the book that you don't necessarily think you need, but you absolutely need to read, or listen to the podcast that is going to help you understand at least the mindset or the vantage point, especially when you disagree with it because it will only make your viewpoint stronger and/ or open yourself up to the possibility of having a more complete viewpoint in general, at least understanding the issue or whatever you're looking at from multiple perspectives.
Dr. Pauline Hoffmann: You're here.
Dr. Olasumbo Adelakun: I think for me, I would say when it comes to mastery of leadership, for me, it would be Kouzes and Posner. They have a range of books on leadership that I think quite useful. But just like Dr. DeSimone Said, I would challenge people to go outside of that comfort zone. I find that doing that opens the mind, look at offers you wouldn't normally look at, look at bios that you wouldn't normally look at of courageous leaders, for instance, and just broaden your mind.
I think that's the first and right step in anyone's leadership journey really. We're all different, but I think it's a crucial step in the leadership journey. Just step outside of that comfort zone and learn what you wouldn't have considered learning just yesterday.
Dr. Kimberly DeSimone: And from a cultural competency perspective, read authors from other places, read authors from other countries, look to leadership globally because the way people lead and the exemplars of leadership that we're accustomed to and that we know here are very different. It's really helpful, I think, to have a bit more of a cultural competence and global perspective when you're looking at the work.
Katie Macaluso: Great.
Katie Macaluso: All good points. Our next question that came in here is, " What kind of professional background do you think is needed to get into a diversity and equity position in a corporate company?" Now, if any of you... I don't know. Dr. DeSimone, do you want to start with that?
Dr. Kimberly DeSimone: Yeah. I would say that it is one of the... I can only speak to the leadership program. Over the years, I would say that's one of the biggest areas of opportunity. We have a lot of graduates who end up in those types of roles. Sometimes they start out in leadership. It's a little bit chicken or the egg. They either start out in leadership and it becomes about diversity, equity, and inclusion because that's the way that they can best serve as a leader. A lot of times organizations are looking for a person who can bring those types of skills, the mindset, the skillset, and the toolset necessary to create the kind of environment that they're looking to create.
And of course, right now, there's never been a time I can think of where people have wanted more of that. I think there's a lot of different fields you can be into the diversity, equity, inclusion. But I, of course, am a little biased because I think it is an excellent and unique point of difference. It's just the right blend of business acumen and communication acumen aligned with this idea of leadership and leading well in the world and the responsibility and accountability of leadership and therefore of creating a culturally competent and diverse organization and/ or the types of change.
We have graduates from our program who are working with the police to have a more inclusive and more positive experience between the police and the community. We have people that are in consultancies doing diversity, equity, and inclusion in organizations. And then you have people in organizations and traditional leadership roles who are making it about the importance of inclusivity because they understand fundamentally the importance. That's my two cents on that.
Katie Macaluso: Great. Thank you. I know we're just about out of time here, almost the top of the hour. I'm going to wrap up the Q& A session here. I want to thank you all so much for attending and especially to our wonderful faculty panel for their presentations. If you have any additional questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to us. As I mentioned earlier, this panel was recorded. We'll be sending you an email tomorrow with the recording as well. Thank you again and we hope you have a great rest of your evening.
Dr. Kimberly DeSimone: Thank you.