It’s no secret that Sikich is in the midst of rapid growth. And rapid growth means we have to continue to attract and retain talented professionals. To meet our recruitment goals, it is critical that we place our diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging strategy at the center of our growth plans. But how can an organization of our size approach a robust, formalized DEIB program? The answer? A fantastic DEIB leader.
As we continue to grow, our people-first initiatives are our top priority. I recently sat down with Dimitri Wilder, our diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging leader, to discuss what he makes of the future of our organization, our lofty goals and how he plans to help us get there. What follows are highlights from that conversation and what truly resonated with me.
Strategizing for DEIB
Dimitri first pointed out that a diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging program must be supported by three core pillars if an organization hopes to accomplish what it sets out to do in this space:
- Comprehensive training and development curriculum and opportunities
- A robust and thoughtful DEIB communications program
- Strategic and diversified recruitment efforts and targets
Once these pillars are in place, an organization can begin to build on them to develop a unique program for its people.
Training and Development
Ensuring everyone in an organization feels heard, comfortable and accepted means equipping people with the tools to succeed. When everyone has an opportunity to be heard, the organization is practicing inclusivity. One of the more critical components of this approach is educating our teams on the “why.” If people don’t understand the reasons an organization is prioritizing DEIB, it’s not realistic to expect their buy-in and involvement. When establishing a DEIB strategy, the first step is to educate people on why the organization is placing so much emphasis on it and why it’s important to the culture.
This effort includes training leaders and team members on accepting others no matter their differences. It means overcoming biases and knowing how to interact with all community members in the workplace, regardless of backgrounds, perspectives or roles. Boiled down to a simple concept: it’s engaging everyone from a place of respect.
Because much of this training can be new or seen as overwhelming, it’s often easier taught in small, collaborative groups. Dimitri’s plan for this training includes a variety of cross-functional small group sessions, video trainings, breakout groups and in-depth, in-person educational sessions.
DEIB Communications Platform
This pillar is grounded in the need to capture stories and experiences from all team members, especially underrepresented people. It’s crucial to celebrate what makes everyone unique. This recognition is how we connect with communities and populations unlike our own.
When representatives of Sikich speak about our organization with candidates and potential recruits, the way in which our team members talk about our organization and its culture must reflect the messaging of our DEIB strategy. An organization can’t expect to find candidates with diverse experiences or backgrounds if it’s not telling the same story and striving toward the same goals.
Without clear, comprehensive DEIB messaging incorporated into all facets of a firm’s talent acquisition process, the organization risks thinning out its candidate pool. Inclusive messaging demonstrates to prospects and clients from all backgrounds that they are welcomed and respected at Sikich. A core part of Dimitri’s role is to build a strategic collaboration among the leaders at Sikich and the diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging practice.
A strategy that targets a diverse recruitment pool is reflective of an organization’s diversity efforts. We can’t get from A to B without investing resources into A – meaning, we can’t expect to hire candidates from diverse backgrounds if those candidates are not aware of the openings or, even, our company.
We pride ourselves on being inclusive, but we plan to ramp up our inclusive recruitment efforts by increasing our collaborations with organizations and schools with diverse member or student populations (e.g., LGBTQIA+ organizations, historically Black universities). These intentional efforts can help our organization cast a wide net to reach talented candidates from a variety of backgrounds.
When examining our current recruitment strategies, we have to challenge the markets we regularly target. We can do so by looking outside our typical candidate pool – even scoping out candidates in other industries or fields with transferable skills. Candidates whose resumes don’t check each and every box on a job description shouldn’t be immediately disqualified for the role. Rather, we can seek to understand their strengths and the missing areas the role requires that they could potentially learn with on-the-job training.
Building something meaningful and, ultimately, sustainable doesn’t happen overnight. It’s developed over time with investments from cross-functional groups and leaders, inclusive of the entire organization. It’s done deliberately and thoughtfully. At Sikich, diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging is a journey, not a destination or a box to check. I’m excited to have Dimitri on board to share his expertise and push us forward on this important journey.