David R. Barnes, Co-Founder, Managing Partner, and DEI-Performance Consultant
Although we celebrate May 21st as the World Day for Cultural Diversity, Dialogue and Development every year, most companies today are still figuring out why diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives are essential for business. Cultural diversity in executive teams translates the efforts of the employees to increased profitability and value creation. The stark and penetrable reality is that D&I programs are no longer “nice to have” but they are absolutely key to business. As such, it’s high time organizations pause and radically rethink their D&I initiatives.
Driven by the mission to facilitate the sustainability of social innovation within organizations, Diversity Inclusion Equity Group amalgamates business growth with an optimal inclusive and diverse culture. By helping enterprises celebrate every employee’s contributions without prejudice or bias, the company offers straightforward, no-frills yet effective services to enable the development and implementation of the right D&I strategy.
In an interview with Manage HR's editorial team, David R. Barnes Jr., Co-Founder, Managing Partner, and DEI-Performance Consultant of Diversity Inclusion Equity Group, discusses how they empower enterprises to gain a sustainable competitive advantage in the market with their Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity training, coaching, and consulting services.
Could you shed light on the inception of your company?
The need to help an organization with its D&I endeavors manifested as an opportunity that sparked the genesis of Diversity Inclusion Equity Group. In the past, I partnered with officials from global organizational consulting firms and various other companies. Owing to the events that occurred over the past summer and what we have observed in the last 20 years, we can say that even with all the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) interventions, not much has changed in the boardroom. To this end, we decided to come together as a group, along with other external resources, to create our unique vision around how to bring about change in organizations that go beyond the traditional training on biases and D&I and ingrain our principles in organizations to drive long-term sustainable results.
What are the major pain points companies face today?
The pain points that our clients encounter today follow along a continuum. At one end of the continuum, there are people who've been caught off guard as a result of the events that occurred in the last year. Companies are now taking a hard look at their culture and internal processes before diving into DEI training programs. Their recruiting processes for talent sourcing, onboarding, and succession planning programs aren't up to snuff. We analyze the areas of strengths and weaknesses and understand where they stand from a DEI standpoint by identifying whether they have a high-touch culture or open communication in place.
At the midpoint in the continuum are companies that have a program, but it might be all over the board. Case in point, we are currently working with a company that has affinity groups that are not established from the D&I standpoint but just for better communication within the organization. After attending a training session on open communication, they have now realized that they have serious D&I issues and must address them.
On the other end of the continuum are companies looking to enhance what they already have in place.
While companies are keen on their DEI endeavors, we continue to be at the helm to propel them toward success
They have a good program and understanding of their DEI goals, affinity groups, and high trust levels among employees. Now, they are keen on transitioning to the next level and marketing their programs to draw diverse talent to their organizations. As such, these companies always focus on enhancing the inclusion side of the equation.
Could you elaborate on your service-delivery methodology?
We begin with an interview process that starts from the top-down. First off, we gain a basic understanding of our client’s culture and operations from our primary contact. We then conduct a series of interviews, starting with senior leadership followed by middle management and then the rank and file throughout the organization. The purpose of these interviews is primarily to figure out the critical issues and focus on one spot in the organization on one level to understand the viewpoint of each group. In the next step, we gather information from the interviews and assessments and determine the critical issues. We, then, create a high-impact, cost vs impact grid for the company to discern the problems they need to mitigate first.
What, according to you, steers you ahead of the market competition?
We are a team of strategic partners, coaches, and consultants who have come together as a company. One of the overriding themes underpinning our organization is that each of our team we work on what we love and have a high level of expertise in. With over 35 years of experience in sales, I work on the business development side of the company. We have ample resources and people with deep-rooted expertise who we can count on to address any challenges faced by our clients at any level. We don't want to look back on the people we’ve worked with to see they have regressed or in the same problematic situation. This leads to another overriding theme that drives our success—creating a win-win situation for ourselves and our clients.
Could you cite a customer success story?
We helped one of our clients, a healthcare company—that was looking to determine where they stood in the diversity continuum. Before we set out to help them, we decided to lay the groundwork for the engagement. Back then, the employees in the organization were not open to LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning) and refrained from sharing that information. To this end, we conducted a 360-degree survey within the organization to understand the diverse categories of employees and obtain raw demographic data. We also held interviews to drill deeper and gain an in-depth understanding of their situation. Finally, we discussed with their executive team to help them understand the situation better and put together a plan to hire more LGBTQ talent.
What does the future look like for your company?
While we go through various initiatives to keep our pipelines full, we primarily focus on defining our ideal customer base to deliver the highest quality solution and benefits to them. Many companies are either understaffed or challenged with an insufficient budget in the current DEI program. They require efficient change management initiatives that facilitate the implementation of DEI strategies. Further, effective change management requires a thorough understanding of the change readiness and resilience of the organization as well as the trust and communication level shared among the management, executive team, and employees. While companies are keen on their DEI endeavors, we continue to be at the helm to propel them toward success.