14 Jan 2022

Are You Walking the Talk of Diversity Investment or Kidding Yourself?

This fall, I moderated the 2021-2022 Economic Club of Minnesota season kickoff panel with three of the Midwest’s most successful diversity and inclusion specialists:

  • Dr. Paul Campbell, Co-founder & Managing Partner at Brown Venture Group
  • Dean Sri Zaheer, University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management
  • Mark Irvin, Chief Inclusion, Diversity and Talent Officer at Best Buy

The panelists showed candor and transparency. The conversation was engaging, thought-provoking and exposed practical advice for both communities of color and those not labeled in that way. Combining their sage advice through my lens as an executive coach, here are action steps for leaders and organizations to make inclusive investments:

Develop human potential: Make sure everyone feels comfortable, included, and is allowed the ability to bring their whole self to work. Bring diverse perspectives into all rooms where decisions are made.

Create a culture of acceptance: Help people feel they belong and are respected for their unique viewpoints. Coach leaders to connect in a deep way, which leads to engagement, which leads to productivity, which leads to business success. Everyone likes the color green (for money).

Shift the thinking: Partner and co-create together. Move from doing for communities of color to doing with communities of color. This line from Dr. Paul Campbell was one of the highlights of the session for me and for the audience. Ponder and bring it into your worlds.

Build long-term relationships: Find new people and companies to invest in. Share your insights on how you do things so others can learn from you. Be intentional and committed to the future pipeline of working together on services or products.

Abandon “White Guilt”: Guilt is a wasted emotion. The panel and audience breathed a collective “ah” (or was it horror?) when I asked the panel advice for white people and everyone about how to handle white guilt. Check out the session video for how they each gracefully and passionately answered this question.

Take your gifts to communities of color and stay for a conversation about the complexity of issues. Proximity leads to relationships, which leads to trust, which leads to growing economies together. We must achieve understanding and respect at the micro level in order to make inclusive investment a reality at the macro level. Watch the entire panel conversation here

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