DEI and Compliance | Thomas Fox – Compliance Evangelist

Welcome to a special five-part blog post series on the New Traliant, sponsored by Traliant, LLC. Over this series, we will discuss key issues that Traliant is helping to lead and define the online training industry in going forward. I will visit with John Arendes, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), on what is new at Traliant and what the Department of Justice (DOJ) has communicated to the compliance community regarding its expectations around online training and communications; Maggie Smith, Vice President of Human Resources, on the role of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in your corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) program; and Scott Schneider, Head of Content Development, on your Code of Conduct and anti-corruption training. In Episode 3, I visit with Maggie Smith to discuss the intersection of DEI and compliance.

Smith began that DEI in the workplace is a step past non-discrimination and it is seen as taking things beyond simply “checking the box” to follow the law. She believes the business argument for DEI is that a diverse team allows for better problem solving, better decision-making, more innovation, creativity, and ultimately more success. It is also about ensuring that your organization is about “accepting diverse workers and making them feel included.”

She sees inclusion as one step beyond diversity. She described it as “we’re having this party, we will invite you to the party, but inclusion is, do you want to join us and dance at this party?” A company can have this type of approach to creating a diverse and inclusive culture by considering all the processes that DEI touch. At Traliant one of the ways the organization does so is making sure that we hire not for just a culture fit, and by bringing in different people and then making sure that we’re giving them a voice throughout the process throughout their entire employment. Smith went on to explain that DEI goes beyond a ‘culture fit’ by creating a ‘culture ad’. She noted that culture fit could really be a mirror of our biases, as we are comfortable around people who share our demographics, our same socioeconomic background identities. It could be termed as a “mini-me”. Culture ad moves you to considering “what can this person add to our culture instead of simply asking do they fit into our current culture?”

Smith went to say that by using such an approach you can also facilitate a true speak-up culture at your organization. The power is that you get so many great ideas that may be overlooked. But you have to build trust. Your organization must really work hard to consistently create a psychologically safe workspace where people will feel comfortable speaking up. You can begin with an anonymous inbox, where employees could message through a website that preserves their anonymity with any questions. From there you can move to town hall meetings where employees are trustful enough to raise questions.

If questions are raised, the HR Department or compliance function needs to promptly review and potentially investigate a matter. From there, you should take corrective actions when needed and you absolutely must close the feedback loop with employees. Even if the response to a suggestion is that it cannot be implemented now, employees will respect your speak-up process. Smith termed it “closing the feedback loop.”

It is this entire system of feedback, from employee to employer and back, creating a system of trust which can be such a powerful driver of culture in an organization, through embracing DEI. This system of trust allows someone to literally raise their hand and speak up. From there, employees trust that their comments will be fairly evaluated and trust the company to use that information. Whether it is an investigation or looking at doing something a different way, an employee has trusted that the people who were told will get back to them in some form. This creates a dialogue that can be ongoing to benefit the entire organization.

Join us for our next episode where we look at Code of Conduct training.

Check out the full podcast with Maggie Smith here.

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