Making DE&I a Habit, not just a Moment

by Carson Miller

The challenges of 2020 have led to greater intersection of everyone’s personal & professional lives. It has been the year of outcry, as many have faced limited in person social interaction, changes to ways of working and a social justice uprising.

As part of this uprising, diversity, equity & inclusion was brought to the forefront of conversations across corporations. This was not something new to me, as I had been working to lead IBM’s Communications Market D&I Team. However, the first action I took this summer was listening. Listening to black colleagues & peers share their stories reminded me of the power of personal experiences and how that needed to be the basis of enhancing the strategy for the Communications Market.

The consultant in me then kicked in, and along with Sarah Davison we approached the topic like that of any engagement: Data Collection, Analysis & Solutioning. As part of the data collection process, we remained focus on the driving force of DE&I — the people and as such anonymously surveyed the market to understand as many perspectives as possible. With the support & engagement of Roger Hasson, we synthesized data developing an Action Plan for the Market with a key piece being around education & engagement and a goal to connect with the broader team on this topic on National Diversity Day.

Thinking about the best way to leave a lasting impact & create sustainability, it was clear that an outside speaker and leader on this topic should be engaged. Enter, Harvey Floyd II, an organizational psychologist, senior executive coach & university lecturer who specializes in diversity and inclusion. Lucky for us, among his many held positions he is a mentor of mine from my time at The University of Pennsylvania. After a few conversations about our market & approach Harvey agreed to speak for National Diversity Day.

The event occurred on October 2nd, as kickoff to National Diversity Awareness Month and left IBMers of all band levels inspired. Harvey wove in IBM’s longstanding history of inclusivity with historical events from the civil rights movement to present time. Folks shared that this context of the company made them proud to be IBMers. The event didn’t stop there as Harvey led the market through an interactive exercise thinking about one’s own social identity and how different aspects can be brought to the workplace. If we can each uncover our own identity and the strengths of our background combined with IBM’s culture than our team can accelerate innovation & inclusion. He built on the concept that individuals & their stories are the basis for DE&I and that there is so much more than race to diversity. I ask you to think about “how you can better leverage history and current reality with an eye toward innovation…to deliver on IBM’s promise of appreciating diversity?”

As we move forward with this work, we are excited to engage in conversations with our colleagues and highlight different aspects of diversity, equity & inclusion. Further, we look forward to sharing the developed action plan, expanding our team and making this initiative sustainable. It can not just be a reaction to a moment in time to make impact.

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