Diversity Roundtable

NJBIA’s Diversity & Inclusion Roundtable Seeks Input for Best Practices

Fifteen human resources and diversity experts met at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Teaneck campus this morning to discuss their diversity and inclusion (D&I) successes and challenges.

Spearheaded by the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) and FDU’s  Petrocelli College of Continuing Studies, the intent of the roundtable and its partners is to develop a toolkit and white paper of D&I best practices and solutions so that businesses of all shapes and sizes can realize the many benefits of diversity in the workplace, including its positive impact to the bottom line.

According to NJBIA President and CEO Michele Siekerka, “This roundtable will help inform us so that we can be a better advocate for businesses and be proactive on social issues that impact businesses such as gender equity and D&I.”

Siekerka commented that many companies know adding more diversity and inclusion is the right thing to do for the good of their operations, to go along with the many external pressures coming from activists, shareholders, consumers, the supply chain and especially the workforce.

“The next generation of workers wants to work with companies that are mission driven. It means that you have to care about giving back to the community, the environment, that you provide the opportunity for diversity of opinion and that everyone is heard around the table,” Siekerka said. “If you want to attract the best and brightest graduating from our great institutions of higher education, you want to make sure your workplace practices are creating the type of culture they are attracted to.”

Some recurring themes during the discussion included:

  • Increasing diversity and inclusion should be looked at as an opportunity for business, not extra work.
  • Maintaining a diverse and younger workforce is about making sure each individual feels valued on a daily basis.
  • There are sometimes challenges in trying to blend an employee’s personal values and interests in the workplace with the needs of an organization.

The takeaway of the morning’s event was that everything points to a company’s culture, Siekerka said. “It’s about the right culture in your organization that people want to be a part of. At the end of the day, when you have a good solid culture in your organization – top, down and bottom – and there is transparency and good communications, all of these other social issues will work themselves out. However, if businesses do not lean into where society is heading today in terms of what the work environment needs to look like, one of two things will happen: You are not going to recruit the best and the brightest; and you are asking government to step in and mandate things that you should otherwise be doing because these are the things that are not just right, but they also have a good return on investment.”

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