Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Business

Industrialist experts discuss why diversity, equity, and inclusion have become such significant topics in almost all major corporations, and how diversity provides numerous benefits to an organization. The Great Resignation: How to Elevate the GBS Brand to Attract Top Talent?
Jana Vondran

Jana Vondran

Senior Vice President of Global Business Services, Ingram Micro
Pamela Tyler

Pamela Tyler

Vice President of of Credit and Collections, Medline
Michael van der Steen

Michael van der Steen

Vice President, GBS, Plan to Invoice, adidas
Jason Lewis

Jason Lewis

Director, Mid-Market Sales, HighRadius
Download Slides

Session Summary:

Takeaway 1
Diversity and Inclusion are not just about moral obligations, but it’s also good business sense.
Key Points
  • Recognize what’s working well and what’s not in the organization, as well as the associates’ experiences
  • Implement diversity and inclusion initiatives to gain complete visibility among a diverse group of people
  • Learn by getting in touch with various people by understanding their backgrounds
Takeaway 2
What are leaders doing to recruit, develop and retain diverse talents in their workforce?
Key Points
  • Promoting diversity and inclusion so that high potential people can participate and represent their talent in various activities
  • Encouraging inclusion because it allows people to learn about certain assumptions or stigmas held by others
  • Enhancing the mindset by understanding, what the people are experiencing by getting in touch with them
Takeaway 3
How far is an inclusive world, and how do we get there sooner?
Key Points
  • Be open-minded and connect with others because everyone has something to teach you
  • Inculcate initiatives that support diversity to facilitate the formation of a genuine and effective team
  • Use additional conversation tools in the workplace can help in the construction of a productive team
Show More

Jason Lewis 0:01
All right, well, thank you really, we’ve had a lot of dialogue up to even before we got on stage. I was just all ears hearing experiences around this particular topic. So I’ll start with the first question. And yeah, I want you to talk to me, right. So, you know, why do you think diversity, equity, and inclusion have become topics of discussion in almost all major business events in the last few years?

Jana Vondran 0:35
Yeah. So from my perspective, I mean, again, I think diversity and inclusion have been a subject. But as you said, like much more maybe in the shadows of many companies, I mean, there was always something but never, I think why it’s been over the last two years, much, much, much really like a focus topic. It’s multiple things. On the one hand, we do have a generation new generation coming in, which is very much aware of how things should be running. And I think also, with just social media and the transparency it creates, it also gives a lot of younger people much more voice than maybe we had in our generations, right. So kind of like, again, younger generations always want to see a change in society. So that’s, I think that’s definitely a point. And then, of course, I mean, again, we’ve seen, you know, the killing of George Floyd, that was a major event this year in the US, and I think it kind of ballparked also float down into other enter globally. But yeah, so I think it’s really a lot of things that came together where we couldn’t close our eyes anymore. Right? It’s transparent. And have you seen some of the videos that are now so easy, everyone has a phone and everyone can record? And so we can say like, oh, well, maybe there was a reason? No, there’s not. Right. So we have is much more in our phases. And so we as corporations have to really ask ourselves, have we done enough to even know what’s going on with our associates and what they are experiencing? So that’s, that’s where like, it’s just really a lot of things coming together, transparency generational, and it’s just bad. There is no accountability.

Jason Lewis 2:12
Absolutely. Thanks for sharing. Pamela, anything you’d add to that?

Pamela Tyler 2:16
No. I mean, I think she hit on a lot of it. We were talking about it behind the stage. And I think it’s always lurked under the surface. As she said, I think, as tragic as the George Floyd incident was, I do believe it created this global outcry. And there clearly was a commonality there, right, people realize people are human, it doesn’t matter what color you are, it doesn’t matter what gender you are, right? We’re all human. We all bleed. We all, you know, it’s all the same. And so I think once that happened, companies realized they had to do something, and they needed to be present, and they needed to be front and center. And they wanted people to know visibly, that, you know, they cared about diversity and inclusion, and they wanted to opt into their organization to represent, you know, a diverse group of people.

Jason Lewis 3:10
Absolutely. I mean, let me go to Michael. Now, he was worried about these comfortable-looking chairs, he was scared that his jet lag would accelerate there. Yes. All right, come back. All right. Michael, anything you’d add to that topic?

Michael van der Steen 3:23
Yeah, I think for me, me personally, I’m, I don’t know how it’s about you. But I’m a big fan of Formula One. And my drivers, Lewis Hamilton, and Lewis Hamilton are of color and he’s the only version of color actually Formula One. But he’s a seven-time world champion. And in the past two and a half years, he’s really asked a lot of attention for inclusivity in the sport, right? And how do you make that happen? And I was fate doesn’t, and in our company, we really believe that that is highly important, also for the athletes. So we’re in a stadium right now. And one of the things that we’ve done is, for example, the US female soccer team, they get the same money as the male soccer team, right. So you have to make a start in closing the gap. And that is with people of color, that is with gender, that’s with all the areas, you need to make sure that you actually close that gap. And I think for us, that’s one of the key elements. And that was already happening before some of the things that happen here in the US, but also in other countries, of course. And what I personally find really interesting is that I asked him earlier, so I’m not from the US, right? And there were two years of lockdown. So what was the experience here? What was the experience in the US and is it different from what you see in Europe, there are the differences? And to realize that by talking to people that are different from you, I think that’s what makes you richer as a person. So for me, that’s why it’s so nice to meet, you know, different people different Going into backgrounds because you can learn from that.

Jason Lewis 5:03
I appreciate that. So getting a little closer to like your teams, you know, when is there ever been a person, maybe on your team that, or even personally that you’ve experienced something that made you identify, you know, diversity, equity, and inclusion as being a must-have. And if you don’t mind sharing, you know, an anecdote around the same. And I’ll start with Pamela.

Pamela Tyler 5:32
I don’t know that. I can say I’ve experienced that with someone personally on my team. But I can, I will say, I think it’s important for a whole host of reasons. As far as the business specifically, if you don’t have diversity, then you have a single point of view. You walk into an organization, you walk into a meeting, you’re not generating any level of creativity if you don’t have different opinions if you don’t have people from different walks of life. And our discipline in particular is a back-office function. So there aren’t a lot of opportunities for people in these positions to be front and center for them to have visibility. And so if you promote diversity and inclusion, and you’re actually having activities and things of that nature, where you have high potential people who can be front and center, they can participate in a way that they otherwise would not be able to, it creates opportunity, it builds talent, it gives you the opportunity to see people in a different light, where they otherwise would not be able to. And I think that’s important for people to feel like their organization supports that, that their organization has some type of roadmap for them to be able to step outside of what they normally would do, and be seen and heard by leadership.

Jason Lewis 6:55
Absolutely. Couldn’t agree more, what about you Jana?

Jana Vondran 6:58
So I don’t know, I mean, person, maybe a little personal story. So I grew up I mean, again, this is maybe for Americans, that doesn’t mean much, but up in East Germany, and so when I first started my career, there was a stigma coming from the east side of Germany after the wall came down. And so I don’t know if it’s a diversity thing. But it has always, for me, inclusion has always been a very important fact because I record or I experienced people having, you know, certain assumptions or stigma attached to where you’re from. And that had nothing to do with my capabilities, skills, or really my background. And so it’s been always an important piece. But I do want to kind of come back at the last two years. So as a company at Ingram, we installed listening sessions, and I thought that was very, very powerful. So our executive leadership was actually holding these listening sessions where we would just get on the phone for an hour with Associates, and have them tell their stories. And I think it was a huge eye-opener for many of us. Who didn’t recognize that, you know, what your colleague that, that you have to colleague here, and you think, what are those things that you see on TV that you’re reading? Those stories don’t happen to them, but they are telling, you know, the moment you know, I’m leaving the campus, and I’m driving out, I do get stopped by the police, you know, unnecessarily and aggressively. And so, and we did this worldwide, which was also an interesting because, Michael, I agree, right? It’s there were differences on how things were used here. And when you actually doing it globally, there are, there’s racism, there are stigmas, there are biases all over the world, it just looks slightly different in whatever country you are in. And starting to have that conversation and listening to people who are on the minority who are on the, you know, outside and hearing their stories was very, very powerful. And was that to us, opened a lot of eyes and ears and actually the need to say like, look, we need to do something? This is important.

Jason Lewis 8:59
And yeah, those listening sessions, I’m curious, was that one on one? Jana.

Jana Vondran 9:03
No. So it was usually like 10-12 people. Okay. You know, and again, one was leaders who just asked a few probing questions, but to actually get the conversations and they just started sharing.

Jason Lewis 9:15
That’s awesome. Right, Michael, how about for you?

Michael van der Steen 9:18
So what Jana just mentioned, we did that as well. We actually globally did over 40 hours per person of interaction. And we made sure that our teams were talking about the topic and sharing information with each other. But there’s also a personal side of this, right. So and that was just sharing that with the team as well. And I’ll keep it a bit you know, more unanimous because or not share names here. But last week one of, I called him my friend and also a very dear colleague, but he got attacked because of his color right. And these things are happening. So we need to take this seriously. It’s not got a small topic, it’s a big topic. It’s affecting how he is in life. He’s got a young daughter, a wife. And it’s important that we take care of these things, and that we take care of each other. I’m privileged, right, I’m privileged from where I was born, I privilege, my color. But not everybody has that privilege. So we need to understand, and I need to understand what they are experiencing. So what I did myself was when, you know, Black Lives Matter started, I took the initiative to coach two people in my team, one from Zimbabwe, and another one from Mexico. And I really tried to learn from them. So not just coaching them and helping them in their career. Also, to learn from them, what are they experiencing, because I don’t know what they’re experiencing, right. And once you start to understand that it really touches you as a person. And then once you get that, once you understand what others are experiencing, I think that’s when you make a change in your mindset. And you take that first step on a very long and difficult journey that we all have to make, which is a journey to equality for everybody, right? Because that’s what we need to do as a society. It’s bigger than business, it’s about taking that first step, every single one of you takes the first step, today make a decision, I’m going to talk to people in my team who are different than I am, and I’m going to learn from them, and spend that half an hour every two weeks, it’s not that big of an investment, right. And that’s how you learn. So I invite everybody here that some you know, on the field, make that step, take that decision for yourself and learn from it.

Pamela Tyler 11:38
I just want to add to I think that’s important because we had a panel at work. And it was basically open conversations with a black man. And it was a panel of all black employees in different positions within that line. And the first step is people have to be open to having a transparent dialogue, and not be on the defense, right? Because that’s how you learn and understand what people are experiencing. What a man of color experiences in their day to day life is very different than what a white man may experience. I was explaining to them. I had I have a team of people that work in IOM, and I was driving there. And I got pulled over on this back road for speeding. Unfortunately, I was speeding to speak. But the officer was very confrontational. And he started asking me all these questions about what I do for a living and demanded that I turn my radio down. And I’m listening to the news and it wasn’t even loud. But I immediately thought about Sandra Bland. This is what I was explaining to them, and how the police officer asked her to put her cigarette out when she was in her car. And she responded in defiance. Like, you don’t get to tell me to put my cigarette out. Now I could have been defiant. But I didn’t. Because it just wasn’t that important to me. But it does make you press pause. Like, I’m not sure why you’re being aggressive right now with me. I’m not sure why you’re asking me what I do for a living. But I can assure you, they would stop someone that wasn’t of color and probably not even has gone there and not mandated all of these things that were really irrelevant to what was happening at the moment. So I do think it’s important that people understand people really do get treated differently. It is not you know, that’s not in their imagination. It is real, and it happens every day. But you have to be open to listening and talking to people to understand their point of view and why people react or respond to things the way they do. Because I think it would explain a lot.

Jason Lewis 13:41
And then also, you know, as you’re listening to that individual, you have to make it safe for them to continue to unbox how they feel or their experiences. I had a leader I was at a conversation with maybe a month ago that really questioned if the team felt, you know, emotionally safe to share. And I think that’s very important. And it made me think about that, and really taking inventory and understanding if I’m sharing properly. So I appreciate you sharing that personal experience.

Jason Lewis 14:11
So I got one more question. This question is for Michael. So diversity brings many advantages to an organization, right increased profitability, more creativity, better governance, you know, different ways to solve problems. What would you say? Are some of the potential impacts be personal or business-oriented of not having diversity?

Michael van der Steen 14:34
Yeah, I have a nice example there, I think that I can share. So I remember two years ago, I was in France with friends. And I had to do a test, which was a logic test. And I was practicing and doing the logic test and I got on a scale of 10 You had to score above a six and I was scoring six and a half and I’m kind of competitive. So I was like, this is not enough. Right? So Okay, so I was talking to a young girl 17. And she’s still in high school. And I said I don’t know how to actually do this. Can you do the test? Right? So she did the test. And she scored a 95. Right? So of course, I’m not really happy about that. So like, okay, apparently she knows something that I don’t. So her IQ is higher than mine. But then I asked her, How do you approach this? And then she started to explain that to me. And then when I read it, the test I had an eat, right. So it’s also about when you open up to other people, which are maybe unexpected, right? You can still learn, everybody can teach you something. I think that’s what’s really important. The mindset is that anybody can teach you something, your Uber driver can teach you something right. I was having over here with my Uber driver. And he was saying, Actually, he believed that the world is becoming a better place in the sense of how we share with each other because of social media. So because of social media, you actually understand better what’s happening in Europe, and what’s happening in the US, and what’s happening in Asia, than you ever did before. Because the fact of the matter is in the US, for example, yeah, only 1/3 of people in the US have a passport. So how do you learn about what’s happening outside of your country, not by traveling by social media? So that’s a very interesting concept. We take the opportunity to learn because you know, every meeting is an opportunity to learn and create new friendships. So if you keep that in mind, I think that’s going to change your life.

Jason Lewis 16:38
Thanks for that, Jana.

Jana Vondran 16:39
Yeah. So, again, to me, let’s maybe also just approach the topic. So we talk about diversity that we see by it a lot. It’s but to me, really, when it comes to creating a team of real, you know, well working in its teams, you know, social circles, whatever. But it’s really about diversity of thought. And similar to what Michael, you know, shared in his story, it’s really about, yes, people come with different backgrounds. But it’s not just that you take a box, yes, we look different. It’s truly about they come with different experiences, and backgrounds, and that makes people approach topics differently. And as you said, I do I’m a big believer in diversity, and increasing creativity solutions, because as we are all coming with a different approach to it. That’s what makes us stronger. I mean, hey, I like myself, but I wouldn’t want to have a team of all, I know there would be a lot of limitations there. So it’s truly about creating these teams that have different approaches that think differently that bring, therefore, so many additional tools, to the conversation to the organization, that that’s really what needs to happen.

ason Lewis 17:46
Absolutely. Pam, how about you?

Pamela Tyler 17:49
I agree with everything they’ve said. But I do think it is definitely not about just checking the box, we also discussed that. And it’s also about doing other things outside of, you know, just saying, well, we’ve done this as an organization like, are we actually taking actions? Are we stepping outside of ourselves? Are we going out of our way to make sure we’re, our behavior mirrors what we’re saying? Right? Are we outside of the organization? Are we trying to build our supply chains? Where are we tapping into smaller minority businesses? Are we giving them an opportunity to come to the table and build their business, expand their businesses, you know, if I’m, you know, a black woman, and I’m interviewing for a job, and I walk into a company, and all I see around me are white men? Am I gonna feel like that’s a safe environment? Am I gonna feel like that’s the organization I want to join? Or if I walk into an organization, and I see a multitude of people of color, white people, you know, Hispanic people, black people, am I going to feel like that’s a safe environment? Probably so, whereas otherwise, it wouldn’t. And so I think companies have to just not talk the talk, but they have to walk the walk. It’s not just about saying the right things but doing the right things. Absolutely. Get it to your feet, right. All right, let’s give a huge radiance. Thank you to our panelists, thank you all so much, that was amazing.

Enjoyed the Session?
Here are some other sessions you might be interested in

Credit & Collections: Payment Acceptance, Training and Staff Benchmarking
David Schmidt

David Schmidt

Managing Director, A2 Resources
Radiance speaker's company logo
Finance Leaders Against The Great Resignation: 5 Things You Must Do To Retain Your Winning Workforce
Carolyn Etress

Carolyn Etress

Director of Accounts Receivable, EBSCO
Radiance speaker's company logo

Experience the Power of AI-Enabled Receivables
& Treasury Applications

Schedule a free demo