The New ROI - The Return on Inclusion

By Carla Grant Pickens, IBM Global Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer
June 1, 2021

A year after George Floyd’s killing as a pivotal moment and example of the need for racial inequity and justice have become a key focus for society and the workplace. Discrimination and racism continue to challenge diverse represented groups in the workplace. In society today, diverse and faith-based groups are also experiencing an increase in hate, violence and discrimination for which we must continue to speak up for those who are being marginalized.

Recently, at IBM we’ve seen examples of our Black employees and Asian employees standing up and sharing their experiences of racism in society, as well as focusing on identifying ways to counteract racial inequities both internally and externally. We have listened with empathy and learned what lived experiences our diverse communities face in their daily lives and how discrimination affects their performance.

Organizations should realize the cost of how discrimination and perceived racial inequity in the workplace affects their bottom line.  According to a recent Marketwatch article, the five-year price of turnover from workers leaving jobs because they didn’t feel treated equally or didn’t have equal opportunity for career advancement is $171.9 billion.

To combat discrimination in the workplace, race equity needs to be a business imperative.

In addition to the start of June PRIDE month, today IBM celebrates the one-year anniversary of Emb(race), the campaign highlighting our social and racial justice efforts. Emb(race) is both a call to action and organizing principle that began with a pledge empowering IBM and IBMers to call for change to ensure racial equality.

The campaign has become one of the most significant catalysts for coalescing IBMers around the most urgent priorities where our technology and platforms can address issues of bias, racism, and social injustice across race and ethnically diverse communities.

We have taken significant, tangible actions in our social justice efforts driving progress for the Black community. And now one year later, we are scaling our efforts to our other race and ethnic based communities.

Employees with various race and ethnic groups want solidarity, allyship and social justice and employers should aim to build an inclusive workplace culture – one that fosters accountability. Race Equity should make diverse employees feel psychologically safe in the work environment and that they are treated the same as anyone else in the workplace.

Author Robert Livingston said in his Harvard Business Review article, “fairness requires treating people equitably which may entail treating people differently.”

While IBM has been a leader in corporate diversity and inclusion for decades, we look forward to 2021 and what lies ahead in inclusion with our continued commitment and legacy for fairness, equality and equity for all.

 

Carla Grant Pickens
Global Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer