20 ‘guiding principles’ to ensure a diverse and equitable corporate culture

Corporate diversity pioneer Bernard Kinsey offers his time-tested tips for creating inclusive workplaces.

20 ‘guiding principles’ to ensure a diverse and equitable corporate culture
[Source images: polesnoy/iStock; VPanteon/iStock]

As an executive at Xerox, Bernard Kinsey helped launch the National Black Employees Caucus, believed to be the first-ever employee resource group. He went on to serve as chief operating officer and cochairman of Rebuild Los Angeles and now serves as president of KBK Enterprises, a management consulting firm. Here he shares his guiding principles for corporate inclusion:

  1. Change starts with the CEO/chairperson.
  2. Your corporation/organization should look like the communities you serve.
  3. Document and track every aspect of your program, tie performance/employment to achieving objectives. (What you expect you must also inspect.)
  4. Conduct exhaustive surveys by EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) designation to determine salary and position equity. Identify and examine shortcomings and develop solutions. This will solve inequities among all protected classes within the organization.
  5. Ensure/monitor that every position opening has a Black candidate.
  6. Identify and break up “white islands,” i.e., all-white groups of decision-makers.
  7. Ensure that there is a pool of Black candidates in your management program, and provide mentorship.
  8. Encourage and support involvement in company EIG (Employee Interest Group) groups to amplify voices and affect change, both inside and outside of the organization.
  9. Fund your EIG (Employee Interest Group) groups properly and encourage their participation year-round, not just during cultural heritage months. The support should also come from the top down, to empower their initiatives.
  10. Do not simply categorize Black employees under the umbrella of “diversity, minority, or “people of color,” as the issues facing the Black community are distinctly different.
  11. Ensure that Black women are represented equally in workforce gender equity.
  12. Develop and provide training programs for Black students/employees in all facets of your business and monitor for success.
  13. Monitor philanthropic giving. Ensure that your foundation gives to Black nonprofits at a level equal to or more than that of other organizations. Create “Loaned Executive Programs” to support the growth of Black nonprofit organizations.
  14. Develop partnerships with HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges & Universities) to create a recruiting pipeline for internships and job opportunities. Apply your distinctive competence to their needs.
  15. Buy from local Black businesses and vendors.
  16. Hire Black consultants, business professionals, contractors, attorneys, designers, etc.
  17. Provide seed capital for Black-owned startups.
  18. Ensure that a percentage of capital goes into financial institutions that serve Black communities.
  19. Adopt local under-resourced schools and provide technology grants toward learning labs, laptops, tablets, and Wi-Fi.
  20. Acquire/commission Black art for your offices.

*Added point: Ensure that racial discrimination complaints are treated with elevated seriousness [as you would cases of] sexual harassment and gender discrimination.