We have the pleasure of speaking with Kim Clark, a renowned expert in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) communications. Kim shares her experiences and expertise in building high-performing teams that mirror the customer base. Through her insights, we will explore the importance of recognizing privilege, the need for intentional communication, and the impact of DEI on business outcomes.
Recognizing Privilege: A Key to Building Elite Teams
Kim Clark emphasizes the significance of acknowledging privilege in our personal and professional lives. She explains that privilege refers to the advantages and benefits we receive based on our identities and the systems designed to cater to those identities. Kim highlights the importance of understanding privilege, stating, "Privilege is successful by not being acknowledged. Acknowledging it, talking about it, being more aware of it...goes into data and understanding how other people are having a different experience."
Kim further explains that privilege is situational and can vary depending on the context. She shares her own experiences as a cisgender woman, a gay woman, a mother of children with disabilities, and someone with Native American heritage. Kim also acknowledges her white privilege and the privileges that come with it. She emphasizes that recognizing privilege is crucial for creating inclusive teams and fostering a sense of belonging for all employees.
The Game-Changing Realization: Integrating DEI into Communication Strategies
Kim Clark's career has been shaped by her passion for integrating DEI into communication strategies. She highlights a game-changing realization she had during the Pulse tragedy in 2016. As an internal communications leader at GoDaddy, Kim received numerous emails from employees expressing their grief and distraction following the mass shooting at an LGBTQ+ dance club in Orlando. In response, she organized a virtual vigil, providing a safe space for employees to grieve and process their emotions.
This experience highlighted the importance of integrating DEI into communication strategies and creating a supportive environment for employees. Kim emphasizes the need for organizations to go beyond perfunctory statements and take meaningful actions to address the needs of their employees. She states, "It's the proof points and following up with actions that are actually meaningful to employees. And having those listening...that's what builds trust."
The Business Impact of Inclusive Teams
Kim Clark addresses the skepticism some leaders may have regarding the business impact of creating inclusive teams. She emphasizes that organizations must recognize the link between DEI and business outcomes. Kim highlights two significant business impacts: attracting top talent and staying relevant to customers.
Firstly, she explains that organizations that fail to embrace DEI will struggle to attract a diverse pool of candidates. Kim states, "You're going to have a hard time finding the people that are going to want to work with you." In an increasingly diverse workforce, organizations that prioritize DEI will have a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining top talent.
Secondly, Kim emphasizes the importance of mirroring the customer base. She explains that organizations that do not reflect the communities they serve risk missing out on new markets and revenue generation. By embracing DEI and understanding the diverse needs of their customers, organizations can stay relevant and innovative.
The Framework for Building Elite Teams
Kim Clark provides a framework for leaders to build elite teams that embrace DEI and mirror the customer base. She emphasizes the need to own the organization's role in DEI and embed it into processes. Kim states, "If you want diversity, equity, and inclusion as a result, it must be part of your process. It doesn't happen by magic or accident at the end. It must be strategic and intentional throughout how you do the work."
She also highlights the importance of creating psychological safety within teams. By fostering an environment where employees feel safe to express their ideas, provide feedback, and address concerns, leaders can drive innovation and performance. Kim emphasizes the need for leaders to listen and act on the feedback received, as this builds trust and strengthens the team.
Conclusion and Future Outlook
In conclusion, creating elite teams requires leaders to recognize privilege, integrate DEI into communication strategies, and embrace the business impact of inclusivity. By acknowledging privilege and understanding its impact, leaders can foster a culture of inclusivity and belonging. Integrating DEI into communication strategies allows organizations to address the needs of their employees and build trust.
Furthermore, leaders must recognize the business benefits of embracing DEI. By attracting top talent and staying relevant to customers, organizations can thrive in an increasingly diverse and competitive landscape. The framework provided by Kim Clark emphasizes the importance of embedding DEI into processes and creating psychological safety within teams.
As we look to the future, the need for inclusive and diverse teams will only continue to grow. Organizations that prioritize DEI and mirror their customer base will be better equipped to navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. By embracing DEI, organizations can truly become elite teams that drive innovation, performance, and success.
"If you want diversity, equity, and inclusion as a result, it must be part of your process. It doesn't happen by magic or accident at the end. It must be strategic and intentional throughout how you do the work."
Note: This article is based on a conversation with Kim Clark. All quotes are verbatim from the transcript of the conversation.