COLONIE — The Capital Region Chamber is asking its members about diversity and inclusion in their workplaces as it ramps up its latest 2017-20 strategic plan, a core focus of which is talent development.
The goal is to use the strength of the Chamber, with its 2,600 member businesses and organizations, to help drive community growth, CEO Mark Eagan said. To do that, he said, businesses will have to seek the competitive advantage of a diverse workforce that reflects an increasingly diverse business world and society.
While the Capital Region is more culturally diverse now than it was a decade or two ago, it is less diverse than other prosperous regions of the nation, Eagan said.
(Diversity is defined in the broadest terms: race, culture, ethnicity, nationality, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, ability/disability, religion and veteran status.)
The Chamber’s goal is to promote the value of diversity at all levels of the business world, and to better understand the task, it is conducting a survey.
The basic issue, Eagan said, is “How do we talk as a business community about the importance of diversity and inclusion?”
It is an important question to answer, he added.
“If you don’t feel like you’re embraced in your company and community, you’re not going to stay here.”
Women have made significant inroads into the business world, but it is still male-dominated and heavily caucasian, Eagan said.
In the modern era, he said, such an imbalance may create inadvertent bias even as intentional discrimination becomes less common: Executives and human resource managers surrounded by people similar to themselves may make assumptions about people different from themselves without even realizing it.
The solution can be as simple as covering the top of a candidate’s resume, so the hiring team doesn’t know he or she lives in a blighted neighborhood or has a name distinctive to a particular group.
“Part of it probably is lack of awareness,” Eagan said. “Even those that want diversity don’t know how to achieve it.”
So the Chamber has involved itself, and included itself.
“Are there ways that the chamber could help others be diverse, and become more diverse itself?” Eagan asked. “The Chamber’s on this journey at the same time.”
The survey is open through Oct. 13 and is online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SBCDXTD. Businesses and organizations are welcome to participate even if they are not chamber members.
Midway through the survey period, Eagan said the Chamber had received more than 100 completed surveys, though it had been hoping for 150 by that point. It hadn’t looked at partial results to see how things were going.
Individual responses will be confidential but summaries of the responses as a group will be shared with participants.
Selected questions and possible answers from the Capital Region Chamber’s Diversity and Inclusion Survey are listed below. The full survey is online.
Does your company/organization have a formal policy or commitment statement about Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in the workplace in addition to standard EEO/ADA requirements? If no, what are the challenges or obstacles preventing your organization from developing one? Please specify.
Is Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) part of your Strategic Plan? If yes, please describe some of the goals associated with your D&I strategic focus.
What are some ways your company/organization promotes D&I efforts? Please select all that apply.
- Recruitment practices
- Hiring practices
- Employee Professional Development
- Management training
- Promotional practices
- Retention strategies
- Supplier and Vendor selection
- Philanthropy efforts
- Specific budget line-item for D&I efforts and initiatives
- Facility/office accessibility for individuals with physical disabilities
- Other: please specify
What are some internal practices/policies that provide support to your staff with a diverse background? Please select all that apply
- Employee resource groups
- Affinity groups pertaining to D&I
- Diversity council or committee
- Domestic partner benefits
- Referral process for accommodations or services
- None of the above
What areas of diversity do you include in your D&I efforts? Please select all that apply.
- Gender expression
- Sexual orientation
- Individuals with Diverse Abilities (cognitive impairments or physical/mental disabilities)
- Veteran Status
- All of the above
Do you have diversity among members of your senior management? If yes, what percentage? Diverse individuals include people of different races, cultures, ethnicities, nationalities, gender, gender expressions, sexual orientations, ages, individuals with diverse abilities (cognitive impairments or physical/mental disabilities), religions and veteran status.
Do you have an individual who manages or directs D&I efforts within your company/organization? If yes, what is person’s title, who do they report to and what percentage of time does the individual dedicate to D&I efforts?
Which areas create the greatest challenges/obstacles in advancing D&I? Please select all that apply.
- Lack of resources; time and/or financial
- Lack of management support
- Lack of a diverse candidate pool
- Lack of training and internal expertise
- Other: please specify
- How best can the Capital Region Chamber assist you in your D&I efforts? Please select all that apply.
- Facilitating forums with other area businesses
- Networking events
- Awards recognizing businesses with successful D&I efforts
- Other: please specify
Would you be interested in participating in potential forums discussing D&I?
- Yes, please keep my contact information on file should future opportunities present themselves.
- No, I am not interested at this time.