Innovation & Inclusivity: Prioritizing Psychological Safety in the Advancement of Women of Color

About a 3 min. read

Jen Perry
AVP, Sales

Last week, WIRe (Women in Research) hosted an event with a diverse panel[1] of women who shared their experiences on the mental and emotional demands Women of Color deal with in the professional world. They also touched on the progress made and what additional needs must be addressed, along with a call for companies to reflect on the unique needs of their diverse teams, and the importance of adapting company culture to help support the advancement of Women of Color.

Key highlights of the conversation included:

  • Positive Progress: There is an increased awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion and intentional recruiting efforts to acquire diverse talent, especially among the younger generation. Yet, there is a need for genuine and effective diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives that involve grassroots efforts and support from the top down. Panelist Dana Kim, Founder/CEO at Highlight, shared that what her organization has done to address this, is set hard goals and implement diversity and recruiting training. They have also taken steps to ensure that their leadership team is diverse, and they have pipeline targets to achieve diversity in all roles.
  • Leadership Representation: The importance of representation at the leadership and board levels is critical and it sets an example for the rest of the organization. Serving a new generation of clients means connecting with individuals from diverse backgrounds, and leveraging data and awareness to create spaces that previously did not exist.
  • Areas of Improvement: One of the first missteps mentioned is treating diversity and inclusion as an optional choice rather than a fundamental part of an organization’s culture. The speakers emphasized setting core values prioritizing diversity and inclusion, and ensuring the organization understands and respects them. The speakers noted that when an organization falls short in diversity, taking steps to address those shortcomings is crucial. Setting targets for interviewing a diverse pool of candidates, tracking scores related to inclusion and psychological safety in employee action surveys, while implementing changes that align with the organization’s values is critical. Recruiting a diverse workforce takes longer, and there may be tension between staying true to the organization’s values and meeting shareholder expectations, but the return on investment is greater.
  • Focus on Values: Often there is pressure to focus on diversity and inclusion from a superficial or external perspective rather than addressing internal issues first. The speakers noted that digging deeper and educating the company should be prioritized before making external changes to celebrate diversity and inclusion.
  • Be You, Be True: The panel ended by offering advice for someone starting in the corporate world or their younger self.
    • First, asking for what you want is important. Do not be afraid to ask for what you deserve.
    • Instill confidence in yourself and fighting for your value is essential.
    • Do not worry about blending in. Standing out is your superpower, so own your identity and embrace it.
    • Find people who can help you excel within the organization and look for sponsors who can open additional doors. Once you feel seen and heard, you will gain more confidence and be able to show up more effectively in your career.

Overall, the participants recognized the progress made towards embracing diversity and inclusion but acknowledged that there is still more work to be done regarding genuine and effective DEI initiatives and achieving representation at all levels of organizations. At CMB, DEI is central to our values because we know it has a lasting impact on our colleagues, clients, and community partners. The highlights mentioned during the event are actions CMB is initiating or working towards. Together, we support our differences so that we can feel comfortable bringing our whole selves (or as much of it as we want to) in the workplace.

Learn more about our CMB’s commitment to DEI and review our DEI report.

[1] The panel consisted of Sima Vasa (Advisor/Entrepreneur, Infinity Squared Ventures), Dana Kim (Founder/CEO, Highlight), and Rebecca Vega (Marketing, Product Development & Innovation @ Function of Beauty).
Jen Perry
AVP, Sales