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Diversity,  equity and  inclusion: From strategy to practical execution with Baker Tilly and Oracle Cloud 

Authored by Brad Fisher

Your employees are your organization. Providing an inclusive culture for your team members is a critical first step in achieving their happiness, increasing their productivity and their desire to remain with the company. In the long run, of course, having happy, productive employees who stay with the company is also an outstanding formula for profitability and financial success.

Companies generally understand the importance and value of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), but of the participants in a recent collaborative webinar with Baker Tilly and Oracle, roughly 75% came from companies with a DEI program that is still maturing.

How to approach  diversity, equity and inclusion 

As Oracle’s Nancy Estell-Zoder, Vice President of Product Strategy, noted in the webinar, the COVID-19 pandemic created a culture of isolation that lasted for many months (and in some senses still lingers today). As a result, we all have felt a lack of inclusion in some way, shape or form over the last 15 months. Perhaps more than ever, it is critical for organizations to empathize with this loneliness as they promote a culture of inclusivity and acceptance for all team members.

Baker Tilly, for instance, recently added “belonging” to our firm’s list of core values. Theresa Nickels, General Counsel at Baker Tilly, who leads our DIBS (Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging for Success) committee, describes belonging as: “We foster a deep level of mutual respect where each one of us feels seen, heard, valued and connected. We commit to a diverse and inclusive workplace upheld by fairness, compassion and equality.” Simply put, we want all of our team members to feel that sense of belonging and to bring their authentic self to the office (or the virtual office) each and every day.

At Baker Tilly, we understand that people and their experiences are unique, and we want to not only incorporate this uniqueness into our organization, but we want this diversity to have an impact on the day-to-day decision-making and the everyday life of our employees and, in turn, our business. In short, we want our firm to benefit from our diversity on a daily basis.

How do you define DEI success? 

Baker Tilly defines success in the DEI space from two perspectives – quantitative and qualitative.

From a quantitative standpoint, we want to measure whether we’re increasing our representation of people of color, of women, and other diverse groups – both in the firm as a whole and particularly at the leadership level. From a qualitative point of view, we want to ensure that everyone in the organization feels like they have an equal opportunity for success. With this in mind, Baker Tilly has developed several key initiatives over the years that comprise our DIBS structure, which includes GROW (Growth and Retention of Women), SOAR (Supporting Opportunity, Advancement and Recognition) and NexGen, which is focused on joining workplace generation. We also have a variety of team member networks that are “for team members, by team members.” Some examples of these are PRIDE, which shines a spotlight on our LGBTQ team members; Moms for Moms, which allows parents to connect and share valuable resources; and Read to Lead, which focuses on the sharing of leadership-driven books and articles.

Examining that inclusivity (and figuring out how to track it) is the key to determining success qualitatively. But how do you track which team members are being invited to key meetings and client outings? Or whether or not team members are feeling engaged? The bottom line is that it’s difficult to track these factors, which is why Oracle launched  Oracle Journeys. Oracle Journeys is an employee experience platform that enables HR teams to excel at their job while offering the level of regular guidance they need to support a diverse array of team members living their lives and doing their jobs in a variety of unique ways.

Ensuring inclusivity and belonging  

Beyond basic diversity metrics, Oracle offers a variety of solutions to help promote diversity and encourage companies to put a priority on diversity, equity and inclusion. For instance, Oracle recently introduced  Opportunity Marketplace  aimed at providing all employees at an organization with equal transparency regarding new opportunities.

In fact, that serves as a key reminder that DEI initiatives are not just about hiring practices. An organization, after all, can only hire so many people. Diversity, equity and inclusion is also about growing and retaining talented team members across different demographics.  Oracle’s Strategic Workforce Planning  solutions allows organizations to create and compare scenario plans to easily identify skill/competency gaps and to strategize about how to close those gaps for needs of the business while considering the needs of the workforce.

Lessons learned  along the way 

DEI work is never done, but Nickels offered a key lesson that she has learned in her years as a leader of Baker Tilly’s DEI platform. “Get comfortable with the fact that the pace of change will make you uncomfortable,” she said, adding that there is important work to be done from a DEI standpoint at many organizations and typically organization leaders, want these changes to take place quickly. But, Nickels noted, these changes take time.

There are many layers to DEI, so these critical changes and improvements in your organization are not going to happen overnight. It takes time to get complete organizational buy-in. It takes time to fully understand the needs of your team members. You may even need to hire an outside firm to take an unbiased look at your organization from top to bottom. But with the right assistance and the right partners, your organization can in time get to where you want to be and where you need to be.

Grow your organization’s DEI initiatives  

DEI initiatives are a priority business strategy that encompasses many functions and initiatives for organizations of all sizes and types. Organizations must respond and evolve with programs targeting candidate pools, internal talent pools, and strategic workforce planning, to name a few. Admittedly, these cross disciplinary initiatives are not the easiest to deploy, and measuring their success can be challenging. This is where technology can be applied to not only enable these programs, but to provide for the data, metrics, analytics and benchmark comparisons to allow for deeper understanding and improvement over time.

Oracle Cloud can be a tremendous tool to build, grow and measure your DEI initiatives. Baker Tilly is proud of our strong relationship with Oracle. With more than 100 dedicated Oracle professionals across our firm, we have performed more than 350 cloud implementations throughout the practice, making Baker Tilly one of Oracle’s top strategic implementers. Together we help clients leverage business data to strengthen their software investment, drive impact and improve their employee experiences by modernizing and optimizing their HR strategies, processes and technology.

Contact us today to learn how your HR tech can help you grow your DEI initiatives 

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