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Why Every Business Needs a Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Plan

ColorComm founder and CEO Lauren Wesley Wilson on why having a diverse team can make your company a stronger, more capable force for growth.

In the wake of a massive social movement with Black Lives Matter, businesses large and small are looking to hire more diverse members to their teams. But it's not just for optics — having a diverse team with people of different races, upbringing, socioeconomic status, and different ways of thinking makes your company a stronger, more capable force for growth.


No one knows this better than ColorComm Founder and CEO Lauren Wesley Wilson, who has been advising companies on recruiting, retention, and inclusion for the past 10 years. She started ColorComm in May 2011 as a luncheon series to bring together women of color in communications. "I started ColorComm at age 25 while working at a publicly traded communications firm where I did not see any persons of color in leadership," Wilson explains. "I wondered how I would advance if I didn't see anyone who looked like me. I soon learned that other women faced similar challenges in their work environments feeling like they were the "only one of color at their companies,' and feeling alone and misunderstood in their companies."

Today, the ColorComm Network has grown into a national professional membership organization with chapters in places like Washington DC, New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and London. It recently launched ColorComm Search, a recruiting site for leading companies to post open positions to hire multicultural talent. "In our industry, we often hear recruiters share that they don't know where to find multicultural talent," Wilson says. "We are pleased to connect our existing community of over 100,000 professionals with ColorComm Search."

Wilson believes that all companies should prioritize inclusion and include hiring as part of a proactive plan rather than reactive plan. She says a strategic diversity and inclusion plan should include internal and external practices. Internally, a company should ask: Is there a path for multicultural talent to get promoted, manage teams, and oversee budgets? Do multicultural talent feel part of the team and their voice heard and respected? External themes should focus on: What is our company's reputation among diverse communities? Do we have an authentic connection to the diverse audiences we serve, do we understand their needs and wants?

"We need diversity of all backgrounds inside corporate America if we want to better understand the clients and stakeholders that we look to reach with our product or service," Wilson says. "Companies deliver better results when ideas come from diverse ways of thinking."

Here, Wilson shares three tips for how companies can effectively prioritize hiring multicultural talent.

1. Partner with diverse organizations that house talent.

Having an existing relationship with organizations that already house talent help to keep the lines of communication open when recruiters are looking to hire. Wilson suggests that businesses plan and develop a budget that allows for this type of partnership.

If your business is in communications, marketing, advertising, or media, Wilson says working with an organization like ColorComm Network can be the perfect partnership for hiring multicultural talent.

2. Allocate a budget for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

Wilson recommends developing a strategic DEI plan that addresses internal and external needs as well as the changes that the company will measure after one year. From there, she suggests creating a six- to seven-figure budget, depending on size of the company.

"Oftentimes, DEI initiatives don't have a budget and have to go through a series of approvals for each line item," Wilson says. "Creating a budget for these initiatives enables the plan to become action-oriented and measurable, which yield effective results."

3. If you can, hire a Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer.

Having someone whose chief responsibility is managing the hiring and retention of multicultural talent, means someone at your company is directly responsible and accountable for seeing this initiative through. Wilson suggests that this person should have a team, budget, and report directly to the CEO.

The Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer needs to have direct access to the CEO to make effective change," she says. "This is not a job that can be done in a bubble."

Click here to learn more about ColorComm. Click here to learn more about ColorComm Search.


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