On July 21, the Salt Lake Chamber’s Diversity Council hosted a webinar entitled “Getting Your Diversity and Inclusion Program Off the Ground: Bringing HR and Legal Teams Together.” The online event discussed how companies can create diverse and inclusive workplaces while complying with the law. The webinar’s panel was moderated by Shawn Newell and featured Neelam Chand, Marie Kulbeth, Maria P. Tamburri, and Troy Williams.

Diversity Council Chair Shawn Newell opened the discussion by introducing the panel of legal and diversity experts. Each panelist is a skilled diversity leader at their organization with experience turning good intentions into results.

Neelam Chand, CEO and Founder of Shift SLC, provided an overview on the current state of Diversity and Inclusion efforts. She highlighted the popular acronym: DEIB — Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging — and said it is a useful way to remember the essential aspects of creating a more inclusive community.

“It’s really important to center DEIB in the work that you do as an organization,” Chand said. “Doing so creates an environment in which all are welcome and feel welcome as they are.”

Additionally, implementing DEIB policies in the office also boosts business. According to the McKinsey & Company Diversity Wins report, ethnically diverse leadership teams are 36% more likely to be profitable, and companies with diverse boards are 43% more likely to experience higher profits.

Despite these benefits, organizations can face challenges and barriers when trying to implement DEIB, Chand explained. Most of the challenges are rooted in fear and misunderstanding.

“There’s this misconception that DEIB is political,” Chand said, “And this lack of awareness gets organizations to constantly react rather than prepare.”

Marie Kulbeth, COO and General Counsel of SixFifty, spoke of barriers in the legal sense. For example, surveying employees can lead to companies becoming liable for the information they collect.

Luckily, there are solutions to these problems and obstacles that stand between inclusivity and diversity in the workplace.

“Ask questions anonymously,” Kulbeth suggested. “You never know what’s going on in your workplace if the conversation is not open.”

Organizations can also look into local programs and resources that are well-equipped for training that supports DEIB guidelines. For example, Chand’s company Shift SLC is a diversity and inclusion consulting company whose mission is to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.

If outsourcing is not an option, there are internal solutions as well. Maria P. Tamburri, Director of Diversity and Inclusion and Employee Engagement at Dominion Energy, said the way her company found success was by implementing Employee Resource Groups, which are voluntary, employee-led groups that foster a diverse, inclusive workplace.

“The resource groups give employees opportunities to share their own experiences,” Tamburri said.

Another step local businesses can take to embrace DEIB values is becoming Business Equality Leaders. This certification is offered by Equality Utah, an organization that provides platforms to underrepresented groups in Utah, and demonstrates a business’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Troy Williams, Executive Director at Equality Utah, explained that their certification process approaches training with mutual respect and empathy to help businesses build and retain diversity using the DEIB model.

“There is nothing more American than DEIB.” Williams said. “We strive for a more perfect union, and that’s what I see DEIB doing.”

To wrap up the webinar, Newell thanked the panelists for their comments and the audience for their participation. Finally, he encouraged all business leaders to utilize the provided information to achieve DEIB in their workplaces.

Watch the event below.

If you would like to learn more about how you can get involved with the Salt Lake Chamber’s Diversity & Inclusion efforts or have a suggestion for an upcoming DEI webinar, please contact policy@slchamber.com.