Rhonda Crichlow

Although she recently assumed responsibility for Charter’s Community Impact function, which centers on philanthropic investments and employee volunteerism, Crichlow still oversees companywide diversity and inclusion initiatives. She believes in a holistic approach and recently piloted a program that educated midlevel and higher leaders to better understand the business side of diversity and inclusion. “No one program is a silver bullet for diversity and inclusion,” she says. “In fact, organizations should shift their focus from viewing D&I as a program or an initiative to making it part of the way the company and its employees think and behave.“

What does your company/organization do to ensure all employees feel included?
At Charter, we strive to create an inclusive environment where our employees feel valued, respected and empowered to deliver great products and services to support our customers and serve our communities. We believe it’s important to approach D&I holistically—across all functions and at every level of the organization. We rely on our leadership to establish the tone and demonstrate organizational commitment to D&I.     

Since launching our strategy in 2018, this year has been an important one in terms of our efforts to foster inclusion. We recently completed an educational pilot program designed to help mid-level and above leaders understand the business case for D&I; we launched a Business Resource Groups pilot program, where employees with shared characteristics or interests can network and engage in activities that advance professional growth and contribute to business success; and we also introduced an internal speaker series, Charter Inclusion Talks, which is designed to raise awareness and educate employees about diversity and inclusion.

We have increased our focus on inclusion as we realize that diversity AND inclusion are critical for sustained business impact and success.

Can you share a successful diversity program at your company or one you’ve observed at another company or organization?
No one program is a silver bullet for diversity and inclusion. In fact, organizations should shift their focus from viewing D&I as a program or an initiative to making it part of the way the company and its employees think and behave. Organizations that have been most successful tend to develop a strategy that is focused and clearly aligned with core business objectives. Of course, strong senior leadership engagement and accountability are critical to success, too. It’s also important to identify clear goals that are time-bound, and the related metrics to measure success. Failure to measure progress precludes an organization from understanding what it is doing well, and makes it difficult to create room for new opportunities for engagement.

I would also suggest that organizations focus on a few key areas of opportunity that, if addressed properly, will result in sustainable business practices that can transform your organization’s approach to achieving its goals. Addressing a myriad of issues, rather than focusing on the opportunities that will enable you to drive sustainable change, compromises accountability and the ultimate impact of the D&I function.

What questions is the industry not yet asking in its efforts to be more diverse and inclusive that it should be?
While D&I enables companies to foster supportive organizational cultures that leverage diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives, a few key questions we should ask collectively and as individual companies are: Do we fundamentally believe that D&I are critical to support business success? If so, what does success look like? Do we really understand what it will take to not only achieve success but to sustain it?

Many companies are investing heavily to advance D&I within their organizations, but often when you assess impact, and in particular sustained impact, the outcomes are less clear. I think an honest conversation around the above will help organizations and our industry better understand where the challenges and opportunities reside, and put plans in place to drive change.

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