Congrats to this year’s winners of CTHRA’s Excellence in HR Awards. The Cable and Telecommunications Human Resources Association honorees have led the way in developing successful employee learning programs, maintaining clarity during two years of confusing merger talks and prioritizing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Team Innovators of the Year

ESPN’s Diversity, Inclusion and Wellness team won the Team Innovator award for its Diversity and Inclusion Playbook. This online learning program contains useful tools to help employees and managers create an inclusive workplace to improve collaboration and productivity. The program was so successful that it was adopted by The Walt Disney Company and was featured as a best practice in diversity and inclusion by the Society for Human Resource Management. “The integration of diversity and inclusion into HR processes and practices is imperative to fully generate culture change and drive business outcomes,” said Monica Diaz, vp of diversity, inclusion, and wellness for ESPN. Key areas for diversity & inclusion integration include “talent acquisition, performance management, talent development, employee engagement, total compensation and retention programs,” she said. Diaz said HR practitioners “must become increasingly proficient on matters of diversity and inclusion—from core metrics to rapidly evolving expectations of current and future employees. New or revised policies and practices may be needed.” Lastly, when asked about future trends in diversity and inclusion policies, Diaz said it will be less about compliance and more about leadership. “We should expect a higher level of transparency in the conversation about diversity and inclusion—about metrics, goals, and initiatives,” she said.

Q&A with Monica Diaz, vp of diversity, inclusion, and wellness for ESPN:

What is one common diversity or inclusion problem that HR departments can easily fix?

The integration of diversity and inclusion (D&I) into HR processes and practices is imperative to fully generate culture change and drive business outcomes. It is not an “easy fix”, but certainly a rather common need and opportunity across many industries. The D&I function can be part of the HR department, as it happens in most organizations, or report directly to the CEO. In either case, diversity and inclusion perspectives and metrics need to be an integral part of talent acquisition, performance management, talent development, employee engagement, total compensation and retention programs.

What advice would you offer to other HR departments trying to revamp their diversity and inclusion policies?

The focus on diversity and inclusion has evolved from being policy-driven to being a strategic business imperative. This categorical change positions diversity and inclusion as a core element of leadership and a driver of innovation and high performance. As business partners, HR practitioners must become increasingly proficient on matters of diversity and inclusion – from core metrics to rapidly evolving expectations of current and future employees. New or revised policies and practices may be needed. Based on business opportunities and talent strategies, each organization must identify the areas of diversity and inclusion where it wants to be contemporaneous with industry players and areas where it wants to lead the industry.

How do you see nation-wide diversity and inclusion policies changing in the next few years?

It’s less about compliance and a lot more about leadership. We should expect a higher level of transparency in the conversation about diversity and inclusion – about metrics, goals, and initiatives. This includes candid discussions with middle managers, to purposefully move from knowledge to understanding of how changing demographics require a different business approach with employees and customers. It is imperative to lean into the disruptive nature of evolving current practices to build a new path for future success.

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