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The Champion Forum Podcast

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Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast! Diversity requires commitment, planning, and continuous learning. When you invest in creating a diverse culture, it will help you innovate, increase revenue, attract and retain talent, and appeal to a wider customer base. In this week’s episode, I interview Brandon Harvey about the benefits of diversity, the reasons people do not achieve a diverse work environment, and how to create and lead a diverse team.

"If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective." - Martin Luther King Jr.

About Brandon Harvey

Brandon has worked for 8.5 years in the Fortune 500- space, 3 as a sales representative, 3 as a manager, and 2.5 as the Vice President of Sales. He is a leader of leaders and has developed a reputation for developing promotable employees. He is the Diversity Champion for over 900 people in his organization. Brandon credits much of what he learned to his mother and grandmother and his experience as a high school and Division II basketball player.

What does it take to go from entry-level employee to VP in 8.5 years?

It takes a lot of resilience. I learned a lot of resilience from the sports I played, and I used that to my advantage. Everyone has a story; everyone has a situation that they have gone through that has taught them perseverance. It’s your ability to tap into that perseverance that sets you apart. You also have to be a leader, not a manager. Your love of people has to shine through in every situation.

Why do companies struggle to achieve a diverse workforce?

The main thing is unconscious bias. An unconscious bias is something that you are doing that affects others, but you have no clue you are doing it. It’s hard to overcome that bias because your natural response is to protect yourself and your understanding of how you think.

Q: Give an example of an unconscious bias you have recognized either in yourself or in someone else. How did it affect the way you/they worked and interacted with other people?

How do you get past this?

Everyone has to get past their past. You have to be self-aware and honest about your experiences and surroundings in the past and how they shaped you. Think about the future that you want for your team or company, and honestly evaluate how diversity will help you make it happen. make it real to you by looking at the data and finding the training you need.

1. Recruiting: This is where it all starts. The methods you use to attract and recruit talent usually tell the story.

2. Leadership Development: Leaders need to be trained on how to manage diverse candidates and build diverse teams.

3. Culture: In order to have diverse teams, you need a culture that can accommodate retaining diverse candidates and personalities.

Q: Which of these areas do you think your team or company does well? Which one do you need to grow in? Why? What benefits do you think you would see if more time was put into that weak area?

How do you respond to people who are hiring for the sake of diversity?

I am looking for a team of 10 that will take the team and myself to new heights. I’m not necessarily looking for the 10 best individuals. If you create a culture of winners, they will all leave. When you establish a diverse culture, you establish relationships. You have to take a holistic look at where the team and the organization are going.

The value of bringing leading contributions to the organization.

You have to be passionate about diversity. If you do, you will have a 36% better chance of being promoted because of the network you’ll build. Get involved. Speak the language of your senior leaders by showing them the benefits of diversity and the strategy your organization should take.

As a leader how do I begin to diversify my team? What do I need to know?

1. Get to know your people. Use your 1 on 1 time to know and understand each individual.

2. Address your past experiences with diversity.

3. Set short term goals based on what you need to diversify.

Q: Are diverse identities, ideas, and ways of thinking and working valued in your organization? Why not. Describe a time when you saw diversity in your team. How would you describe it? How did it affect your problem-solving or day-to-day operations?

Application Activities:

  1. Invest in your understanding of diversity and its role in building a successful organization. Commit to reading one book (or listening to one audiobook) on the topic over the next four weeks. If you can, schedule some time to reflect on the takeaways from the book with your team or mentor.

  2. Take a look at your hiring process. Do you have a plan to create a diverse team starting with your applications? You can start by removing unconscious bias from your job descriptions, taking names off the applications before you decide who you want to interview, and asking the same interview questions to each person. If you want to increase your company’s diversity, you can also start by strategically interviewing more candidates who match the type of diversity you feel like you are missing women, Hispanic people, Black people, etc., and then choose the candidate that best fits. For example, if you are going to interview ten people, interview seven women and three men until you eventually achieve greater diversity. As always, make sure you are following up with the recruiter to make sure they are following through with the plan.

  3. Establish a mentorship program to grow diversity. For example, match female interns with a female employee to mentor them and help them navigate the business world. Match Hispanic interns with a Hispanic employee, Black interns with a Black employee, and so on. Beyond just giving interns a mentor, consider reaching out and specifically creating internship programs for minorities. This will feed qualified candidates into your hiring process and help them understand and more easily overcome the hurdles and challenges their mentors faced.

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