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Leveraging Diversity and Inclusion for Engagement and Innovation™

An interview with Linda Stokes, lead developer of PRISM’s next step manager diversity/inclusion training program Leveraging Diversity and Inclusion for Engagement and Innovation™

Editor: We know the world continues to flatten and that business today is about competing globally for talent, supplies and customers.

Linda: That’s right – so for organizations as well as individual people managers, positioning yourself to attract top talent, resources and customers is the key to success.

Editor: If the world is flattening and sharing the resources available – including top talent – and if positioning yourself as an individual people manager is key to meeting business results, what knowledge and skills do managers need?

Linda: It’s no secret that diversity/inclusion is a change management process. If applied correctly, diversity is one business lever that helps organizations and individual managers make sense of their complex and evolving workforce, workplace and marketplace realities. So, increasing skills and knowledge around talent management; enhancing understanding and building trust; managing the workplace culture, policies practices and systems; and, knowing how to tap into the skills, talents and abilities to leveraging the diversity of your workforce to meet marketplace needs is critical and often the missing link to success.

Editor: Managerial involvement is not only critical to the diversity and inclusion process, but diversity and inclusion competencies are critical to business success.

Linda: Absolutely and here’s why. Mediocre results come from managers who assume or treat their employees as if they are all motivated by the same things, driven by the same goals, desire the same kind of relationships and learn the same way.

Editor: In other words, the manager, even without knowing, feels that employees need to be molded and transformed into a group of people who are pretty much alike.

Linda: Often times, yes. If you thinking about the game of Chess, the winner is determined by knowing each piece and strategically using that piece in the overall strategy. It’s the same with people managers, Great results come from managers who discover what is unique about each person and is able to capitalize on it by building those talents into the overall game plan of the department.

Editor: So, much depends on the kind of manager we are? But I thought we were talking about a diversity and inclusion training course?

Linda: We are! The question then becomes how you can be both a great people manager and a great business manager and get the results you are expected to achieve. From our perspective, there are many situations where leveraging the diverse talents and skills of employees intersect with business objectives – and that is the focus of this course.

Editor: So is that the impetus behind new Leveraging Diversity program?

Linda: Many of our clients are looking for that next step beyond diversity/inclusion awareness. They know that to successfully meet their business unit goals, their managers must be quickly equipped with knowledge, skills and tools to maximize employee engagement and innovation. To meet this need PRISM developed Leveraging Diversity for Engagement and Innovation™ as an interactive, next step, 1-day practical training program designed to provide a comprehensive, action-orientated diversity and inclusion skill set for managers.

Editor: So what are some of the objectives of the program and what will managers really walk away with?

Linda: The program is built around leveraging diversity as a business strategy. The focus is on developing managers to become full participants in their organization’s diversity and inclusion process and to better meet business objectives. There are 5 basic objectives built into modules that build on each other. The first objective lays the foundation of fully understanding the diversity and inclusion process and the importance of leveraging diversity. The second objective is about attracting, engaging, developing and retaining talent. The third objective is championing the diversity process within teams. The fourth objective is about creating a workplace that is invigorating, innovative, engaging and where people are excelling. And the final objective is to leverage the diverse talents, skills and perspectives for innovation.

Editor: That’s quite a load for a one day program.

Linda: It is robust. Furthermore, we provide tools and job aids that drive immediate implementation of the acquired skills. Managers even complete a practical, tactical and thorough Action Plan enabling them to identify and close important diversity and inclusion and business gaps in their own areas of responsibility.

Linda StokesAbout Linda Stokes

Linda H. Stokes is President & CEO of PRISM International, Inc., a WBENC-certified, full-service provider of innovative, proven diversity/inclusion; cross-cultural and harassment prevention strategies, consulting services, training programs and products. She is a recognized leader in the diversity and inclusion and coaches and mentors Executives, Chief Diversity Officers and diversity professionals at several of America’s top firms. She was recognized by the Women’s Executive Council of Orlando, Florida and awarded their Women’s Achievement Award for Business.


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