Diversity and inclusiveness are core values for NTT DATA Services, and a key part of our company’s vision is that we enhance our creativity by respecting diversity. Inclusion can be increased through awareness, which can come from having open conversations that produce a shared understanding and provide immeasurable benefits to those willing to participate. In the spirit of having open conversations. As the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Office for NTT DATA Services I recently had the opportunity to talk with guest speaker Brandon Thompson, VP of Diversity and Inclusion for NASCAR as part of their THRIVE Speaker Series. Our topic was Leading During Turbulent Times and Building Bridges to a Better Tomorrow.
Both Brandon and I are graduates of Clark Atlanta University and now both have an opportunity to help our organizations navigate through some very turbulent times. The discussion was opened by another Clark Atlanta University graduate Marty Edwards, steering committee member for THRIVE. THRIVE is an NTT DATA Services Employee Resource Group dedicated to supporting and promoting the successful inclusion of Black people throughout NTT DATA Services.
Throughout the session, we discussed the support we receive from our leadership and the recent conversations in our organizations between leadership and employees. Those conversations have been emotional and necessary to help our organizations move forward. I asked Brandon to share three actions that have been key for helping Diversity and Inclusion move forward at NASCAR. Here is what he cited:
- Go in pursuit of the culture, if we’re looking to effectuate change. Talking about change and even having diverse employees, saying you’re inclusive, that’s all great and key factors. But D&I has to be woven into the fabric. Brandon mentioned core values, that can’t just be from the D&I head or D&I department. He suggested that people are needed to support these initiatives, programs and efforts or what an organization is trying to accomplish. For real change, D&I has to be at the very core of what we do.
- Realize and understand Diversity and Inclusion are lumped together now with Equity. Each concept is important, but they are separate and not the same thing. While they all tie together, they require different approaches and strategies. They are all journeys. We didn’t get here overnight. These are societal issues and systemic issues. These concepts were not built overnight and will not be taken down overnight. Part of the journey is two-fold. We have to have patience, and the job is never finished, but is ongoing.
- Make management check-ins with employees wholistic. Managers can get caught in, “Hey where the report I asked you for?” or “Here are the KPIs or deadlines we have to meet.” Management needs to be able to engage with their teams and talk about what is happening in broader society. There is little separation between what’s going on in the world and what’s going on at work, since we’re all working from home or remotely. Wholistic check-ins transcend Diversity and Inclusion or Equity. Through more comprehensive check-ins, management is just being a good people manager and making sure people are okay overall.
We are seeing the image of NASCAR change. Some changes include Jesse Iwuji, NASCAR Xfinity Series driver partnering with Emmitt Smith through Notable.Live (a company he co-founded Smith), and the announcement that NBA legend Michael Jordan will have his own NASCAR Cup Series team in 2021. Brandon mentioned exposing more people to the sport, and these announcements should certainly help.
NTT DATA Services hopes to sit down again with Brandon and perhaps IndyCar as well to talk further about moving Diversity and Inclusion forward in our organizations. Stay tuned.
Post Date: 12/14/2020