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The DEI Debacle: Trying to Do It All Is Ineffectual

  • Friday, December 03, 2021
  • 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
  • Zoom Meeting

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In no other American corporate construct do we tend to celebrate effort over impact like in the context of DEI. How did we get here? And more importantly, how should we move forward with authentic purpose and not as a means to simply check off another box?

Diversity, as a commitment vs. a compliance undertaking, hit the Fortune 500 stage in the early 1990s. Thereafter, around 2012, inclusion entered the scene. Between 2012 and early 2020, most companies spent much of their precious resources debating such impactful imperatives like whether the “I” should precede the “D” in D&I and how much more broadly they could define their diversity statement, ever careful to ensure all are included and no one felt left out. Meanwhile, minority employees were just hoping that the DEI work could just focus, for a while, on their particular plight.

Corporations far and wide yanked an “E” from the sky and affixed it right next to the D and the I and cemented it all with a “Black Lives Matter” banner on their websites. Some of these organizations were operating entirely out of fear or a perfunctory obligation to appear sincerely invested in allyship and attracting, retaining, and amplifying its minority talent base. Some, on the other hand, were quite earnestly and authentically committed. 

What if neither motivation matters?

Speaker: Nikki Lanier

Nikki Lanier is the CEO of Harper Slade, a racial equity advisory firm focused on helping organizations and communities’ advance equity for some and equality for all. An experienced leader with over 25 years of career achievements that span Banking, Labor and Employment Law, Collective Bargaining, Human Resources, and State Government. A Private and Public Sector CHRO adept in a multitude of HR disciplines, Nikki is experienced in managing multi-site operations, ensuring compliance with all federal and state employment laws and employing comprehensive approaches that effectively align human capital priorities with the overall organizational strategy. Nikki is a collaborative leader who is skilled in building synergetic teams in multi-cultural and cross-functional environments. An Executive Management Committee veteran with site and functional leadership responsibilities with the Federal Reserve Bank, Philip Morris USA, Georgia Pacific, ADP, Charter Schools USA and the country’s largest community college system, Maricopa Community Colleges, Nikki is a dexterous division executive having led teams in a number of settings including, manufacturing, government, higher education, HR consulting, healthcare, k-12 and central banking. As CHRO of three organizations, Nikki drove accelerated cultural change, created and implemented innovative organizational development, strategic planning, employee relations, community engagements and partnerships, training and development, succession planning, recruitment and retention, labor negotiations and union avoidance, all directed toward driving strong operational outcomes.

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