"Check Your Blind Spots"

11/13/2017 05:18 pm ET

Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.

-Aristotle

Since June, 330 CEO’s representing virtually every industry in the corporate world have joined forces to promote the The CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™, the largest CEO-driven commitment pledge ever. Their premise: Change begins at the top and with their leadership, diversity and inclusion will be embraced in their companies and across corporate America. Their mission is three-fold: (1) providing a trusting workplace that encourages open dialogue on diversity and inclusion issues; (2) implementing and expanding unconscious bias education; and (3) sharing experiences with respect to both best practices and what has not worked. Their goal: to increase their number to include the Fortune 1,000, with local and national meetings to promote the dialogue and continue the fight.

Tim Ryan, U.S. Chairman and Senior Partner of PwC, was the idea man behind the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™, and now chairs its steering committee. Tim believed that along with a position of leadership came the inherent responsibility to eradicate bias and discrimination in his company and the workforce at large. He was the beacon of light that drew the steering committee, and now hundreds of CEO’s, to join forces and fight the fight.

But while Tim and the steering committee knew that change must come from the top, they also recognized that, as Aristotle explained, “Good habits formed at youth make all the difference.” It is, after all, the current youth who will dictate the degree of diversity and inclusion in the workplace of the future. And thus the second revolutionary idea was born. They would start simultaneously at the top and at the proverbial generational “bottom”. Thus, the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ “CHECK YOUR BLIND SPOTS” college campus tour. A mobile vehicle will visit a number of universities employing multi-media “gamification" approach to not only help students uncover their own unconscious biases, but empower them with the tools to defeat their prejudices in a diverse and inclusionary environment. The genius behind this program is that students will learn not only to adjust existing discriminatory practices, but to prevent them from even existing at all. As they grow and enter the workforce, they will not only expect but demand similar inclusionary practices. As a mother of three, I can’t think of anything more exciting!

The mobile unit is scheduled to visit a number of universities, including Villanova University, Bentley University, Miami University, Binghamton University and Pennsylvania State University. To date the mobile unit has reached 1400 students and this is just the beginning.

In keeping with the theory that change cannot occur without leadership support, university and college academia and Presidents have been invited to join the initiative and to convene a “President’s Circle” devoted to bringing inclusionary and diverse practices to campuses through the student bodies, faculties and administrations. In this way, institutions of higher learning will therefore mirror the efforts the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ is taking at corporate level, creating powerful change agents at both ends of the generational spectrum.

The hope is for a future where, rather than entering a workforce with the heavy burden of creating change, today’s youth, having already internalized the practices of inclusion and diversity, and by the benefit of the new tone set by Tim Ryan and his fellow CEO’s, will enter a workplace where inclusive and diverse environment is already the norm.

It was a true honor to speak with Tim Ryan about this exciting new initiative. Through dialogue, commitment and action, Tim and the 330 other CEO’s that work with him will surely revolutionize the workforce from the “top”. And through a translated dialogue and the mobile delivery of the message to our students, change is now assured at the generational “bottom” as well. Pretty good odds that sometime in the not-too-distant future the two will meet in the middle and our corporate world will have an entirely new platform.

To learn more about the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ or if you are interested in making your college or university a stop in the tour, contact info@CEOAction.com.

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