With racial tensions prominent in the news, it may be tempting for companies to avoid issues of diversity and inclusion. But doing so means foregoing business opportunities and growth, says USPR Senior Strategist of Community Relations and Diversity Management Larcine Bland.
In her role as a consultant on diversity issues, Larcine helps corporations bridge the gap between their leadership and minority communities. She works to align a community’s needs with a business’s ability to meet those needs profitably.
It’s a function she’s overseen for much of her career, including executive positions at Blockbuster, 7-Eleven, and most recently as a consultant with Dunkin’ Brands, parent company to Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins chains. Through the Diversity in Franchising Initiative, Dunkin’ Brands and the NAACP have teamed up in an effort to increase the number of franchise businesses owned by people of color in the U.S.
Larcine says that companies would be wise not to be distracted by the headlines about conflict and instead focus on the business potential for a more inclusive approach to communities of all sorts.
Here are her 5 keys to success:
Make sure you’re connecting your activities to your business needs. While it’s great to be motivated by moral concerns, what your company does from a diversity perspective ultimately must be tied to business success and can’t be viewed as an act of charity.
Be sure you understand what’s wanted by the communities you want to serve. Larcine points to her time at Blockbuster when the company wanted to grow business in African American and Latino communities. By doing surveys of customers and stocking the stores with movies that were unique to those communities, sales took an immediate increase, she says.
Work with others to deepen your knowledge of the market. In the Blockbuster example, the company enlisted the help of the Latino International Film Festival to find films that would appeal to a Latino audience.
Form partnerships that provide incentives to making your goals. Larcine speaks to retailers looking to diversify their employees in different store locations. To increase the pipeline of minority applicants, one retailer teamed up with local Urban League affiliates, familiarizing them with the qualifications required for the positions, and providing referral fees for recruiting successful candidates.
Support, but don’t coddle. Dunkin’ Brands is working with the NAACP and the International Franchise Association to find and educate candidates who could potentially be franchisees of their stores. The candidates go through a Franchise 101 course, are offered assistance in the application process for SBA loans, attend development seminars and potentially can get financing from Dunkin’ Brands.