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Carla Harris and Torin Ellis: D&I as a commercial imperative

It’s time to check your house — diversity is not only possible, it’s necessary.


Photo by Harry Quan on Unsplash

Unleash Your People Wall Street veteran Carla Harris and Global D&I Strategist Torin Ellis share insight on why companies continue to fail at D&I and what leaders can do to drive much needed change.

  • Racism has cost the US $16 trillion, according to research by Citigroup.
  • Less than 4% of traditional VC dollars go to women and less than 2% go to people of color.
  • D&I is not just the moral thing to do, but a huge commercial opportunity.

Diversity and inclusion has been a conversation that has been happening in the corporate world for over 30 years and yet most companies still fail to implement successful and sustainable D&I strategies. So where are they going wrong and how can leaders initiate that much-needed change? This lively interview between Carla Harris and Torin Ellis tackles these questions.

“D&I has been something that we feel we need to execute in the same way we feel we need to proliferate a new product or come up with a new process or strategy. This means organizations are failing to see it as a strategic and commercial imperative. Unless we embrace it in this way, it will always be easy to put aside,” Harris says.

Harris and Ellis discuss how corporates make the mistake of seeing D&I as ‘the right thing to do’ or the ‘moral thing to do’. Instead, it should be seen for what it is — a huge commercial opportunity and an unparalleled competitive advantage.

Click play to watch Torin Ellis and Carla Harris’ lively discussion on diversity and inclusion.

It’s time to check your house

The pipeline problem is one that leaders often fall back on when justifying the lack of diversity, adding to the narrative that change is often ‘too hard’ or even impossible.

Harris points out: “There is not a supply problem at all. If your people of color or women are not bringing in good talent for you, you need to check your house. Because if things are going really well in the house, they would be.”

The problem is leaders are often afraid to check their house because they are afraid of what they might find.

The chairman can be loud and proud about it but it often gets lost in the ‘moveable middle,’ Harris explains. “In order to have a long-term sustainable, competitive, and successful D&I plan, you need to have accountability, intentionality, and consistency and I have not seen companies able to do that for 30 years,” she adds.

Belonging drives success

Success in D&I doesn’t just look like people of color and women taking up a greater percentage of the workforce. Success is about making those people feel like they belong there.

“You know you have arrived when you hear minorities saying ‘my CEO’, or ‘my company’,” Harris explains. ” This means that people are really owning the environment and you have moved from D&I to belonging.”

Catch up with part two of our exclusive video series with Carla Harris, where she further explores the case for diversity and inclusion:

Check out other videos in our exclusive series with Carla Harris:


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