From the desk of Dorothee Racette, Time Management and Productivity Coach for Take Back My Day.
Interview with Angela S. Dixon, VP Talent & Inclusion – April 18, 2018
I recently had the pleasure to sit down with Angela Dixon, the new VP Talent & Inclusion at the Capital Region Chamber, to find out more about her newly created position and priorities for her first year. Angela is excited to work with the Women’s Business Council and looks forward to being a resource to Chamber members across the spectrum of workforce development and talent acquisition, including in diversity and inclusion initiatives. She previously worked for 11 years at the State Comptroller’s Office in the capacity of Deputy Comptroller of Human Resources and Administration and holds an MBA from the University of Albany.
Q: Can you give us some background about the newly created position of VP Talent & Inclusion?
Angela Dixon: The Capital Region Chamber’s mission is to be a unifying force for change, creating greater influence and opportunities for members and Capital Region communities. As such, the Chamber has both a focus and an interest in assisting its members with talent acquisition and workforce development strategies. Data shows that communities that are more diverse and inclusive have not only a competitive advantage but also are more prosperous, leading to more vibrant communities. On matters of diversity and inclusion, we want to learn and grow with our members.
This focus shows up in a number of different ways including in the Capital Region Chamber’s 2017-2020 strategic plan. The Chamber and its members recognize that key to success of the region’s businesses and continued growth is to have a diverse and inclusive workforce and community.
In October 2017, a member survey was conducted to assess what members were thinking and doing as it relates to diversity and inclusion. (See below for further details on the survey outcome). The Chamber also wanted to gauge what role it could take on to support this regional issue. Based on survey findings, a number of actions were necessary to demonstrate the Chamber’s commitment beyond the survey. One of those actions was to recruit a staff person dedicated to driving the effort. This resulted in the Chamber creating the position of Vice President for Talent and Inclusion, signaling the importance of the role to the Chamber, its leadership and board.
In addition to the member survey, research was conducted to assess the business case for diversity. Cities and regions that embrace diversity tend to do better economically. Companies in the top quartile for diversity are 35% more likely to financially outperform those in the bottom quartile.
Here are a few demographic developments that have a major impact on the call for greater diversity:
According to the latest U.S. census data: 13% of the US population is foreign born. By 2055, the United States will not have a single racial or ethnic majority. The 2015 Capital Region Statistical Report states that there was an 18-21% increase in Asian, Native American and Hispanic Origin populations from 2010-2014.
- The millennial generation is the largest in the workforce
- The LGBT community has emerged as a critical component to economic success, according to “Diversity and Inclusion for the 21st Century Economy: An Imperative for Chambers of Commerce.”
- The Silver Tsunami is upon us – The Social Security Administrationestimates that 10,000 Americans are turning 65 every day.
- The rate of unemployment of individuals with disabilities in our area alone is nearly 70% — these are members of our community who are often overlooked as a viable part of our workforce
- Veterans who are returning to the workforce following years of military service provide employers access to some of the best trained and developed members of our workforce.
These data points represent opportunities as we attract a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
Q: In your mind, what are the benefits of diversity and inclusion?
Angela Dixon: Diversity and Inclusion is not just a goal or an add-on, it is integral to how we do business. It is about creating a welcoming and growing community, where everyone’s capabilities are recognized and used to the fullest extent. When new community residents who are excited about being here and want to put roots down in the community, we all win. It means that young professionals who want to return to the area or stay in the Capital Region can grow their careers and families. That helps to expand regional opportunities and is expressed in a shared pride in our community.
Q: What will be your highest priorities for the coming year?
- To be a resource to Chamber members across the spectrum of workforce development and talent acquisition strategies, including diversity and inclusion – identify and share best practices
- Enhance awareness – provide continued cultural diversity training and implicit bias training for Chamber Staff, Board, Councils; important that we’re all speaking the same language
- Continue work with various Capital Region communities – we are all in this together; continued outreach
- Work internally with my colleagues on Chamber programming and activities to achieve greater diversity and inclusion across all programs
Q: What can the members of the Women’s Business Council do to help spread the word?
Angela Dixon: I am really glad you asked that question. Diversity is not something that can simply be introduced. It is a deliberate effort on everyone’s part to step outside of their comfort zone and reach out to people that are currently not engaged.
Here are a few suggestions I have:
- Continue your efforts to bring in thought leaders around diversity and inclusion; broaden the conversation and the audience
- Make a personal commitment to do 1-3 things differently that advance diversity and inclusiveness
- Understand the business implications and advantages to a more diverse and inclusive community
- Share best practices – don’t reinvent the wheel; other Chambers and Chamber members have developed a road map for D&I; we have an opportunity to incorporate approaches and strategies that meet our specific needs
Appendix: Summarized outcomes of the diversity survey the Chamber conducted in 2017
- 249 respondents:
- 59% have a formal policy or commitment statement about D&I
- 50% of companies that responded include D&I in their strategic plan
- 39% have an individual who manages or directs D&I
- Challenges in advancing D&I:
- lack of diversity in talent pool (59%);
- lack of time and resources (52%);
- lack of training and internal expertise (20%);
- lack of internal management support (7%).
- Other issues included: staff retention, low turnover creating minimal opportunities for filling senior positions with diverse candidates; unconscious or implicit bias