First-Ever Diversity and Inclusion Standards Will Be Released by Early 2013, SHRM Says

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CHICAGO--The first-ever national standards creating foundational understandings and certification processes for corporate diversity and inclusion programs will be released in a matter of months and could be operational next summer, senior executives of the Society for Human Resource Management said Oct. 22 during SHRM's 2012 Diversity and Inclusion Conference.

Shirley Davis Sheppard, SHRM's vice president of global diversity and inclusion, said SHRM's Diversity and Inclusion Task Force has nearly completed three separate standards that will “change the game’’ for human resources managers around the world.

The standards are expected to serve as the default tool for defining, structuring, and measuring corporate diversity and inclusion strategies. The SHRM task force is developing the standards under the auspices of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Organization of Standardization (IOS).

“International standards give state-of the art specifications for products, services, and good practices for helping industries become more efficient and more effective,’’ Sheppard said. “SHRM has made the investment of time, money, effort, and energy to further equip HR, and diversity and inclusion professionals to ready organizations for these changing times.’’

Sheppard said the task force is developing a “top diversity professional’’ standard, a “diversity and inclusion programs’’ standard, and a “diversity and inclusion metrics’’ standard.

Effenus Henderson, chief diversity officer for the forestry products firm Weyerhaeuser Co. and a co-chair of the SHRM task force, said one of the standards would be released at the end of this year and the other two would be released early in 2013. He noted that the standards would be subjected to a public comment process. Henderson said the standards would likely be released in a final form by mid 2013.

Cari Dominguez, a former chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and co-chair of the SHRM task force, said corporate America has in many cases been slow to adopt an aggressive diversity and inclusion agenda because there were no standards or common definitions to understand and measure their objectives. Similarly, she said, government agencies have been reluctant to create diversity goals and requirements because adequate measurements did not exist.

With the new ANSI standards, Dominguez said HR professionals would be able to make focused pitches to their leadership teams and accomplish concrete diversity and inclusion goals.

“This process will serve to fill in those blanks,’’ Dominguez said. The standards will be a boon not only to the diversity and inclusion profession, but also to companies seeking a strategic and competitive advantage, she added.

By Michael Bologna  

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