WMFDP: Amid a Global Paradigm Shift, Companies Must Embrace a Deeper and More Meaningful Level of Diversity and Inclusion Practices

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Seismic economic and demographic shifts are underway, with projections of 250 million people living outside their birth nation, a billion women entering the workforce, and a corporate system that needs to catch up.

A 2017 Newsweek report outlines a paradigm shift in global economies, and a necessity for companies to integrate diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategies more rigorously and comprehensively if they wish to successfully compete in an accelerated marketplace. (1)

The report was supported by survey results from 600 respondents (80% of whom occupy leadership positions) from more than 35 countries, and details the tendency for companies to fall short of their potential in the D&I equation. Just two-fifths of organizations leverage diversity for external outreach, while only one-fourth consider the importance of diversity in innovation processes and product or services development.

However, dramatic trends in immigration, education and buying power indicate that “diversity and inclusion” is far more than just a buzz phrase, but is rather a philosophy and modus operandi to be woven throughout the corporate fabric.

“While the world economy continues to grow—potentially more than doubling in size by 2050—the balance is shifting,” the report states. “By 2044, more than half of all Americans are projected to belong to minority groups. A rise in immigration will continue to impact the cultural landscape with an estimated 250 million people worldwide living outside their birth nation.”

In light of this changing corporate climate, companies are looking to D&I consultancy firms that take innovative approaches to integrative and experiential learning. One such firm, White Men As Full Diversity Partners (WMFDP), has worked with an extensive list of Fortune 500 companies, such as Rockwell Automation, Dell, Alaska Airlines, Northwestern Mutual, Exxon Mobil, and Lockheed Martin. Their goal is to foster transformative change and create sustainable and inclusive work cultures, and they approach it with an unconventional strategy. While many companies are satisfied with simple knowledge transfer and awareness, WMFDP’s approach goes beyond, working to shift behavior and perceptions at the leadership and organization-wide levels, and improve the ability to leverage the talent and innovation D&I can bring.

“We found early on that diversity and inclusion was not something to be compartmentalized,” says WMFDP co-founder and author, Michael Welp. “To be effective, it should work at the DNA level. It’s got to be organic, starting at the top and moving through a company.”

Welp worked extensively in post-Apartheid South Africa in the 1990s before starting the firm with co-founder and CEO Bill Proudman. Their approach focuses, though not inclusively, on the “dominant group” in American and global business—primarily white male leaders—and the need for empathy, cooperation and partnership for diversity and inclusion strategies to take hold and integrate within the workplace. (2)

Called “The WMFDP Way –Pathways to Full Inclusion”, their approach differs from the traditional. As Welp explains, “The traditional approach tends to avoid uncomfortable topics. We lean into them. Instead of simply engaging the mind, we engage head and heart. Instead of blaming the ‘privileged group,’ we inspire them to become part of the solution.”

Hampton Hopkins, President of the Carolinas College of Health Sciences, said of his experience with WMFDP, “We are very excited about enhancing our cultural competence around this diversity dimension of White Men as Full Diversity Partners. One intentional and courageous step at a time.”

CEO and co-founder, Bill Proudman explains, “The WMFDP The Way is a strategic roadmap for Mr. Hopkins, and the entire Carolinas College of Health Sciences, designed to ensure application of the diversity and inclusion techniques they have learned are not forgotten and can be integrated into their everyday lives both at work and personally.”

Proudman also pointed to the deluge of sexual harassment allegations and an unprecedented upheaval in the entertainment industry. No longer can systemic bias go unexamined. The path is clear: Embracing a diverse and inclusive workplace from within can reap exponential rewards in terms of innovation and business success in the global economy, while maintaining the status quo can be catastrophic.

About White Men As Full Diversity Partners (WMFDP):

White Men As Full Diversity Partners (WMFDP) is a diversity and leadership development firm founded in 1996 by Bill Proudman, Michael Welp, Ph.D., and Jo-Ann Morris in Portland, Oregon. WMFDP takes an unorthodox approach towards eradicating bias and discrimination in the workplace. Its client list includes Alaska Airlines, Dell, Lockheed Martin, Northwestern Mutual, Rockwell Automation, Chevron Drilling & Completions, The Nature Conservancy, MassMutual, and others.

The majority of C-level executives are white and male, and they are frequently omitted from their vital role in increasing diversity and equality. Proudman and Welp observed that these critical subjects were not being taken to the doorstep of these leaders, to the detriment of struggling minorities, women and the economy as a whole. With a background that includes extensive field work in post-Apartheid South Africa in the early 1990s, Proudman and Welp have dedicated the last two decades to educating and engaging leaders of any race, color, gender or orientation. Welp is the author of the book, Four Days to Change. With an insightful foreword by Proudman, the book chronicles the journey from rural South Africa to the boardrooms of America— to lay the groundwork of a global paradigm shift.

1.    Staff, Newsweek. “Achieving Results: Diversity & Inclusion Actions with Impact.” Newsweek, 2 Nov. 2017.
2.    wmfdp.com.

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Karla Jo Helms
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