By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member
Jason Thompson has helped organizations and companies build diversity, equity and inclusion programs for over 25 years. Even if he did not choose to go down this career path, he knew as a person of color he would eventually be forced to broach the subjects.
“People will say, ‘well, why diversity and inclusion?’ We don’t have a choice,” said Thompson. “At some part of my life, I just deal with it anyway whether I work in this space or not. I like it because I feel like I am making change or at least I’m attempting to.”
While working for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee several years ago, Thompson developed a dashboard to measure the diversity of each sport. His invention earned him the top honor from Profiles in Diversity Journal at the 2016 International Innovation in Diversity Awards.
Thompson’s phone rang constantly with people urging him to turn his platform into a business. Finally, in 2019, he and his son, Justus, co-founded CAPE Inclusion, a company that provides data-driven solutions to fuel diversity, equity and inclusion advancement.
CAPE stands for collect, analyze, plan and execute, and it outlines the various stages involved in launching a diversity, equity and inclusion program.
“We can identify where the biases are in your organization so that you can make your diversity training effective,” said Thompson. “We can look at what are the levers a company can control, organize that for you, you can then start impacting on your diversity goals.”
Rather than focusing on the process, CAPE Inclusion puts outcomes at the forefront. It pinpoints what type of unconscious bias training a company requires and identifies the departments and company leaders that need to attend the training.
According to Thompson, the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which is facing societal scrutiny following former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores’ lawsuit against the league, is an example of a faulty diversity program.
Although the league teams carry out the process of interviewing diverse candidates for head coaching positions, the NFL does not hold them accountable for the outcomes.
If an organization or company is making several 100 hires per month, Thompson recommended that they analyze their diversity, equity and inclusion programs monthly.
Diversity can also contribute to the competitiveness of a company. If employees reflect the diversity of the world, the company has a better chance of understanding its customer base, which can foster consumer loyalty.
Recently, Thompson published his first book “Diversity and Inclusion Matters: Tactics and Tools to Inspire Equity and Game-Changing Performance.” The book illustrates how companies can use the CAPE model to start diversity programs.
“Diversity has to have inclusion, and inclusion means I am empowered to speak up. Equity means when I do speak up, you don’t fire me,” said Thomspon. “You’ve got to have all three pieces of those things. People have to be in the room, but they have to be empowered to speak up so they feel included. They have to know when they do and challenge how does things that their job security is not at risk.”
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