Lawrence Hibbert, President and Managing Partner and Dr. Randal D. Pinkett, CEO and Managing Partner, BCT PartnersLawrence Hibbert, President and Managing Partner and Dr. Randal D. Pinkett, CEO and Managing Partner
Given the uncertainty caused by the events unfolding up until now in 2020, there is no denying that we are living in extraordinary times. Especially in the U.S., organizations and the society at large are navigating choppy waters to battle against the ongoing twin pandemics: COVID-19 and systemic racism. Following the death of George Floyd, the country is struggling through yet another awakening related to systemic racism and how society perpetuates the shadow set of rules that many people live with, not by choice but for survival. In order to shape the future of a more inclusive economy, companies are increasingly working on inculcating better diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. The urgency of the work, in light of ongoing racial pandemic, has created greater demand for experts that can transform neighborhoods into vibrant communities and empower stakeholders to catalyze change and create a positive impact. Enter BCT Partners.

Founded in 2000, BCT Partners is a leading consulting firm that understands the inherent challenges associated with inequities and equips organizations with robust solutions to close the gaps. The company believes that data analytics and insights play a critical role in identifying these gaps, enhancing decision making, gauging progress, measuring impact, and driving outcomes.

In a recent interview with Manage HR’s editorial team, BCT Partners’ chairman, CEO and managing partner, Dr. Randal D. Pinkett and president and managing partner, Lawrence Hibbert, discuss at length about their robust capabilities and services and how they are bringing their idea of supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion to life.

Could you give us a brief overview of your company?

Dr. Pinkett: Lawrence and I, along with Dallas Grundy and Dr. Jeffrey Robinson, co-founders and partners at BCT Partners, started our first business—MBS Educational Services and Training—at Rutgers University. We have been business partners together for 27 years. The tagline of our first venture was “catalyst of change, one person at a time,” and we were committed to providing the highest caliber training and development for students and emerging professionals.

Over the years, with a goal to work toward creating a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable society, MBS evolved into BCT Partners. As our entrepreneurial journey advanced along with the changing social dynamics and market conditions, so did our company’s mission. Equity is now our end game, and that’s why our mission is to provide insights about diverse people that lead to equity.

Hibbert: From an insights perspective, we bring to bear different solutions and services that can empower organizations to foster diversity, as well as understand the disparities and inequities that exist in our society. We support them in data-driven decision making by assisting them with meaningful insights for generating actions and then translating them into equity. Our esteemed clientele includes corporations, government agencies, non-profit organizations, foundations, as well as academic institutions.

What pain-points exist in terms of adopting a sustainable way to inculcate diversity and inclusion, and how does your company effectively address these issues?

Dr. Pinkett: Getting to the root of what makes it difficult for organizations to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion is one of the greatest challenges. It involves understanding the four different levels—personal, interpersonal, systemic, and institutional—at which racism and bias can manifest. At a personal level, we look at changing people’s mindsets and behaviors, which is a gradual process and doesn’t happen overnight. From the interpersonal perspective, we seek to transform negative behaviors such as micro-aggressions and micro-inequities into positive behaviors reflecting micro-affirmations. At the systemic and institutional level, we bring in change by transforming organizational practices and policies.

Hibbert: The subtle question is, where does an organization begin to prepare for change? We have a nuanced ability to understand where to start the conversation, what are the best practices that should be adopted by an organization, and how they can be most effective in moving toward this ultimate goal of equity.

Could you elaborate on your company’s key offerings?

Hibbert: BCT Partners possesses a solid understanding of the different sectors where diverse people work, live, and play such as healthcare, children and family services, housing and community development, energy and infrastructure, workforce development, and corporate diversity and inclusion. However, we believe that it’s crucial to not only have a good understanding of people but also to have the right tools to assess and evaluate the effectiveness of their work through the equity lens.

BCT Partners understands the inherent challenges associated with inequities, and equips organizations with robust solutions to close the gaps

From assessments to deriving insights, we leverage data to help organizations understand their overall performance. We then analyze that data alongside their future endeavors and employ effective strategies to help them reach their goal. We provide services based on an organization’s needs, from learning and development to management consulting support or strategic planning and execution support. This includes developing a DEI strategy, creating employee resource groups, conducting regretted loss assessments, performing human resources equity analyses, and enhancing the entire employee development lifecycle from recruiting to retention to development to advancement.

From an individual assessment standpoint, we can provide assessments around unconscious bias to help individuals recognize their blind spots, which is a potential starting point. Programmatically, the evaluation involves looking at social programs, and the outcomes they render while focusing on how equitable the service delivery is across all the existing stakeholders. On the other hand, organizational assessment involves observing the behaviors and norms at various hierarchical levels within an organization. From executives to mid-level managers to individual contributors, we gather insights and identify existing gaps in creating environments of inclusion and belonging, and then help companies employ effective steps to transform their organizational culture.

Dr. Pinkett: We leverage our proprietary data analytics method—precision analytics—for analyzing assessment data or other forms of data to glean powerful insights. Moreover, we’ve also been leveraging virtual reality to foster empathy and human understanding and offer people the experience of being in somebody else’s shoes. The virtual reality program, called ‘Through My Eyes,’ is a 360-degree virtual reality immersion. As the program creates real-life scenarios, it enables organizations to teach their employees how to recognize unconscious bias. Embracing empathy and human understanding has long talked about in the DEI space, and our program takes that perspective to a whole new level.

Could you elaborate on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the DEI arena, and how is your company assisting its clients during these challenging times?

Hibbert: The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled us to become extremely innovative in our business operations and engagement with clients. We are successfully engaging with our clients virtually, for all consulting work and training deliveries. However, the ongoing “social justice movement and racial unrest” has had an even greater overall impact on discussions around DEI. There has been a huge opportunity for us to help evaluate and build strategic plans for organizations, who intend to make that change in a substantive way.

Dr. Pinkett: We recently launched a new product, COVID-19 Urgent Service Provider (CUSP), which is built upon our Equitable Impact Platform (EquIP—a proprietary big data platform) to provide data that can identify communities in need. As non-profits play a crucial role during these unprecedented times due to COVID-19, our tool helps donors identify not just the communities that require support but also the non-profits capable of making the most substantial impact. It is aimed at safeguarding the delivery of critical services and proximity to those services, closing existing racial income and wealth gaps in society, and decision support to ensure that the recovery from the pandemic is done in an equitable way.

What are the differentiating factors that give your company a competitive edge?

Hibbert: Our ability to assess and evaluate where an organization stands using data and advanced analytics, and form an effective strategy to help them achieve their goal, differentiates our work. The use of data to evaluate what could possibly be the starting point to bring in the necessary change creates a strong value proposition for us. We leverage our deep subject matter expertise, cultural competence, and data analytics to identify, reduce, or eliminate inequities. In the end, we envision a world where a greater understanding of diverse people leads to greater equity.