Joy Papini,PhD, Owner and President, CIDIS Joy Papini,PhD, Owner and President
Kamala Harris’ powerful message as the first female Vice President of the United States resonated as much with women worldwide as it did in the U.S.—a single sentence reaffirming the aspirations, drive, determination, and ambition of a new generation of women entrepreneurs.

Globally, women have become engines for economic growth. Their grit, brilliance, perseverance, and power to overcome all odds and shine the brightest have enabled them to break barriers and smash the glass ceiling. Today, women are establishing their businesses across all industries and carving out extraordinary examples for many to follow! Dr.Joy Papini, owner and president of CIDIS, a Reston, VA-based human capital management consulting firm, is a maven among them. She founded CIDIS in 2013 with the mission to help business leaders build effective, diverse, and inclusive organizations.

Cultivating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive (DEI) work environment is ‘not a walk in the park.’ Achieving true DEI takes into account more than just race, gender, sexual orientation, and age; one must also consider the diversity of ability, background, experience, and thought. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce. To be successful, businesses must continually assess their policies, procedures, and programs to ensure that they are not adversely impacting any particular group or inhibiting an inclusion culture. Additionally, it is imperative that companies actively foster an inclusive environment that starts at the highest level of leadership.

CIDIS works collaboratively with its clients to support diversity and inclusion initiatives across an organization through data-driven assessments, leveraging best practices and robust change management implementation plans. “Via our assessment lens, we help businesses understand where they are in their DEI journey and determine the effective path forward towards fostering a more diverse workforce and inclusive environment,” says Dr.Joy. This includes employees’ take on the diversity and inclusion environment within the organization: “Is there a need for new programs or initiatives?” “Does the workforce require coaching or training or facilitation to shore up the understanding and commitment to diversity and inclusion?” and so on. CIDIS enables businesses to improve DEI in the workplace by positively impacting their culture and driving change and progress through the development of innovative and strategic solutions that keep them moving forward.

CIDIS in Action

CIDIS has designed a four-step process called “your story” to help leaders and organizations get an in-depth understanding of where they are currently in their DEI story and support the development of the path forward. The firm approaches diversity and inclusion as two separate pathways. From a diversity perspective, CIDIS collects data on demographics such as race, nationality, and origin (RNO), gender, age, and the likes of it. “We look at those percentages within the organization and, if viable, compare the findings to external benchmark data to highlight differences and potential underrepresentation across groups.We also look internally—from a number standpoint—at the health of those different demographics. ‘How are the demographic groups performing within the organization across the human capital life-cycle (like hiring, promotion, and attrition)?’ and more,” reveals Dr.Joy. On the inclusion side, CIDIS curates information on five key components that cultivate inclusion: authentic leadership commitment, respect in the workplace, employees’ feeling of belonging, employee empowerment, and perceptions on equal opportunity for career progression via surveys, interviews, and/or focus groups. Within those areas, the firm also identifies areas of strength to build upon and gaps that need improvement initiatives. In addition, they also review academic research to provide more context and understanding of the key findings and identifyleading practices that will support diversity and inclusion improvements in an organization.Following this, the CIDIS team analyses and syntheses the diversity data, workforce perceptions, and academic research into a report that specifies the assessment methodology, key findings, inclusion indicators and recommendations for improvement.Together with the leadership and stakeholders within the client’s organization, CIDIS develops targeted programs and initiatives that not only build on current strengths in the company but also help them improve potential weaknesses. “In short, instead of rushing companies into taking action on DEI, we help them stop, step back, and adjust to a more strategic approach. This goes a long way in having a greater impact on the workforce as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion within the workforce,” avers Dr.Joy.

Via our assessment lens, we help businesses understand where they are in their DEI journey and determine the effective path forward towards fostering a more diverse workforce and inclusive environment.

The CIDIS Difference

The CIDIS team understands that no two organizations are alike and are most likely to take different paths to diversity and inclusion. “Our differentiator is that we focus on helping organizations understand that path. Companies know where they want to go but don’t necessarily know how to get there. By being truly collaborative, we tailor our solutions and services to cater to our clients’ needs.Our approach is designed to help leaders develop a path forward in their ‘DEI story’ and help them monitor diversity, equity, and, inclusion year over year to track progress and improvements overtime,” mentions Dr.Joy.

Furthermore, the company’s work culture and the team also play a critical role in CIDIS’ growth and success. Dr.Joy fosters a transparent, collaborative working environment where people share ideas and knowledge with one another. “One of the things that we believe in fervently is continuous learning for ourselves and helping others to continuously learn and increase their awareness around diversity, equity, and inclusion. To that end, we carry out videos, webinars, and podcasts; write articles; develop toolkits and guides to pass on that learning to other organizations,” adds Dr.Joy.

In fact, the name CIDIS stands for the core values the company believes in and builds on: Collaboration, Impact, Drive, Innovation, and Strategy. “We work side-by-side in collaboration with clients to assist in understanding an organization’s culture, workforce, strategic goals, mission, and potential risks. We design, develop, and implement sustainable initiatives that will have long-term impacts at all levels of the organization,” explains Dr.Joy. CIDIS partners with clients to drive solutions that create momentum and sustainability for change to propel organizations forward. Furthermore, it strives to find innovative solutions, not for the sake of change but for progress through changes in process, technology, and human capital. All-in-all, CIDIS develops a strategic direction that will assist organizations in successfully meeting their mission and objectives.

A Future Geared Toward Value

More recently, the firm developed an inclusion index survey as a part of ‘your story;’ the survey measures inclusion within a company based on five key components and helps organizations—in a more succinct way—peer into the hearts and minds, thoughts and perceptions of its employees around those key areas for improving inclusion and pinpoint the strong and weak areas.

Alongside, CIDIS is working toward adding more automation to its framework. “For us, data is key, so we are looking to automate and develop diversity, equity, inclusion scorecard that will complement the diversity, equity, inclusion assessments that we carry out. The scorecard will enable leadership in the workforce to view DEI trends and track improvements over time using a more exploratory and automated dashboard,” states Dr.Joy. These dashboards will serve as an interactive place for the workforce and leadership to explore their demographic and inclusion data, look at the demographics across the human capital life-cycle, and enable business leaders to make better decisions. In its quest to help businesses strengthen their DEI, CIDIS will continue to support leaders in taking a strategic approach to their DEI journey.

After all, promoting diversity within an organization can make all the difference in defining the success of the company and its employees!