Pioneering Metrics of Diversity and Inclusion
Dr. Tiffany Jana is an African-American business owner, diversity and inclusion expert, mother, and volunteer extraordinaire. As women increasingly become leaders of innovative businesses in new fields, Jana stands out — and not just for her cheerful disposition and abundant energy.
Although she recently stepped down as the CEO of TMI Consulting, the 41-year-old, Richmond Virginia-based entrepreneur still oversees the TMI portfolio of companies, which includes TMI Consulting and Loom Technologies. TMI businesses provide diversity and engagement consulting and analytic services to enterprise and mid-sized businesses.
How did Jana develop such a unique business? As she says, there was a time in her life when she needed to work, yet couldn’t find a workplace environment that reflected her values and fit her lifestyle. So in 2003 she created her own.
From motherhood to thriving entrepreneur
Jana started college at the age of fifteen, left when she became a mother — just one credit short of getting her degree. Several years later, she found herself a divorced mother of two looking for
work that aligned with her custody schedule and desire to be home for her children.
“I couldn’t find an organization that would let me work really hard the week the children were with their father, and then, you know, disappear the other week,” she told interviewer Neal Ball in a 2017 The Entrepreneur Way podcast.
Jana chose to launch a marketing business targeting non-profit and arts organizations in her area. This allowed her to work in a field she enjoyed while accommodating her schedule and family needs. It was hard work, she says and there was a lot to learn. Jana told Ball she, “Spent a good deal of time understanding my market. Who was my competition, what were the gaps, what could I offer that was better or different?”
Her business evolved through several iterations, (including merging three companies in 2010) to focus on diversity and inclusion issues in businesses. Today, Jana is recognized as a global expert in metrics-based engagement, as well as the driving force behind TMI, the world’s first Certified Benefits Corporation with a diversity and engagement focus.
Diversity, equity and inclusion in today’s business world
In the public and private sector the phrase “diversity, equity and inclusion” (DEI) has been appearing more frequently as public organizations and businesses of all sizes seek to establish transparent and inclusive policies.
According to Deloitte’s 2017 Human Capital Trends Report, 69% of executives identify diversity and inclusion as an important issue – up from just 59% in 2014. And TMI’s companies (TMI Consulting and Loom Technologies) may be well positioned to assist clients with addressing their DEI strategy.
Jana applies data analysis technology to human behavior to pinpoint DEI issues within organizations of various sizes and characteristics. One of the services the team provides is crafting action plans for clients to improve the workplace experience for all employees.
“We’re a full-service diversity, equity, and inclusion management consulting firm,” says Jana. Services TMI offers include DEI strategy, keynotes, organizational assessment, train-the-trainer, diversity training, diversity management, executive culture competence coaching, and employee resource group strategy.
The intersection of metrics and behavior
Jana’s teams apply engagement metrics to the study of diversity, equity, and inclusion behavior in the workplace. This involves measuring engagement levels within an organization.
“We put quantitative and qualitative metrics behind the employee experience,” Jana says. “We have the ability to test dozens of interpersonal and organizational competencies that we use to report how equipped various demographics are for interaction across cultural differences.”
In other words, Jana says, “We can also measure how people are being treated in the workplace.”
Forging a path as a black female entrepreneur
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 25.9% of women-owned firms in America were minority owned in 2016. Yet findings from a Kansas City Federal Reserve Board series of focus groups of black women business owners noted these women face unique challenges. These include a “perceived lack of support from the black community and existing small business organizations.”
In Jana’s situation , she says being a young black female entrepreneur has been an asset.
“As a diversity practitioner, it has mostly helped me,” she says. “I have four marginalized identities and two advanced degrees. So, my minority status reinforces my credibility on the subject matter.”
Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
“I had an advantage in that my mother was an entrepreneur in the same business,” she says. “I learned the trade from her.”
“I worked with and for other types of consultants to understand more about how adjacent industries managed their practices,” she says. “I connected with the small business resources that the city and state offer. I attended business networking events and made sure everyone knew what I was up to.” According to Jana, as an aspiring entrepreneur, absolutely loving what you do will help keep you energized through the inevitable hard times of running a business.
“If you have the desire to start your own business, make sure you are very passionate about the work,” she advises. “It will be a harrowing but exciting journey. If you are in it for the love of the work, you will survive the hard times. If you are just in it for the money, it will feel exhausting.”
Editor’s Note: Dr. Jana’s story is one of a six-part series celebrating black small business owners throughout the month of February. Check out the other inspiring stories in the series: Turning Shakespeare into Rap into Revenue, From Mechanical Engineering to Marketing Consultancy – Building Businesses Through Analytics, and Overcoming a Hurricane of a Problem.