Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Leading a monocultural organisation leads to narrow, one-sided approaches
You’re involved in the leadership of your organisation. You’re a good person, who doesn’t make demeaning jokes about marginalised people. Maybe you’ve attended diversity training, or even had someone run it in your company. You feel like most of your hiring managers select the best candidate for the job, but you just don’t get the right applications and you’re not sure why.
And so your organisation is not as diverse as you would like it to be.
With no one person at “fault”, most organisations employ people who mainly look and sound the same. Most companies are, especially at the senior level, some combination of white, male, straight, non-trans, and middle- to upper-class.
Yet rarely will you find someone at that level who has a strong objection to finding excellent candidates for roles whatever their ethnicity, gender, sexuality or class.
So how do you make this happen?
One-day diversity “training” is never, ever going to cut it.
Diversity training thinks the problem is simple. People are just a bit uneducated about their unconscious bias, and they just need to be shown the right way.
And of course, if racism, misogyny and anti-LGBT-sentiment is merely individuals treating other people badly, it does seem like all you’d need to do is learn the right words, do a bit of examining of your beliefs, and learn where to put job ads, and so on.
Clearly, that is not producing results.
The truth seems to be:
If your senior team is mainly white and you haven’t done significant, sustained internal work to challenge your internalised programming as a white person, your organisation will not be a place where People of Colour feel they can safely bring their whole self. You won’t know it, as marginalised people are VERY good at adapting and hiding their discomfort, but you are not getting the best out of your employees, their best ideas, their most creative input.
If your senior team is mainly (non-trans) men and you haven’t done significant, sustained internal work to challenge your internalised misogyny, your organisation will not feel safe and welcoming for women. It just won’t, and again, men won’t realise this.
Same if your senior team all went to similar schools, are mainly non-trans, mainly straight…
The strange thing is that it probably doesn’t feel like you’re creating an unwelcoming environment. And you certainly don’t intend to be. And yet, that’s evidently the result, if you look at how many marginalised people not only get a job at your organisation, and at what level, but how long they stay.
Diversity equity and inclusion work is culture change work.
And culture change work is long-term work. Imagine you wanted to shift your organisation to a new way of working, or have people embodying new values. You would never think that that would be done in a day’s “training” or be something that only HR runs. Real culture change comes from everyone, especially at the senior level, embodying the new values.
And guess what? That’s exactly what you’re doing.
Reasons to sort out your organisation’s diversity problem
Less inertia - A workplace where everyone can be themselves and where differences are routinely discussed and deal with is a place where friction is reduced. People aren’t spending time fitting in to arbitrary standards, so they have more energy to put into making projects extraordinary.
Workplace of choice - You become a place where smart, switched-on people actively want to work.
Larger potential market share - People from different ethic backgrounds, genders and classes know more instinctively how to increase your reach.
More innovation - More diverse firms develop more creative, robust solutions to issues because more perspectives are being tapped into.
Vibrant and fun - My experience of working in a place where people are actively working to free themselves from society’s programming means there is so much room for fun, for wide-ranging conversations, for rich relationships.
Community - That elusive community that people are looking for is severely limited when certain sets of people are having to keep their defence up in order to survive. If people are able to be more wholly themselves, actual community becomes possible.
It’s the right thing - Our current society is built on deeply unequal footings. Only one tiny slice of the population is given virtually all the unchallenged credibility. This means people who don’t fit that mould have to work SIGNIFICANTLY harder every day to make their way in the world. It’s our duty to deconstruct the systems that our unearned advantages sit on so that everyone has an equitable share of the advantages of our society.
You’re helping to change the world - leaders and organisations are often at a loss as to how to change the inequity they see around them. Companies and corporations are some of the biggest culprits of harm. By changing your culture to one that deeply respects
I collaborate with Suriya Aisha on a project called Tikbox, where we are working to change the depth of diversity work so that organisations can build environments that are welcoming, creative, innovative and awesome for all employees.
Without putting too fine a point on it, you need to be ready to bring us in for at least six months to a year of interventions - workshops, talks, reading groups, art, discussion groups - otherwise things will only be superficially different.
So if you’re ready to really really tackle the lack of diversity in your organisation, and you’re ready to invest in making your organisation a beacon employer of choice, get in touch.
If you think we might work together well, your first step is to drop me an email. We'll then schedule a quick chat to explore options and go from there.