Time for a Change – Diversity, Inclusion and Equity
By Patricia Dammann
Over the holiday season, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit with family and friends. As I thought about my diverse group (it wasn’t always like that), I was struck by how some of the organizations I have been associated with over the years may have been a bit lacking in diversity, inclusion, and equity (DI&E) when it came to demonstrating through behavior and results. Yes, we had training programs, EEO, and Affirmative Action, but it always seemed to be an uphill climb when it came to the results.
Then I went deeper and thought about DI&E and how attitudes and behaviors are formed before a person finds themself in the workforce. How our families, schools, and communities accept, embrace, and celebrate differences will influence us later in life. How do we learn to celebrate those that dare to be different?
Last year the Wall Street Journal Women in the Workplace Series sponsored a remote event about the challenges that woman leaders face in the workplace based on a study conducted by Lean In. To further study the recent plight of female leaders in the workforce, Wharton Dean Erika James hosted a panel where professors discussed whether “the Pandemic Set Female Leadership Back.” The numbers don’t look good but there is hope on the horizon as organizations are realizing that they just can’t look at diversity in a vacuum.
The loss of women in the workplace also has reverberating effects for businesses that benefit from maintaining a gender and diversity balance. Both research and real-world experience have shown that women bring much to the table, including different perspectives, different managerial styles, and different ways of collaborating.
Fast forward to Talent Managers, HR Business Partners, OD Practitioners and all those who strive to promote employee and leadership development. How do we ensure that we are developing and promoting those that dare to be different? Not everyone has the time, inclination, or ability to play a round of golf with the boss or the boss’s boss.
Korn Ferry, in their whitepaper Future of work trends 2022: A new era of humanity, shared some research that is quite alarming. For example, only 1 in 4 of organizations currently have a DE&I KPIs for people managers though 19% have plans to implement within 18 months. While this is a good thing, it is inadequate.
The fact of the matter is that while training about unconscious bias is a critical initiative, it is not the whole solution. Companies must go further and deeper into examining their structures, processes, policies, procedures, and other organizational components for unconscious bias. Yes, it is many times embedded deeply in the organization or impacts the organization in ways that are not even known. For example, a student of mine was dismayed to discover that when using certain social media sites for talent recruitment, there were systematic barriers that prevented diverse candidates from getting to the next level of consideration. As a result, these barriers negatively impacted candidates from economic opportunities. I had no idea this was happening. (On a positive note, I have recently read that some social media companies have taken steps to address these barriers.)
It is in everybody’s best interest to have a diverse workforce. In the organizations that have greater than average diversity numbers, they were able to report 19% higher innovation revenue, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. There are many examples of the clear advantages to having a diverse workforce. In addition to the economic advantages, there are many social and engagement advantages that result in the positive emotions of belonging, safety, and inclusion.
According to Forbes Insight:
“The business case for diversity and inclusion is intrinsically linked to a company’s innovation strategy. Multiple and varied voices have a wide range of experiences, and this can help generate new ideas about products and practices. Survey respondents overwhelmingly agreed that a diverse and inclusive workforce brings the different perspectives that a company needs to power its innovation strategy. “
Let’s challenge ourselves and focus our efforts on making 2022 the year where our structures, processes, and policies are examined and accountability measures are put in place to ensure that people leaders support DI&E in everything they do. Now is the time to make big strides—let’s see a watershed of changes that will cause us in 2023 to say, wow, look at us now!
“Future of work trends 2022: A new era of humanity.”
Global Diversity and Inclusion Fostering Innovation Through a Diverse Workforce
Author: Patricia Dammann, President, Institute of Organization Development, offering online OD Certification Programs. She can be reached at Patti@instituteod.com.
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