“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”
There are dimensions of diversity based in life experiences. These include such things as where you went to school, the languages you have learned over time and the skills you have gained during your career. Capturing all dimensions brings to the workplace a rich combination of backgrounds and perspectives that ultimately foster a dynamic and innovative work environment. When leaders focus on creating teams that value different points of view, the true potential of diversity unfolds.
Diversity is one of those things that practically everyone talks about. Most organizations – on websites and in promotional materials – bring up the degree to which they value and commit to diversity. Yet, there is consistent evidence that these organizations are not making the marks when it comes to quantifiable actions and results.
Diversity is about understanding that everyone is unique and embracing individual differences. These can include race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical ability, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other hidden identities or statuses. Diversity is about respect and acceptance. The evidence bears out what – on a very practical level – we know; diverse teams are more creative and productive.
“Although diverse teams outperform homogeneous teams, it doesn’t happen automatically. It must be intentional and cultivated.” – Phidelia Johnson
Here are some tips for creating and improving diversity initiatives:
- Adopt clear rules for candidate selection within departments, including (as relevant) the implementation of goals for achieving equitable representation of women candidates with different perspectives.
- 2.Establish concrete goals, targets and benchmarks for achieving equal engagement of women and men in decision-making, especially in the areas of policy, employee relations and budgets. This includes such things as wellness initiatives.
- Ensure equal access for women to promotional opportunities, productive resources, information and education and training – including leadership training – in order to facilitate their full and equal involvement in decision-making processes at all levels.
- Facilitate networking among women in decision-making positions at all levels, including making sure everybody rotates through roles and challenges so as to maintain an unassimilated view of things.
- Encourage men in decision-making positions to promote gender equality and empowerment of women and support women’s involvement and leadership in decision-making processes at all levels.
- Promote efforts to eliminate stereotypes, including in education and training programs, and encourage the portrayal of positive images of women as leaders in all areas of the organization.
“In order for organizations to realize the full potential of all of their employees, CEOs must create a culture where women can bring their whole selves to work and don’t have to model their behaviors on that of men.” – Phidelia Johnson
In 2019, women remain 26 percent less likely to be in the workforce than men. While women have been increasingly assuming leadership positions in business and politics, progress in assigning mentors or sponsors in boardrooms has been slow. Anyone who is unable (or refuses) to see the business case for diversity does not understand the science around diversity and how it actually makes business sense. Diversity needs to be looked at holistically. It is not a linear process, but rather an intricate and complex equation of human capital expressions that if unlocked has the power to drive unstoppable innovation and growth. A future of work in which women no longer lag behind men is within reach, but it will take a quantum leap, not just hesitant incremental steps, to get there.