Diversity is one of those words that people often like to use in a multitude of references, and we hear it all around. During the Holiday season it comes up even more, especially in business, because there is an inherent need for business leaders and managers to feel good about their actions during the Holidays and often times, it leads these leaders to start suggesting activities and events for the Holidays that are, all of the sudden, more “inclusive”. Mentioning ‘inclusivity’ suddenly makes them feel like they are better people and are being compassionate with their staff, hence leading them to believe they are ‘doing the right thing’. But, interesting enough, what I find curious is that many of these same business leaders have never mentioned inclusivity or diversity as part of their business strategy. So, it begs to ask, why do so many business leaders think of inclusion or diversity only during the Holiday season? Well, I am sure that the spirituality of the season and the overall sense of giving back could be some of the reasons, but why is inclusivity and diversity not part of the everyday language of an organization.
You might think that many of these business leaders act intentionally on their lack of inclusivity/diversity, but I believe that many of them are not purposely trying to create an environment that is not inclusive or diverse. I believe that many of these business leaders have been conditioned to think in a certain way about people that are not similar to them, which can result in an apparent lack of inclusivity/diversity for that organization. Now what I think is the most unfortunate part of this whole discussion is that, although there might be an unintentional conditioning of biases, there is no intentional bravery to alter that condition and consciously try to remove biases. Many business leaders say they want to be more inclusive but when faced with hiring or promotional decisions they lack the bravery to see the potential in others that are not similar to whom they see in the mirror. They continue to gravitate to folks that come from the same national origin as they do, or are of the same gender as they are, or follow the same religious practices they do or quite frankly, just plain old look like them. Yet, it should not go without notice and business leaders need to do better.
The same “good person” feeling a business leader gets during the Holidays when they are suggesting activities and events that are more inclusive and diverse, is the same feeling they can gain when they see their workforce becoming more diverse and inclusive. In my field I see many company structures and sadly, often times, (more than I want to mention) the top leaders of businesses do not include Women, Hispanics, African Americans, Asians, this list goes on and on. What I mainly see are White American males, maybe one or two women (typically white American as well and in an HR role). What I lack to see are more Women Top Leaders, more Hispanics and African Americans CEO’s or CFO’s or in general other races in Executive Level positions. Therefore, when we have the discussion of inclusivity and diversity for the Holidays, we should not stop the conversation just at the Holidays. We also need to consider the same conversation for the entire organization the entire time.
My challenge to all of you business leaders this Holiday season is to take the inclusivity/diversity discussion to the next level. Not only consider the inclusivity/diversity discussion to decide on what decorations to put up or what food to serve during the Holiday party but consider the inclusivity/diversity discussion to also make decisions on implementing changes to your 2022 business plan. Consider this discussion to put together the building blocks to construct an organization that strives on multi-culturalism in every area of business especially top leadership roles, commit to the change. Now, my only caution on this challenge is your readiness to accept the actual challenge. If you say you are going to do it and then you don’t, you risk of losing more than what you have today. Hence, before you start making this challenge part of your 2022 business goals and engage your leaders to participate in the exercise, be ready for the commitment. When you are ready to commit to the challenge of being open minded and not just listening to the White American male in the room then go for it, I promise you, you will see your business results improve. The new inclusive and diverse workforce that you will be creating will ultimately provide business results that are more successful and will definitely make you feel good in the process.
Merry Christmas everyone from our Tua Top Tips family to yours!!!
Have a wonderful New Year!!!