While many businesses may have diversity and inclusion as a key strategic priority area, the reality of implementing and living the value often falls short of the vision – organizations want it, they see the value in it, it is the right thing to do, but do they get it right? For the most part, the answer is NO!!
“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.”
There is also a dimension of diversity based on 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 different value 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 convenient 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:
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.
Develop policies and programs to build a critical majority of women leaders, executives, and managers in strategic and ethical decision-making positions.
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 women as leaders in all areas of the organization.
Promote women’s candidacies in elections through the adoption of specific training programs, recruitment drives, and financial incentives, especially in majoritarian electoral systems where women may face greater challenges in getting nominated.
Promote recruitment and career development programs that equip women with managerial and technical skills to enable them to assume decision-making positions at all levels, especially in financial decision-making.
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.
“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 remained 26 percent less likely to be in the workforce than men. While women have been increasingly assuming leadership positions in business and politics, 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 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.
The coronavirus pandemic has not impacted everyone evenly, especially women and minorities. From the exposure risk to economic impact, people’s experiences of the covid-19 pandemic have been as diverse as we are. This disparity in experiences has become a significant element of the more extensive discussion about equality, diversity, and inclusion in the nation. Organizational leaders must make faster progress toward creating a workplace that is welcoming, truly equitable, and able to hire the best people and get the best work out of them.
Phidelia Johnson is a global Human Resources Practitioner with eighteen years of leadership success. With a focus on streamlining Human Resources administration, she’s well-equipped to find the right solution to a myriad of concerns. Her experience as a commercial business leader gives her a unique ability to advocate for both the employer and the employee.
In her down time, Phidelia is a master of her kitchen, creating wonderful dishes filled with passion and flavor. If she’s not cooking delicious food, she’s stretched out with a good book. She hopes to use her experience to help others, guide company leaders to best practices, and help build better professionals and stronger organizations.