Diversity & Inclusion Guide

Diversity & Inclusion

It’s top of mind for employees, business owners, job seekers and executives.

Why Diversity Matters

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion has a profound effect on so many people and although you might be uncomfortable talking about it, it’s necessary. We MUST talk about it. Why is this so important to our business?

The hard facts tell us that nearly 80% of workers say they want to work for a company that values diversity, equity and inclusion. *Source: CNBC/SurveyMonkey Workforce Survey 76% of job seekers consider a diverse workplace an important factor when deciding to accept a position.

*Source: https://www.glassdoor.com/employers/blog/diversity/  If businesses are looking to hire and sustain a millennial workforce, diversity must be a key part of the company culture. A 2016 survey by Deloitte shows that 47% of millennials are actively looking for diversity and inclusion when sizing up potential employers. And when the global workforce will be 75% Millennials by 2025, it’s now or never. *Source: https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en.html

It’s top of mind for employees, business owners, job seekers and executives. We can’t ignore the elephant in the room. Data shows that organizations that not only pay attention to diversity but make a consciences effort to keep it on the priority list actually perform better.

Now that we know how important Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is, we have to take a step back and understand what it all means.

Diversity is understanding that each individual is unique and recognizing those individual differences. Diversity is often discussed under the connotation of race or gender, but it is much bigger than that. There are plenty of differences to consider and value.

Inclusion is the achievement of a work environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources, and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.Inclusion means we are receptive to the ideas of others. Everyone has a place at the table.

So how do we define equity? Sometimes people get equity and equality mixed up. Equality means that everyone benefits from the same amount of support. However, what we should truly strive to reach is a place where all have equal foundation without any support because the systemic barrier has been removed.

We have a choice. We can help people get over the obstacle or we can remove the obstacle all together.

Once we create an atmosphere that truly embodies diversity, equity, and inclusion we begin to see actual business results. Diversity IS directly linked to performance.

Studies show that companies with an inclusive culture are:

  • 2x as likely to meet or exceed financial targets
  • 3x as likely to be high performing
  • 6x more likely to be innovative and agile and
  • 8x more likely to achieve better business outcomes

*Source: Juliet Bourke, Which Two Heads Are Better Than One? How Diverse Teams Create Breakthrough Ideas and Make Smarter Decisions (Australian Institute of Company Directors, 2016)

Companies with inclusive cultures simply perform better. Now, here’s the trick, it doesn’t magically happen. We must be purposeful in creating a diverse environment because our natural instinct is to lean toward what makes us most comfortable.  It’s human nature. Birds of a feather!

So why does diverse thinking help us solve business problems better? To understand this, we must also understand how an individual can contribute to these types of business discussions.

There are two types of diversity: Cognitive diversity and Demographic diversity.

Cognitive Diversity is diversity in the mental frameworks that people use to solve problems. A complex problem typically requires input from 6 different mental frameworks or approaches: evidence, options, outcomes, process, and risk. In reality no one is equally good at all six; hence the need for complementary team members.

Demographic Diversity helps teams tap into knowledge and networks specific to a particular demographic group.

You may be asking yourself, “Well which one is better for business?” The answer is both. In order to have dynamic problem-solving taking place you need to have both cognitive diversity so you can tap into people’s strengths, and you need to have demographic diversity so you can experience different perspectives.

Unconscious biases also play a big role in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion but many people struggle with this concept. Much of our behavior or actions are rooted in unconscious bias. And until we begin to recognize this it’s hard to change behavior.

I often hear people say, “I don’t discriminate. I don’t have any biases. I treat everyone the same.”  The truth is we All have biases, and these biases drive decisions whether you realize it or not.

Not only are hidden biases capable of controlling how we perceive a person or situation they are also capable of controlling our behavior without our being aware of their role.

Unconscious biases, also known as implicit biases, are the underlying attitudes and stereotypes that people unconsciously attribute to another person or group of people that affect how they understand and engage with a person or group.

We believe what we “think” about a certain group of people based on our exposure to them, but we don’t often look at the actual facts. Our perception drives our behavior. For example:  how we interact and make assumptions about someone who looks different from us.

Experiments showed that looking at a picture of two strangers and then asking, “Which person is more trustworthy?” that subjects chose a face whose features were similar to their own because it evoked a feeling of trust.

We all have biases that are rooted in our past experiences because we are human.  Knowing that this is normal human behavior can help us be more rational when making decisions.  For Example:  Consider getting another opinion or pause and look at the data before making a decision.

Think about the hiring decisions you make.  Perhaps focus on the quantifiable benefits that a person might bring to the table. For example: How did someone earn the company money or improve a process? Focus on this kind of data instead of focusing on what they look like or how they sound in an effort to minimize the chance that an unconscious bias could sway your decision.  Simply ask yourself,” Does the data prove out what I’m thinking or am I letting my unconscious bias drive my decision?”

Pausing long enough to check yourself is the first step to making diverse decisions. Can we acknowledge the blind spot and ‘see’ past it?

In closing, DE & I initiatives are here to stay. These concepts are top of mind in our country and understanding them helps you be a better business owner, employer, and recruiter.

Albert Einstein said it best, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.”

If you want your organization to evolve, diversifying your team can be a very effective approach and will give you a competitive edge. On that note, I will leave you with this thought:

Imagine a world where this concept was widely practiced. Where we embrace the idea of thinking independently, together.

Uncertainty doesn’t have to play a role in your next hire.

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