By Nancy A. Harris
Founder & CEO, Restart Consulting
What do diversity and inclusion mean to you? Can you answer that question? I bet if we asked 100 people we would get 90 different answers. With all this confusion, I sometimes wonder, are D&I programs the “flavor of the month?” The thing that every “progressive” organization has to say they’re doing so they aren’t considered out of touch.
I wholeheartedly believe in the intention behind D&I. But it sometimes feels like we are running in place. A 2016 study by McKinsey & Company entitled Women in the Workplace 2016 stated, ”In Corporate America, women fall behind early and keep losing ground with every step.” With all the programs and focus on diversity and inclusion, why aren’t things progressing more rapidly?
I have worked in H.R. for years and here are a few things I believe we can all do to disrupt D&I.
- Remove Hidden Barriers: The next time you (H.R., hiring managers or search firms) have anything in a job description that 1) is not relevant to the job or 2) uses phrases like “hard-working” or “up and coming,” which translates to, don’t apply if you’re over 40 or not willing to work countless hours, be careful! Choose words that don’t have “hidden meaning” and that inadvertently people from applying. Start using data science to make better-informed hiring decisions. Take a baseline measurement of your D&I culture and individual employee perceptions so you can target your D&I training efforts. Take a close look at your job description to ensure you’re not closing the door on potential applicants.
- Ask Why: As an organizational leader, ask yourself Why. Why are we focused on D&I? The answer simply cannot be because “it’s the right thing to do” or because the CEO said so. When you embark on this change, it’s hard work, with the hardest part being how you show up. Changing a process or adding a policy is the easy part. Changing a culture and embodying a different way of being is tough but it can be done.
- Excuses be Damned: We can find a myriad of excuses as to why we don’t have enough…fill in the blank. Ask yourself, your team, and your organization: are you doing everything that you can do? Or, are you looking through the same lens when your prescription has changed. We’ve got to disrupt old paradigms and stop erecting hiring and promotional barriers that are so tall even superman or superwoman couldn’t leap over them in a single bound.
I am taking a stand and saying no more. No more barriers, no more excuses and no more cowardly sitting in silence. Let’s come together in disrupting D&I!
About Restart Consulting
At Restart Consulting, we help organizations reinvent the workplace.
I believe there is a better way of working and a world in which we can be energized and excited by what we do. My goal is to help you re-imagine the way you work by tapping into the innate potential of your leaders and transforming your culture. ~ Nancy Harris