Written by Katy Goshtasbi
Posted on: January 26, 2023
There is a very common perspective employers have on diversity and inclusion. While there may be deviations, the general thought is that employers want to do what is best for their employees and for their public image.
This often includes hiring a person, or a team, devoted to diversity in the workplace. In addition, the employer may also provide some sort of “training and development” on the topic.
Here’s a new perspective for you to consider as you enhance and grow your diversity footprint to increase profits, culture and your organization’s brand:
1. Diversity isn’t an “initiative”.
We wouldn’t say that fair pay or safety in the workplace is an initiative. So, why is the notion of diversity treated differently and often called an initiative? Diversity doesn’t have a beginning or end. It is ongoing life maintenance.
Diversity is a way of being in any setting, including the workplace. I’ve discovered from working in these settings with clients, that those who really embrace and own this mentality provide exemplary workplaces where employees thrive and profits soar.
Stop and consider how your workplace views diversity. Is it something that has to be done? Or is it something that is seen as a true means of transforming your workplace, people and culture for the highest good?
2. The easiest and most graceful way to increase diversity, equity and inclusion, thereby reducing implicit bias, is through branding.
Over fourteen years of consulting has proven this method as a winner.
As humans, we don’t often embrace others as being different because we fear what is different and gravitate towards sameness. Sameness feels comfortable and safe. If you look and act like me, then I can predict your actions and behaviors. I don’t have to worry about you rocking my boat and making me uncomfortable. I don’t have to worry about saying or doing something that may be counter to your culture and thus, offensive. My job is safe. My world is safe.
The biggest hindrance to employees seeing others’ diversity as a benefit is the employee’s lack of ability to see their own uniqueness. In brand development, the goal is to gently have each employee unearth, understand and apply their own uniqueness. Once they do, a miraculous shift happens: employees look around and, instead of being afraid of others’ differences, begin to understand and welcome these differences. Why? It’s natural to allow others to be who they are and see value in their differences if you yourself feel special and know you also have unique value.
Stop and consider, how truly unique is: a) your corporate brand and b) your employees’ understanding of their own brands? What measures do you have in place to account for shifts in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging?
3. There isn’t just one road to creating a diverse and transformative workplace.
The process isn’t cookie cutter. If someone tries to tell you otherwise, seek advice elsewhere. Why? By the very nature of this topic, the process has to be bespoke and tailored to: a) the current employee pool b) the current enterprise goals and c) the forecast of the industry in which you operate.
Law firms: The diversity plan in law firms is very different from that of other types of businesses. The law by nature is based on precedence, allowing lawyers to rely on what’s always been done in the past. The legal environment is also based mostly on the billable hour creating a war against time that generates unenviable amounts of stress. Stress leads to employees saying and doing things that are often against the grain in creating a diverse workforce. This means that a unique methodology and combination of training, development and hiring practices need to be crafted for each and every law firm based on practice areas, number of employees, regionality and staffing/support.
Accounting firms: The seasonality of the accounting industry often means that there are gaps in service around the diversity and inclusion mission. There are often months, even consecutive quarters, where the focus is on meeting filing deadlines. Resources must be consistently available to break employees out of the focused rut that deadlines create. This break will not harm efficiency. To the contrary, the break will increase efficiency by allowing employees to refocus intentionally elsewhere, become energized and return to their substantive work.
Healthcare: The number of external partnerships in the healthcare space often means that external forces may be applied to your company’s internal diversity plans. Partner companies do not always share the same vision and mission when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Knowing this fact and accounting for it internally is key in ensuring that your company stays focused on your own unique mission and plan.
Technology companies: The quest in technology companies is often linked to globalization and penetration of market shares. Data becomes critical. Data and market shares don’t require a focus on diversity….or do they? In my experience, data access and market share penetration cannot happen without employees’ insights and creativity. Creativity only happens when there are diverse voices and experiences and opinions around your company table.
In summary, employees create and produce within organizations. If employees are all the same, then that organization cannot flourish because there is redundancy of thought and likely, lack of critical and creative thinking. Based on your industry type, viewing diversity from a perspective of a bespoke and tailored process and implementation will not only produce a healthy employee pool, reduce your legal risk and boost culture, but allow for your organization to be a leader in creative and innovative products and services.
Need help with this process? Email me to discuss.
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