As an awarded diversity champion, there is one thing I can say about companies and organizations that wanted to become inclusive, diverse, and highly effective.
Diversity is not a noun, it is a 'verb.' Diversity should be celebrated not something to be used as a weapon against lawsuits and the "me-too environment."
While I say 'to be celebrated' I do not mean, the song, dance, festivals, and 'smell-my-shirt' exercises. These are superficial gestures that do not translate to meaningful and profound change in the workplace- a healthy and positive work environment for all.
Diversity should not be a politically correct thing to have, it is present in all humanity, not just for minorities, differently-abled, and those that have visible differences amongst us. Everyone is different and is to be respected and valued as contributing force to the organization and society in general.
While companies and public organizations strive to become the epitome of inclusion, the pendulum has swung far too much. From forced self-identification, joining the bandwagon, creating massive investments when it is not necessary, and using aggressive tactics to win over the majority have become the "self-destruction' tools" so to speak. When it has been distorted that way, it loses its potency for social transformation.
Since the 1960s and 1980s, the proverbial 'glass ceiling' for women leaders especially for the C-suites had been addressed. Yet until now, it is still a huge issue. I don't think there is an actual glass ceiling. I believe that right now, it is about women not trying at all and afraid to take the leadership position and turn it around for their benefit and advantage. Last time I checked, it is as wide open as anyone with the breadth of experience, high-level of education, and tenacious personality that can withstand corporate politics and organizational pressures.
We need to push back on distorted diversity and inclusion. This is not what we want either. We should turn our back against the mob-based bashing and hate-mongering that uses our differences for political ends. Sorry, I am not joining your march.
Let us understand that diversity and inclusion is a verb. It contains specific behaviors, attitudes, and mindsets that needed to be integrated in our everyday conversations and interactions with each other as we make our workplaces the best place to enhance and enrich our professional, hence our personal lives too.
ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS AND BE PREPARED TO LISTEN
There is no better place than asking employees what would make each one of them feel truly valued, respected, and included in both their work as employees, as part of the team, and as a contributor of the organizational culture.
I worked with a municipal organization as a newcomer immigrant. This was totally an alien culture to me, not just the North American workplace culture, but working in a government organization interfacing with Canadians. It was coming all at once at the same time. It was difficult for the first few years adjusting to myriad of issues, interests, and differences!
If you were the HR personnel in change of inclusion practices, how would you get a newcomer employer to talk openly about themselves and learn more about their co-workers in an atmosphere of respect and trust and vice-versa? How would you create the conditions and situations where it is safe and friendly but genuine?
COMMIT TO MAKING INCLUSION AN EVERYDAY PRACTICE
In the news, we hear about lawsuits and counter-lawsuits of many types and of various situations involving diversity and inclusion. It is time to turn the issue around- from reactive work to proactive, preventative, relationship-building work which for most part, is what really about. There is no short cut.
From accommodation, we should move towards real integration towards healthy, inclusive, and innovative communities of work. The accommodation era is over. Special treatments and accommodation arrangements do not actually reflect the kinds of changes that needed to happen in the organization to embed inclusion. These artificial stop-gap measures increase the antagonism and defensiveness instead build cooperation from those employees that became disadvantaged because of it. There is not a lot of resources to go around in the first place.
Instead of pitting groups over the other, companies should invest in everyday culture work that involves not only building camaraderie and collegial atmosphere but by picking up on ways to incorporate diverse voices in issues that affect employees at all levels of organization.
IT SHOULD RESULT TO OUTSTANDING BOTTOM-LINE RESULTS
Diverse and inclusive organizations are leaders and trailblazers in their own right. They have turned the potent bomb of diversity to work for themselves. They celebrated it and rejoice in its fullest expression which leads to more innovation and cutting-edge work. The best minds are harnessed and harvest as a policy, not an exception.
True diversity and inclusion work starts in knowing the long-term business value of these efforts and why it should be a recipe for success for all organizations, for now and for the near future.
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