Dealing with the issue of diversity is not easy, but organizations that do, set themselves apart from the pack. Creating a diverse, inclusive organization has far-reaching benefits that cannot be ignored, yet across the world, it is still common to work in organizations dominated by leadership of one race and one gender. The pale and male institutional syndrome is so common that it is just accepted as the normal order of things.
Questioning it is often seen as being militant and attacking. But can it be that it is more about creating a more normal world because the current normal is kind of weird in our now globally diverse world?
Talking about race and gender inequalities is uncomfortable and is definitely a party pooper topic but great leaders aren’t afraid of discomfort, they tackle this issue head-on. (Unless you are Nando’s!)
Many organizations pay lip service to Diversity and Inclusion but when it comes down to it they simply can’t bring themselves to deal with the inconvenience of it all. So what often happens is that HR departments are given quotas they have to meet for recruiting diverse talent. This is a good thing, mostly, but what’s not good is that diverse talent is recruited into unchanged and very non-inclusive environments that are often toxic for the recruits and they don’t stay.
Another challenge with the quota system is that it creates what is termed ‘diversity candidates’ which automatically puts them at a disadvantage. All of us can recall a likely conversation between managers, where one says to the other ‘I have a position to fill but it has to be a black woman candidate.’ This immediately puts whoever fills the position in the ‘you got this job because you are black and a woman’ category and not the ‘you are the most qualified candidate for the position’. This attitude, whether spoken or unspoken, follows the said candidate throughout their tenure at the company unless she challenges it and wins people over or the organization changes.
Change The Organization And People Will Follow.
We believe that if you bravely change the conversation in the organization you change the culture and create a winning environment. We have been helping organizations that are willing to go deep so that they can become a more representative organization of their community and customers. The more people around the table at your company that represent how your customers look like and think the better you are to serve your customers. We have been helping organizations to move from claiming diversity and inclusion to living it in the way they do things every day.
This does not happen without having the courage to talk about colour, culture, race, gender and asking ‘how do we become a place where all can fit in?’ This also means that entitlement from whites and from males in general needs to be addressed through a process that does not alienate and discriminate against them either. The only way this happens successfully is through a journey and a process of changing the culture and creating inclusion as a glue. It means talking about what non-inclusive behaviour and habits look like but also addressing the issues of the past in order to progress.
We have been encouraged by the change we have seen in the clients that have been willing to go on this journey, they have committed time and resources to become the organizations they can be proud of in the future. Others continue burying their heads in the sand and blaming the diversity candidates for not being able to ‘crack it’ and so having to resort to ‘what works’, meaning remain the same.
Here is a powerful Ted Talk by Melody Hobson who calls for us to speak openly about race in order to create a future we can be proud of. In this engaging, persuasive talk, Hobson makes the case that speaking openly about race — and particularly about diversity in hiring — makes for better businesses and a better society:
If you are ready to really transform your organization, talk to us so that we can together craft a strategy that will work for you. Yes, it will be a process, not just a motivational talk, or leadership engagement, although these are part of it, but a real journey of engagement.
Buhle Dlamini, author of today’s Tuesday Tip is a global business speaker based in Canada from South Africa and speaking in Canada, USA and SA to corporate audiences. His focus is on Organisational Culture and he is an expert in Cultural Intelligence and Leveraging Diversity – working with leaders to make the most of the diversity in ‘the new world of work’ and creating effective, inclusive workplaces that result in exponential growth.
Buhle’s delivery style is personal, entertaining, laced with humour, story-telling and engaging multimedia experience. A professional speaker for more than 15 years, speaking at over 45 conferences on 4 continents annually.
Chat with us if you’d like to explore how he could help transform your organisation.