The following excerpt is from my forthcoming book, Women, Minorities, and Other Extraordinary People (Greenleaf Book Group, Sept. 2018)
While it is a challenging concept, developing and sustaining a diverse and inclusive workforce is possible. The goals of Women, Minorities, and Other Extraordinary People: The New Path to Workforce Diversity are to explore the challenge of developing diverse, inclusive organizations, to share a framework for how to navigate difference, to propose a new path and to invite immediate action to begin resolving what appear to be complex, intractable issues that actually have tangible solutions, provided that company leaders possess the fortitude to explore their beliefs and the standards upon which their corporate cultures are built. These leaders must be willing to examine the assumptions that drive their behaviors, apply their own learning to their organizations, take risks and act with courage and alacrity. Business benefits alone are insufficient to drive the implementation of a diverse and inclusive workforce. Companies that focus on “initiatives” to solve the problem but don’t understand the value systems upon which company behavior is predicated, will most assuredly lose the battle to hire and keep diverse talent, and with it, their competitive edge. Diversity initiatives focus on symptoms rather than root causes, making those initiatives insufficient at driving real, sustainable change.
Nothing will change until leaders and employees within organizations begin to engage in conversations about bias, personal and cultural beliefs, social structure, assumptions garnered from the experience of their own life, their awareness of others and their willingness to suspend judgment and develop curiosity about what they don’t know and innately fear – people who are different from them. And these differences extend far beyond the visible: gender, age, race, and physical ability. Typically invisible differences include beliefs, perspectives, sexual orientation, religion, family status, military veteran status, value systems, skills, education, life experiences, thought processes, talents, and heritage. Diverse and inclusive work environments can only be created if change first comes from within each person. What is workforce development, after all, if not self-development? And employees are increasingly favoring personal development over other types of benefits. The desire for growth in emotional intelligence and self-awareness reflects the purpose-driven mindset of today’s emerging workforce. Eighty percent of business professionals believe companies have a responsibility to make a positive impact on society, beyond just making a profit and an inclusive company measurably boosts employee productivity.
A reflective, mindful workforce, guided by inclusive leaders will enable the means required for organizational systems and policies to change. Only then can a company realize and sustain the benefits of diversity and inclusion. How wonderful to watch a new narrative emerge so that companies can use the business value and competitive advantage of a diverse, inclusive, equitable and more highly engaged workforce to personal, professional, and societal advantage.
This book, Women, Minorities, and Other Extraordinary People
The New Path to Workforce Diversity, will explore the forces at play and delineate the path forward to solve this critical business challenge.
Copyright Barbara B. Adams 2017. All Rights Reserved.