A telling finding from Intel’s recent announcement about the results of their diversity and inclusion workplace efforts is not found in the number of women or minority candidates hired. Rather, it’s the number who have left the firm. The exit rate of African-American employees exceeds the rest of the staff. For your consideration: in the past year 209 African-Americans were hired, and 201 left; 11 Native Americans were hired, and 19 left. Why? A sense of not belonging, downsizing, limited growth opportunities, and less-than-welcoming work environments are just a few reasons.
Don’t misunderstand me. Intel has rolled out much commendable diversity and inclusion workplace initiatives, as have Airbnb and others. But the identification, recruitment and hiring of women and underrepresented minorities are negated when people don’t stay with the organization. The collective industry approach to this challenge needs a fundamental re-thinking.
I’ll offer a few thoughts:
The lack of diversity in technology and other industries today has not been eradicated by 50-years of laws, policies, regulations, or education and training programs. Company heads who operate on false beliefs that initiatives will solve the problem ignore the systemic change and leadership required for long term success. Initiatives address symptoms, and may provide short-term relief to issues of diversity. Initiatives will always be insufficient, because they do not address root causes.
What’s behind the current state of diversity and inclusion in the workplace?
- Systems and policies in most large companies hinder the ability of an organization to become inclusive.
- When individual employees do not possess belief systems that work inclusively, then a diverse, inclusive workplace can never develop.
The provocation is, to change the nature of employee and leadership development so that the company will change. Individual and collective thought processes need to expand for organizational systems and policies to change. In this way, a company’s diversity and inclusion results improve in meaningful and sustainable ways. It is not possible for this to work in any other order – there are 50 years of proof. Fixing #2 will enable the fixing of #1, if leaders are brave enough to go there. Changing belief systems is not easy, but it is possible.
I’ve offered a smattering of my thinking on this topic. But what I’d really love to hear are your thoughts. Will you share?