For many of us, a diverse and inclusive workplace is a must for generating creativity, encouraging authenticity and in turn fostering well-being. Not to mention supporting equality, fairness and a socially-aware outlook on the world.
But regardless of the wellbeing benefits and considerable innovation opportunites afforded by a diverse workforce, it’s fair to say that some leadership teams still view Diversity and Inclusion initiatives as a ‘nice to have’. A charitable effort, something to look at when we were a bit bigger, we’re already pretty diverse, Sally is a woman, and she’s even got a tattoo
Top tips for gaining leadership buy in –making a business case for Diversity and Inclusion
Money talks and fluffy unicorns walk
Familarise yourself with the business case for Diversity and Inclusion (Links attached). Despite significant attitude change in recent years, all too many people in business sadly view workplace diversity initiatives as a way to prevent law suits, ‘too pink and fluffy’ or worse, a box-ticking exercise to make for a more ‘socially acceptable’ About Us page. This isn’t about Rainbow-wash, it’s about reconnecting our businesses to the opportunities around them.
Don’t always make it about gender
We all know the stats, we’ve all watched the rallying TED talks, we’ve all been in Leadership conversations that go “Our hands our tied!” “There’s not enough women in the pipeline”. It’s very tempting to make Diversity and Inclusion initiatives in tech companies focus primarily on gender.
However, ironically, this can be counterproductive. Yes - it’s arguably the biggest imbalance on paper – 17% of people working in tech companies in UK are women - we feel we want to do something, we want to affect instant change. This isn’t fair! Gender Bias! But sadly the fact of the matter is, many of the people in tech leadership male or female don’t, or can’t, connect with why equal gender balance is important.
Gender is becoming more fluid in society, there are many other facets of diversity, what are the differences really between a 28 year-old man and woman who had the same education, lived in the same area, watch the same Netflix box sets? We’ve all had these conversations. So my answer is – broaden out to hone in. Diversity is Diverse. It’s the whole point.
Maybe don’t make it about gender at all for a while – instead focus on introvert/extravert. Older/Younger, University/Left school at 16. The importance of Diversity of Thought, The importance of a business case for societal representation. Once people start thinking in terms of diversity=good, diversity they can personally connect with, it makes a whole conversation about gender balance a lot easier.
I wish we’d thought of that! Look at the innovations of your competitors - chances are they might have been born of thinking about a problem from a unique personal perspective. Don’t trundle into the idea wasteland – make your business a hotbed of diverse perspectives and innovation.
Think about future generations of employees. Research shows that people in younger generations care about the role their employer takes in society. They want to work for social activists they care about more about the environment than previous generations. They resent inequality and social stereotyping and are more likely to want to spend time with any future children regardless of whether they are women or men. They are less governed by a sense of corporate hierarchy, more drawn to ideas and respectful collaboration. How will your organisation win the war for talent?
Size doesn’t matter. Embed a culture of Diversity and inclusion from the outset. Have you ever noticed that the culture of a company is often derived directly from that of its CEO or wider Leadership team? Big company or small, appreciate diversity of thought at Leadership level and personal authenticity from day one. Be wary when Co-Fos say – ‘we’re so like minded’ That’s fine for a Tinder date, maybe not so great for running a business ready to ride the waves of the 2020s and beyond.
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