How to Make Diversity a Reality
By now, most of us know that diverse groups of people working together lead to more creative outcomes. The data doesn’t lie: Inclusive teams make better business decisions 87% of the time, according to one study. Organizations that value diversity and inclusion benefit from happier and higher-performing employees, greater innovation, enhanced value creation, and more profitability. But diversity is more than just a ‘business case’ that improves the bottom line. It’s complex. It requires consistent reexamination. And, at the end of the day, it’s about fulfilling our universal human need to feel a sense of belonging.
Leaders in the FQ Lounge @ Tribeca Film Festival discussed why diversity of mindset is the secret to cultivating acceptance, and for creating cultures where we can all succeed in the workplace.
There is No “One-Size-Fits All” Solution
Accept that achieving diversity isn’t easy. In order for change to happen, it requires some tough conversations and addressing real challenges and concerns. Yrthya Dinzey-Flores, VP, Diversity and Inclusion and CSR, Warner Media, says, “We’re a little afraid of having that conversation, so we have to stop underestimating the value of how much courage we have to have to actually enter into this conversation. On the flip side of that, [it’s about] developing enough empathy so that we can become vulnerable in those spaces to actually have these conversations. It’s tough, but it’s a journey that’s absolutely worth it because the reward will be immense.”
Beware of Diversity Without Inclusion
Don’t invite us to the table because we are women, invite us because we’re the best at what we do. Katie Klumper, Principal and General Manager, Deloitte Digital and HEAT, agrees. She says, “It’s great to be invited to the table. It’s not great to be [a token] and invited because of gender, race, or sexual orientation. [It’s] making sure that we are celebrating everyone for their uniqueness. It’s, ‘I want to invite you because you’re awesome at this and this is the value you bring.’ [It’s] making sure that we create that culture, not only internally, but externally as well.”
Actions Speak Louder than Words
Leaders and companies need to walk the talk and move beyond merely admiring the problem to taking real action steps for change. Lucinda Martinez, SVP, Multicultural and International Marketing, HBO, shares, “To me, the only diversity that matters, is the one that you can see. A lot of it is conversation-based, not action-based. I see that corporate America approaches diversity from an initiative standpoint instead of [asking] how diversity is showing up in every single way that matters to the business.”
Set an Example from the Top-down
We should treat diversity as a KPI just like any other business goal, and hold leaders accountable. Kelly Edwards, Head of Talent Development and Programming, HBO, says, “The boss needs to put those primers in place and make sure everyone is following. Also, tie it to a bonus structure. If there’s a financial incentive, that would help too. Because who cares what’s in someone’s heart? I’m not necessarily going to change someone who is racist, but I want them to model the behavior so that everyone else knows what’s permitted. Eventually, it will become part of the norm.”
Keep Moving Forward From a Place of Power
It’s our experiences that shape who we are and what sets us apart. Don’t hide them; share them in order to more fully stand in your power and expand others’ points of view. Dinzey-Flores insists that, “We’ve gotten to a place where, culturally, our society is much more comfortable with transparency. We have finally gotten to a place where we can tolerate hard truths about who we really are. I do honestly feel that we have reached this moment in time where we have the ability to actually make a catalytic shift—in equity, inclusion, diversity, and belonging—for the better. It’s not going to be perfect because we’re human, but we are moving towards a better place.”
The business impact of diversity and inclusion is undeniable, but it’s also important for organizations to understand that D&I is more than just a competitive strategy. Diversity is about celebrating our unique qualities. Our differences make us stronger. We’re better together. Change takes courage. Nothing is perfect. Progress doesn’t happen overnight. Let’s commit to doing better so we all win.
Read more on the value of diverse and inclusive workspaces here:
How To Create A More Inclusive Workplace
In Her Words: The Best A Company Can Be & Being the Change
The Leadership Traits That Will Empower You- and Your Team