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Is Your Company Invested In Diversity?

Judith Sherven, PhD

Originally published by Judith Sherven, PhD on LinkedIn: Is Your Company Invested In Diversity?

More and more, companies are facing into the challenges of Diversity in the Workplace. And with that comes issues of Inclusion and Belonging. But what about Self-Respect and/or Safety for every individual in the workplace?

When we include the last issue, we get a full appreciation for what DIBS could mean for everyone: Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging, along with Self-Respect and Safety.                

Let’s take a look at each of the elements in a bit more detail:

*** Diversity: Lots of people want Diversity to mean a statistical number with various allocations for hiring and promoting Women, Blacks, Hispanics, and so on. But just like in neighborhoods, cities, and countries around the world, collections of people don’t come in statistical formulations, do they? Instead they come in aggregations dependent on culture, employment, religion, and so forth. So wouldn’t it be best if Diversity in the workplace was more of a wide-sweeping invitation for hiring and promotion to be a reflection of experience, excellence. and economy? By that I mean, that we would all expect recruiting and hiring to be fair with respect to gender, race, and/or culture/religion WITH the key proviso that the best person be hired at all times, with economical realities in mind. 

Many institutions have worked to get beyond unconscious bias by making the initial steps of the hiring process “invisible” to the recruiting team, meaning that name, age, geographical location etc not be provided until the final in-person interview is necessary. In fact, a friend of ours was among the first group of violinists to audition for the New York Metropolitan Opera many years ago when every candidate walked in stocking feet to a chair behind a curtain before playing their audition piece. This way the judges had no idea what the person looked like, nor what their gender/race etc were. The surprised judges ultimately selected three people, all female, our friend among them! 

*** Inclusion: For Inclusion to actually work, all personal, gender, and cultural differences have to be honored and included. For example, at one smallish company we know about, as each employee’s birthday is about to occur the CEO’s admin asks that person if they will feel comfortable with a birthday cake celebration in the lunch room on their special day. If so, then there’s a fun party planned for the entire company. If the person requests no celebration, than that’s respected. During the Indian holiday of Diwali, at one company there are several celebrations each year, with an open invitation for non-Indians to participate and wear Indian garments if they are so inclined. For Inclusion to work, everyone of any age needs to be honored. AND when differences in values and sensitivities collide then there needs to be a company norm for mature conversation and processing of the experience that is not punitive to either individual. Rather than invisible “victim” complaints to HR, if someone feels “unsafe” then there can be a cultural norm to invite a third party to help process the conversation, whether that person is in HR or another respected member of the company. 

*** Belonging: With more and more companies hiring people from other countries, and more people not retiring until in much later years, the issue of Belonging requires everyone to expand their curiosity about other people, as well as expand their ability to share their own “story” with others. Only when we are understood can we ever feel that we actually Belong. Only when others want to know us can we feel that we are safe to Belong. With this in mind, here are a few Team Building experiences you may want to use that expand everyone’s sense of Belonging:

- Leader At An Early Age: Each person gets 2-3 minutes to describe how they were a Leader some time before the age of 12. You can allow questions or not, depending on the numbers of people and time limitations.       

- Big Success, Risk, or Challenge: Each person gets 2-3 minutes to tell the story of some amazing moment or event in their lives where they were incredibly successful, took a big risk, and/or survived a huge challenge. Same as above re whether or not to allow for questions.                                         

- Describe Your Job: Most people don’t really know what other people actually do in their every day jobs. Same as above re whether or not to allow for questions.

*** Self-Respect and/or Safety: Because DIBS can only really work if everyone is involved and protected, there must be an emphasis on each person holding themselves and their values/culture/gender/race etc with Self-Respect. And when an individual believes that someone has violated their personal comfort, then in order to keep both parties Safe, workplace culture must move into a more mature venue where everyone is expected to protect their own Safety and Self-Respect by speaking up, perhaps with a witness or mediator present in order to prevent misinterpretation, fear of retaliation, etc. Only in this manner can DIBS be an avenue for greater awareness and maturity for everyone.

What has been your experience with DIBS done well, and perhaps not so well?  

Judith Sherven, PhD and her husband Jim Sniechowski, PhD have developed a penetrating perspective on people’s resistance to success, which they call The Fear of Being Fabuloustm. Recognizing the power of unconscious programming to always outweigh conscious desires, they assert that no one is ever failing—they are always succeeding. The question is, at what? To learn about how this played out in the life of Whitney Houston for example, and how it may be playing out in your own life, check out their 6th book.

Currently providing transformational executive coaching, leadership training, and consulting for LinkedIn and a dozen other Tech companies and individuals around the world, they continually prove that when unconscious beliefs are brought to the surface, the barriers to greater success and leadership presence begin to fade away. You can learn about their core program “Overcoming the Fear of Being Fabulous."

Their 7th book, short and to the point, “25 Power Speaking Tips That Will Leave Your Audiences Wanting More,” is available via Kindle.