Diversity or Inclusion?


 

Diversity or Inclusion?

By: Tony Wright


 

Too often, leaders assume that singularly focusing on diversity can solve or improve all their organizational woes.

 

Diversity often focuses on the differences, and is referred to as “the mix.” Inclusion is the deliberate act of welcoming diversity and creating an environment where all different kinds of people can thrive and succeed.

 

Diversity is what you have.

 

Inclusion is what you do!

 

Audiences that represent a single demographic can struggle with inclusivity. It is also very much possible for minority leaders to shun others within their own racial demographic. In my 25+ year career, I’ve personally seen this unfold. And yes, it is very disturbing.

 

Diverse teams don’t have to be inclusive. In fact, many diverse teams lack collaboration.

 

Being inclusive is an intentional act. Leaders that lead through inclusion are generally more thoughtful and work harder to eliminate all forms of discrimination.

 

Inclusivity promotes equal treatment and opportunity.

 

I would also venture to suggest that equal treatment and opportunity strengthens the workforce and reduces employee turnover.

 

Being in the mix is not good enough. Certainly, it’s a start – but, it’s time for leaders to dig a bit deeper to truly respect our differences. We all benefit in the long run.

 

 

 

 

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Diversity Is Not Enough


 

Diversity Is Just Not Enough

 

How can females, black and brown people, or individuals from our LGBTQ community have a voice when they are constantly drowned out by the majority?

 

How can we appreciate the true spirit of increasing diversity without seriously including the voices of those who have been historically marginalized? 

 

While diversity can create the potential for different voices and ideas, it is inclusion that allows those voices to be realized.

 

Many firms genuniely believe that demographic diversity is the be all end all. Demographic, or surface-level diversity, is indeed a fantastic start, but all firms should strive for a deeper understanding of what it takes to embrace those of us who are different. This is often referred to as deep-level diversity. As a diversity executive recruiting firm, we’ve seen companies with good intentions fail because their culture didn’t fully embrace demographic diversity. 

 

After years of conversing with other diverse executives, we’ve learned that, while they have incredible jobs, many feel marginalized for their differences. In some cases, their only difference is the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, or their gender. More importantly, marginalization has a negative impact on productivity. And, while many diverse individuals feel constantly marginalized at work, their firms continue to celebrate their demographic diversity – claiming that xx% of its workforce is this or that – not knowing that they haven’t quite figured out how to fully embrace their own diversity initiatives in a meaningful way.

 

The cornerstone of any inclusive culture is trust. Everyone must feel safe enough to openly share the full breadth of their background, knowledge and opinions, both to each other and to their leaders. 

 

And, the leaders must actively listen in order for inclusion to happen. 

 

Without inclusion, diversity will not be sustainable. We achieve diversity through inclusion, not the other way around.

 


 

 

 

 

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Hiring Diverse Candidates Is Not Enough — It’s About Keeping Them

Hiring Diverse Candidates Is Not Enough -- It's About Keeping Them

By Maynard Webb, Forbes Contributor

 

We all know that building a company that embraces diversity is the right thing to do, ethically. But it’s also the right thing to do to make your company stronger. The performance of your business will be better if you are more diverse because your  company will be more representative of society as a whole. It better understands its customers, its community and its purpose. Don’t just take my word for it: there’s evidencethat diverse and women-friendly workplaces perform better. A report from McKinsey & Company indicates that the top racially diverse tech companies are 35% more likely to have financial returns higher than the tech sector’s national median. Companies that are more gender diverse are 15% more likely to outperform others, and those that are ethnically diverse are 35% more likely to do better than others. 

 

And yet, in Silicon Valley, where I live and work — and a place that I love for its commitment to innovation and support of founders — has been exposed as an environment that could be vastly improved for a large percentage of the working population.  There’s room and reason for all of us to become better at building workplaces that support and celebrate diversity.

 

As a leader you have to do some important work to allow all that talent to thrive — and this means creating an environment of inclusion and belonging. I went to a panel of experts for advice on what to do to build this kind of workplace. Here’s what they had to say:

 

Examine your culture. Diversity isn’t something you can just hire your way out of. To truly make the workplace more inclusive, evaluate your methods of mentorship and promotion.

 

Support a culture that celebrates inclusion. Embracing diversity requires means that you may need to change the way you work to accommodate a broad range of people.  Employ policies that are equitable for both men and women.  

 

Just as you have to be aware of unconscious biases in the hiring process, it’s important to mitigate issues like unconscious bias through all phases of the employee life cycle. Particular areas to evaluate and make sure they are inclusive include the evaluation process, promotions and succession planning.

 

Understand that workplace enhancements that also promote diversity and inclusion are also efforts that help traditional workers, as well as millennials.  This may including promoting work-life balance; demonstrating the meaning in the work, and rewarding loyalty — all of which are important to many types of workers.  Find a way to welcome and celebrate everyone and ensure no one feels isolated. Provide gender-neutral bathrooms and everything employees need to feel comfortable.

 

Listen. Consider developing a task force internally, made up of anyone who is committed to seeing your business become more diverse. Meet monthly, and give them latitude to take practices from other companies and employ them. Listen earnestly to their suggestions. And give them the latitude to speak and write about their findings — it may be uncomfortable, but building transparency about your company’s interest in improvement will help to win over your next generation of employees.  Solicit feedback from your diverse candidates and ask them to score how you are doing and share what they think you can do better.

 

Grow the circle wider. As you work to become a more modern, inclusive workplace, I encourage you to expand your circle of concern outward. Consider building an internship program with all-female or historically black universities. Adopt a school in an at-risk neighborhood, and send them supplies, bring students into the office, and commit to the school’s improvement. Let your employees tell the story of your company’s journey, in the hopes that you inspire others to follow you.

 

Remember this work must be constant and it requires your consistent commitment and nourishment, but with it you will see the rewards.

 

 

 

 

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WHY THE (ENTREPRENEURIAL) FUTURE IS FEMALE

WHY THE (ENTREPRENEURIAL) FUTURE IS FEMALE

Women own only 5 percent of startups. So, when we talk about inequality, how about talking about women entrepreneurs?

 

By: Jeffrey Hayzlett

 

This time of year is normally filled with stories about holiday cheer and yuletide goodwill to all. 'Tis the season after all. No wonder that in years past, I've typically written about Christmas movies, business or some other jolly topic.

 

Related: The Best Places for Women to Work in 2017

 

This year, however,it would an oversight to address the holidays without addressing what's dominated the pre-holiday news cycle: gender inequality and sexual harassment. Everyone is talking about these things, and not just media personalities, Hollywood celebs and other high-profile individuals. (Those are the ones making the headlines!)

 

One reason why so many are talking? While public figures, in a public setting, are the ones we're hearing about most, the reality is that sexual harassment and discrimination occur on a regular basis, even in fields like ours.

 

We can’t eradicate the underlying inequality from every industry by snapping our fingers, but we can do something to combat it in our own industry. Entrepreneurship, after all, is contagious. It’s a state of mind, a way of life: A good idea deserves to be launched, regardless of who is launching it. Yet the reality is so often about who gets that opportunity, and when.

 

Let me show you some numbers:

  • Women own only 5 percent of startups.
  • Only 7 percent of partners at top 100 venture capital firms are women.
  • Women hold only 11 percent of the executive positions in Silicon Valley.
  • Last year, venture capitalists invested just $1.46 billion in women-led companies, while male-led companies earned $58.2 billion in investments, according to M&A and venture capital database Pitchbook.

 

How do we, as entrepreneurs and business owners, help address this national issue? How do we address the gender gap in our own midst, in entrepreneurship? And what does a middle-aged, white man know about this gap to begin with?

 

I’ll start by admitting that I’m not an expert in the topic, but as a student of human nature, I see that the tools to combat this are right in front of us -- if we know where to look. Here are some steps we can take.

 

Set goals.

 

Rome wasn’t built in a day and the issue of gender parity won’t go away in a week, a month or even a year. Set a goal. For example, Oath CEO Tim Armstrong said during a cable TV news interview that his mission was to fill at least half of his company’s leadership positions by 2020 with women.

 

He also said that Oath (a company that was born from the merger between AOL and Yahoo!) is “roughly [at] the 30 percent [level] right now.” He said he wanted to achieve his goal of 50 percent female leadership by promoting from within and creating new positions in areas where women can lead.

 

He said that his initial plan was to launch a new company within the Oath umbrella, where all leadership positions would be filled by women. In fact, the entire company would employ women.

 

His plan seemed flawless until he had a conversation with none other than feminist icon Gloria Steinem.

 

She reminded him that women don’t need a separate workspace -- quite the opposite, actually. She pointed out to Armstrong that business owners at all levels need to take more risks within their own ecosystems, as companies perform better where men and women can work side by side.

 

According to a McKinsey report, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to outperform above average, financially, within their industry.

 

At my own company, I’ve hired more women than men. I know what they’re capable of and I’ve taken steps to empower them to make decisions. One of those steps involves my response when someone asks me a question.

 

“I will not do the work of my very talented team,” I sometimes reply. That means that I want those team members to make the decision. If their decision ends up being wrong, it’s a learning experience. (More often than not, my team makes the right decision.)

 

Ensure equal access to capital.

 

Despite many advances in gender equality, it’s still an old boys network in terms of financing and investing in startups. A study by Harvard Business School found that investors prefer entrepreneurial ventures pitched by men. The study also took a look at video pitches and found they were twice as likely to get funded when they were narrated by men.

 

This doesn’t even make sense to me. If it’s a good idea, with a good business plan -- fund it!

 

A quarterly report by Fundera found that female entrepreneurs on average ask for roughly $35,000 less in financing their small businesses than men. The report also found that across the board, women entrepreneurs get offered smaller loans (2.5 times less money), than men do.

 

Because it’s so hard to get funding from VCs or angel investors, especially female-led startups, many organizations have taken steps to address these challenges. Companies like Watermark, SheWorx, Merge Lanes and BBG Ventures, to name a few, are making it easier not just to acquire capital, but to access it as well.

 

Despite women-led businesses being the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurship, they still comprise a small percentage of companies funded by VCs. Some blame this on under-representation of women’s businesses, but I think that statement is a cop-out. As I’ve said before, good ideas aren’t a monopoly for one segment of the population to own.

 

In my own company, I encourage anyone with an idea to step forward -- whether it’s the president of the company or the intern. A good idea from a female entrepreneur deserves the same shot at funding as any other good idea from a male colleague.

 

Share the spotlight.

 

Earlier this year, I attended a conference in New York City. Throughout the conference, I noticed that the majority of the panels were all-male, and I thought to myself, “Why isn’t there a woman on that panel?” Our company does a lot of events throughout the year, so I made a mental note to tell my C-suite network team to make sure we have a diverse list of speakers and panelists at every conference and summit we do.

 

In fact, this problem is a prevalent one. The upcoming Consumer Electronics Show (CES), was recently called out by female tech executives for its lack of inclusion and diversity. It might be one of the largest tech events, but its keynote-speaker lineup lacked any women.

 

Twitter CMO Leslie Berland, in particular, took to social media on Dec. 3 to make her feelings known, tweeting, “I’ve got a long list of amazing women to hit your stage. Let’s talk. #changetheratio.” And JP Morgan Chase’s CMO, Kristen Lemkau,  chimed in, naming a long list of women innovators in “less time than it took to drink coffee.”

 

As a result of this backlash, the show organizers made changes to the program. And that was the right thing to do: Giving women exposure as part of a panel, as a keynote speaker or in some other visible role, helps narrow the gender gap -- if only in a small way.

 

Make no mistake about it: The problem we face is a big one. It's a systemic problem that none of us can change alone, but when we all work toward multiple solutions, progress happens.

 

As business owners and entrepreneurs, we need to take a good, hard look at ourselves and tackle this issue head on. We must ask ourselves, "Are we part of the problem?" And, if so, we have to fix it!

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