Has your DE&I Achieved Belonging?

First there was Diversity (D) with affirmative action, then Inclusion (I) was added to the equation and more recently Equity (E). With DE&I at the forefront of current political and social action, where does this initiative go next? How do we measure the outcomes? How do we know when we’ve reached the goals of DE&I?

As a part-time consultant with ALULA, my kudos go to these leaders who are taking DE&I to the next level—belonging (B). With the launch of their intranet site UBelong, ALULA has tapped into an important fourth variable or at least the ultimate measurement of what DE&I set out to accomplish.

Why is belonging an important part of the DE&I equation? Because it taps into an important motivation that explains why people do what they do. Belonging represents how people feel—a powerful element—about being in connection with a company, colleagues, a cause, or community, and in general with each other.

Diversity represents a number, equity measures distribution, inclusion focuses on the behavior, and belonging describes the feeling. Companies can be committed to diversity in hiring and promotion, allocate training and services to those who need them most, and practice inclusive behaviors and yet still miss the mark on creating a deep sense of community. Inclusion can positively influence belonging no doubt but doesn’t guarantee it. 

Companies tend to shy away from dealing with employees’ feelings. Yes, feelings are real and powerful motivations, and definitely challenging to influence and measure. Yet, if we don’t try to tap into and influence how people feel, we won’t be taking DE&I as far as it can go.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership, sales, and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life story. She administers assessments, designs, and facilitates workshops, and coaches individuals, teams, and businesses. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

What If Diversity & Inclusion Were Verbs…

…and we measured their progress through the lens of how people feel.

Companies are currently wrestling with how to create and weave more diversity and inclusion (D&I) through their organization and into their people operations. Some are jumping right in by establishing D&I task forces, forums, and in some cases, even creating a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) position that sits at the senior leadership table. What will be the outcome of these types of initiatives? Likely varied.

Here are some of the challenges I expect organizations to encounter on their journey to move the needle toward greater organizational diversity and inclusion.

  • Talking the same language: If you ask 10 people what D&I means to them, you’re likely to get 10 different definitions. These definitions are likely to have some overlap, and through discussion you might get a consensus. However, it might be presumptions to suggest that you could ever achieve agreement. How will organizations handle these differences and create a cohesive language?
  • Making it a priority: Sensitivity to this issue is personal. Diversity and inclusion affect each of us in different ways, either directly or indirectly. Someone may be sympathetic or empathetic to a cause but will he or she prioritized it against other competing business objectives? How will organizations keep D&I at the forefront of their missional goals, especially early in the journey when it takes a lot of energy to “figure it out” and align the organization?
  • Expanding employee self-awareness: Companies are a collection of individuals who come with their own personal worldviews, mindsets, attitudes, and behaviors regarding diversity and inclusion. On a continuum, employees are all over the line on their self-awareness to their biases. How will organizations help their employees expand their self-awareness on this issue?
  • Measuring performance: Companies prefer to measure performance using objective criteria. How much? How many? Hitting it out of the ballpark on diversity doesn’t necessarily guarantee a more inclusive culture. Companies can meet their diversity numbers and still have cultural silos and employees who feel alienated. How will companies measure inclusion—the ultimate goal—as opposed to diversity?

If you were sitting in the CDO position, what steps might you take? I’d consider:  

  • Open the conversation up to your entire organization and welcome their feedback on what diversity and inclusion means to them.
  • People learn through story telling. Let people tell their stories of exclusion and inclusion so others can learn.You might get some surprising answers through their stories.
  • Define inclusive behaviors and then recognize and reward them, so employees make those behaviors a priority. There’s truth in the statement: you get what you reward.
  • Ask people what they are comfortable committing to that helps advance inclusion. The more people talk and intentionally act upon on issue, the more their self-awareness expands
  • Refrain from defining metrics solely on hard objective numbers. When people are asked to share their stories of D&I, they’re more likely to share of exclusion, because of the pain they felt. Develop metrics that measure improvement on how people feel.

Personally speaking, I believe organizations will have greater success if they treat diversity and inclusion not as a program, process, or statistic. I believe the most successful companies will embrace D&I as a verb. For those who’ve read The 5 Love Languages, the message is that love is not a noun but a verb. Love is action, and diversity and inclusion should also be if we’re to move the needle.


About the Author:Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life stories. She administers assessments, designs, and facilitates workshops, and coaches individuals, teams, and businesses. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Diversity & Inclusion: Which Comes First?

christina-wocintechchat-com-eS72kLFS6s0-unsplashOne of the hot topics in today’s business world is Diversity and Inclusion or more commonly known under its acronym D&I. Although people are likely to have different definitions of what that means, most wouldn’t disagree that the purpose of D&I would include (1) affording equal opportunities and a working environment for all people to succeed and (2) leveraging the positive effects of diversity to achieve a competitive business advantage. However, the big question we should be discussing and deciding is whether diversity (numbers) comes before inclusion (behaviors) or whether inclusion drives diversity. Diversity and inclusion: which comes first?

When businesses focus on diversity first, they can and some of them do, end up with silos built around ethnic and gender lines and never achieve the win-win for both employees and employers. I believe diversity does not necessarily create inclusion, but inclusion always supports diversity. Why not focus first on inclusion? When companies focus their efforts on creating cultures that value and reward inclusive behaviors, diversity should be a natural outcome.

What can businesses do that will help promote inclusive behaviors with the staff they already have on board?

  1. Seek input from more employees across more functional and hierarchical lines
  2. Listen to colleagues who are speaking until they feel understood
  3. Ask lots of questions
  4. Identify misunderstandings and resolve conflict
  5. Seek to understand each person’s value and contribution
  6. Examine your assumptions about people

How well is your company practicing inclusive behaviors with the employees it has now? The truth is that many companies haven’t achieved any inclusive milestones even with a concerted effort to hire and retain a diverse workforce. The question of whether diversity or inclusion should come first is similar to the age-old question of whether the chicken or egg came first. Where will you decide to focus your efforts?


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional life coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She has a passion to help people be the hero of their own life stories. She administers assessments, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Diversity & Inclusion: More Than a Women’s Movement

you-x-ventures-4-iZ147pSAE-unsplashFairness, justice, and opportunities for all are values that I believe resonate in the hearts of most people regardless of their profession. Aren’t these some of the founding principles upon which America was built? Unfortunately, despite the best intentions, life is not fair, never was, and likely never will be, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep striving to make those values come alive in our businesses. Who isn’t inspired to support women who want to put their passion, skills, and talents to work in industries primarily served by men? I don’t think many would disagree that it’s only fair to afford women these opportunities.

Although we may agree on what the vision should look like, we may have different ideas on the best way to bring that ideal to fruition. Media, journals, conferences, and LinkedIn are aflutter with talk about Diversity and Inclusions (D&I) with named women’s groups promoted as the steps toward bringing awareness and action. These women’s initiatives are started by both industry societies and individual companies who are trying to support women.

As I wrote in What Role Do Men Have in Women’s Movements, any women’s initiative in a male-led industry that excludes men risks underserving its mission by eventually becoming a social outlet versus a sustainable empowering program. Why? Because when one sex holds the power, there are only two ways that power can be distributed: (1) those in power willingly sharing it and (2) the underserved taking it forcefully through legislation, guilt, bribery, or punishment.

Feminism, Affirmative Action, and the Me Too initiatives were all social and/or legislated initiatives that used some level of force to change the relationships between men and women. Although these approaches had positive outcomes, they also created unintended consequences such as resentment, fear, hiding, and hoarding, and are not fully sustainable when the applied pressure is released. A more sustainable approach to equalizing power is to encourage men to voluntarily share it.

I readily admit that we live in a world where many people are working towards accumulating power, so why would they give it away? Because some men are not primarily motivated by power and are willing to spread it around. How can this be achieved? By inviting men to participate in the process. Not only will men help build momentum, they’ll be able to help work through the guaranteed roadblocks.

My recommendation to women’s groups, who are trying to promote women in male-dominated industries, is to carefully think about strategy. Men don’t necessarily want to give support to a small defined cause, they prefer to donate their time, money, and influence to win a movement. Men want to get behind a vision that is bigger than themselves. As a business strategist, I would minimize any labels that make it appear as a women’s only initiative and give it a bigger appeal that would naturally be more inviting to men.

Putting energy into promoting a label of “diversity and inclusion” appeals to men, because it implies they are part of its movement. Men need to be included in the group for it to be diversified. Ask for their direct participation to help create more opportunities for women. Men will feel more comfortable claiming they are part of a “diversity and inclusion” movement versus a “women’s” movement.

In the end, aren’t women seeking a business environment that reflects diversity and inclusion? If this is true, call it that from the start. You may be thinking, “you say po-ta-toe, and I say po-tot-o, but it’s the same thing.” At its core, the objectives are the same, but a movement needs a good cause as well as a good marketing plan to engage the audience and get them to say yes. Don’t underestimate the power of marketing to advance women in traditionally male-led industries such as chemicals, oil & gas, high tech, and security.

Would love to hear comments from both men and women on this approach to a very current hot topic.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

 

The Power of Cognitive Diversity to Solve Problems

cognitive diversity

Inclusion & Diversity is a hot topic in today’s business environment that holds the underlying belief that diversity will result in better decisions and outcome. The inherent thinking is that diversity, as embraced in the components of age, gender, and ethnicity, will provide different perspectives, points of view, and approaches that will enhance a company’s ability to solve problems and grow. The concept sounds logical, but surprisingly, research doesn’t support that differences in age, gender, and ethnicity, by itself, contribute to higher team performance. Reynolds and Lewis (2017) found that demographic diversity had no correlation with team performance.

The research found that the highest performing teams had diversity in perspectives and methods of processing information when working with new, uncertain, and complex problems (Reynolds & Lewis, 2017). Referred to as Cognitive Diversity, what the best performing teams had in common were the: (1) ability to leverage existing and generate new knowledge and (2) preference to use their own expertise and put into effect the know-how and ideas of others.

There’s a high positive correlation of cognitive diversity with performance, which is independent of education, culture, and other social conditioning (Reynolds & Lewis, 2017). A person’s cognitive approach is an internal trait that’s hard to identify in the hiring process, so companies typically focus on other attributes. Unfortunately, people have a tendency to bring others aboard who think and express themselves the same way as they do. It’s also not uncommon for those who think and reason differently than the prevailing culture to suppress their different ways of looking at things in order to fit in and be part of the team.

Successful companies encourage cognitive diversity by making it safe for their employees to express their natural cognitive tendencies and authentic selves. With authenticity and leadership as two of my top five core values, I truly believe that servant leaders lead with authenticity and help others lead with theirs as well.

Reference

Reynolds, A., Lewis, D. (2017). Team Solves Problems Faster When They’re More Cognitively Diverse. Harvard Business Review


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

 

What Role Do Men Have in Women’s Movements?

D&I 2

Today’s business world flutters with the buzzword of Diversity & Inclusion (D&I). Based on my career experience as a female chemical engineer coming of age in the early 1980’s, I have a few thoughts on this topic. Today’s D&I movement is gaining momentum, likely due to the MeToo movement, and I’m thankful some attention has been directed toward this issue. D&I affects everyone—men, women, and people of all ages and ethnicities; however, I’m not convinced we’re solving the problem, because we’re not including the right people in the conversation.

What I see in many male-dominated industries is the formation of all-female groups chartered to bring awareness, support, and advancement of more qualified women at all levels. This single approach appears not to fully embrace diversity and inclusion, because its gender stratification creates silos of women within a predominantly male population. I believe these all-women groups have the best intentions and do provide internal support for its members, yet likely they have minimal impact in changing the status quo.

Human studies show people don’t care as much or are as committed to a cause if they aren’t invited to participate and included in the dialogue. Men are a vital part of growing D&I in male-dominated industries, because they can be called upon to make changes through their decisions as opposed to watching all-female groups from the sidelines who are grappling with this initiative.

If you’re part of an all-female group wanting to hold greater presence and power in a predominantly all-male industry, I encourage you to invite men into your organization. Ask for their support. Ask men to contribute in measurable ways. Challenge them to be part of the change. Don’t hold one more meeting without experiencing what men can and want to contribute to your cause.

What happens when you turn away men’s support? I share a male colleague’s story regarding his experience with D&I. Joe [not his real name] works in a male-dominated industry. Sanctioned by the national industry association, a local women’s chapter was formed with the purpose of advancing and promoting women in his industry. Joe learned of an upcoming chapter lunch and assumed anyone was welcome. He re-scheduled a few meetings to attend this lunch. At the last minute, he asked for the location details and was told he was not allowed to attend, because it was for women only. This women’s group lost out, because Joe’s stature in the industry would have given its charter credibility and influence. Joe was turned away.

How successful do you believe this women’s chapter will be in advancing its charter? My guess is it will struggle to get traction and may eventually morph into a women’s social networking group as opposed as to a force to create change. I encourage women’s groups to practice inclusion and diversity in order to live out what they seek out.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com