Dr. Shelton Goode, DPA
At the Excel 2017 Conference in Chicago, I addressed a gathering of more than 1,000 equal employment opportunity leaders and fair labor practice professionals from organizations around the country. For decades, these professionals have talked about and demonstrated how differing perspectives in the workplace can improve innovation and problem-solving. But today, some of these differences are setting up opposing camps.
Diversity, in the form of differences, thoughts, opinions, and beliefs, is now being used by some to divide. Therefore companies, communities, and our country need courageous and authentic leaders more than ever before.
Agile leaders who will make the places where we work, live and play more inclusive for everyone regardless of their dimension of diversity. Agile leaders who will create an environment where people can work toward a common goal by asking tough questions, expressing themselves fearlessly, bringing their whole selves to work and knowing that they are valued and respected and being listened because they are different.
This is how innovation, progress, and change happen!
Yet too many companies still approach ‘diversity and inclusion’ as a program or initiative, when they should be viewing every process and goal of the organization through a holistic culture change lens. It takes more than winning awards, increasing numbers, checking boxes and targeting ads to create a company where excellence is achieved through inclusion.
It takes engaged, agile leaders with the courage to create a platform for change.
In my upcoming book Winter in America: Mega Trends Impacting Companies, Communities and the Country, I discuss the role of diversity professionals in helping to cultivate authentic and courageous leaders who will lead and advance the next generation of employees. They, and the people they bring on board, will become a company’s best hope for enriching its workforce with talent that may have otherwise been overlooked.
Today’s complex problems demand a variety of issues to be solved, and companies that do not value an array of perspectives will usher in a ‘diversity apocalypse’ where the organization will lose growth opportunities and suppress innovation. It is going to be up to courageous and competent diversity leaders to help companies conduct challenging discussions about barriers to inclusion, provide resources to combat bias and systemic discrimination, and refocus efforts to bring about real progress and sustainable change in the organization.