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Diversity

Ok – this can be a hot topic, makes some people crazy, I get that.  But I went to a networking event recently where the keynote was on diversity in leadership.  Very interesting presentation and subsequent discussion – figured I’d write a bit about it.  That said, if you find this offensive, think I’m trying to convert you, or writing this while wearing my white hood which covers my Make America Great Again hat, then punch yourself really, really hard and delete me from your contact list.  🙂

Courtesy of my good friend Google and glancing at a few articles, here are some of the stated benefits of diversity in the workplace:

  • Drives Innovation
  • Increase creativity
  • Easier recruiting
  • Less turnover
  • Broader perspective

Those are all excellent benefits, no question about that.  If I have learned nothing else over the years, it is at least that varying perspectives, ideas, thoughts, and suggestions are not a bad thing.  There is more than one way to solve most problems for sure.  Change is NOT bad, but I’ll save that one for another blog some day.

My point is that yes, I get it.  Diversity is good.  I do not question that at all.

That said, I often say that I am in the “reality business” – not theory.  I also mention quite a bit that “ideas are easy, execution is hard”.  So with that as the background, here is my question:

How do you make “diversity” part of the hiring process without bumping into the obvious discrimination challenges?

Here is the exact language from my employer on ALL of their job descriptions:

“IBM is committed to creating a diverse environment and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status. IBM is also committed to compliance with all fair employment practices regarding citizenship and immigration status.”

How can you be committed to diversity, while at the same time not making diversity a selection criteria!?

And this is NOT my employer only, so please don’t get me fired.  This is a general statement that applies to the entire challenge of diversity.  I just borrowed IBM’s language as an example of most large companies out there.

If you are committed to making your workforce, at all levels, “diverse”, how do you do that if you don’t consider diversity in the hiring decision?

That one makes my head hurt – a LOT.

Then I stumbled into this “benefit” of hiring a diverse workforce:

“Applying the proper diversity & inclusion management strategies does not only save money on litigation expenses generated by discrimination lawsuits but is the right thing to do for the business.”

(https://saharconsulting.wordpress.com/2010/03/26/6-advantages-of-workplace-diversity/)

WTF!?  So I should try to become more diverse to avoid being sued!?  Yikes.

That “wild card” aside, as a former hiring manager, I really struggle with this one.  How can you essentially force diversity, for all the stated benefits, without becoming discriminatory?

I am SUPER thankful not to be a hiring manager currently.  I have to admit that those are days that I do not miss.

I did, btw, ask the speaker at the even I attended this very question.  She suggested “scrubbing” the resumes you are considering so that there is no indication of any sort of diversity characteristic.  Good idea in general, but if you take all of the diversity out of the resume, then you have also taken it off the table for consideration and therefore cannot really promote diversity in the workforce.  You can’t have that one both ways.

So please, pretty please, help me with this one.  I’d love your thoughts and perspective.  Or if not, just noodle it a bit and maybe your head will hurt as much as mine does right now.

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  • Sahar Andrade

    It is sad that to this day people think that Diversity is about race and color where Diversity defined means both differences and similarities that include:
    – Race, Ethnicity
    – Gender
    – Age
    – Religion
    – Disability
    – Sexual Orientation
    – Education
    – Socio Economic
    – Parental status
    – Military status
    – Veteran Status
    – Job (White collar. blue collar)
    – Geographic location
    – Diversity of thoughts
    And the list goes on. Diversity are the unique characters that make us a human beings.
    You can’t take one single sentence of a long blog and say yikes- I get that you have the link to the blog itself – I respect your opinion either you agree with me or not – when presenting a case you need to present all its facts
    While my post is NOT centered around the law suits which is crucial as average every year it costs $64 Billion to settle discrimination law suits – the numbers of EEOC for 2015 are scary till the 2016 are released, and I am quiet sure that the 2017 will be even higher
    https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/newsroom/release/2-11-16.cfm
    It is sad that you think or anyone thinks that Diversity needs to be forced- Diversity is not compliance – Diversity simply put is “Valuing people for who they are not who we want them to be – it is about respect and accepting (not necessarily agreeing) that there are differences and it is OK – it is not about assimilation it is about integration” BUT it will not work without INCLUSION
    Many write about Diversity in a seemingly positive way veiling it as caring when it is actually not. I appreciate that your post starts a dialogue though people including you and me should be open to having it
    People talk about Diversity in such a superficial way when it actually is not if you add the Unconscious Bias. micro-aggressions that I kind of perceive here
    Diversity is not Affirmative action, and is not about numbers or EEO reports as a hiring manager it is about getting the best person for the job regardless of who they are provided that the field of search for candidates is open for all and not restricted, and as long as the decision makers do not let their unconscious bias in any shape make their hiring decisions

    • You clearly misread my post – or at least the intent of it. All I was doing was asking the question, which I did put in bold, which was how these diversity programs can possibly work without being discriminatory in some fashion to any group. I’m not the one that created these programs and never did I say that we should “force” diversity. In fact, if you read my blog closer, never once do I even state my position. That was intentional. I was merely reflecting on the talk I just heard and asked, what I thought, was the obvious question.

      You know, as well as I do, that these diversity programs exist and that biases are out there. In “theory”, I get it – in “reality”, however, it doesn’t work. Yes, there “should” not be any bias for any specific characteristic, but we are also not robots so it does exist. Lots of education and awareness needs to be done for sure – and it’ll be a long road.

      And I didn’t bash you or your blog, so relax. You are, in fact, VERY correct in your statement about the legal side of things. THAT is what is sad – not the fact that I mentioned it.

      Don’t hate the player, hate the game, as the kids say.

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