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.”
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.