“D&I” stands for “diversity” and “inclusiveness” (or inclusion). Diversity refers to human differences, particularly group-identity based or demographic differences. Inclusiveness is making sure as many different people, voices, perspectives, beliefs and values are: taken seriously, heard fully, actively involved in decision making, and exercising equal power
Two things have changed in the “diversity conversation” in the last 15 years. One, we now have technology that allows us to examine how the human brain works while the human is still alive. We’re learning a lot about how we really operate, which is challenging our previous beliefs. Two, we now have scientific evidence that diverse human groups achieve better results than individuals (even experts!) and non-diverse groups — including higher profits. However, we get those superior results only if we leverage diversity by creating an inclusive environment – one where effective communication, effective leadership, shared power and meaningful inclusion of different people and perspectives are the norm.
The jury is in: the “old school” approach to diversity doesn’t work. In fact, the old school way — focusing mainly on numbers and representation, doing it only because it’s “the right thing to do”, and allowing trainings that shame or silence people – can make things worse. However, “new school” approaches not only work, they are increasingly essential in a world where diversity is a given. New School D&I requires articulating the business case for diversity, identifying meaningful goals and measuring progress, creating an inclusive environment where everyone can bring their brilliance to work, and insisting on excellence. This requires two things: organizations to develop better systems, and leaders to develop better interpersonal and communication skills. There’s nothing “soft” about skills that create solid results and a healthy bottom line.
Human beings didn’t evolve to interact successfully with people different from us. For most of our 150,000 year history, it’s served us to mistrust strangers. In today’s civilization where we encounter more people every hour (and vastly more human diversity) than we evolved to interact with in our lifetimes, avoiding or mistrusting people who are different from us undermines our individual and collective success. Yet even when we believe this, most of our behavior is driven by immediate, automatic processes in our ancient brain outside of our conscious awareness.
I help people like you build awareness, knowledge and skills to effectively navigate this new reality. I can help you, your team, and your entire organization create and maintain an inclusive environment where brilliance, excellence, and human diversity flourish. I can teach you to communicate more effectively across differences and get better results.
Diversity and leadership in the workplace is about getting out of each other’s way…and getting out of our own way.