Diversity and Inclusion has been at the forefront of mature talent management and talent acquisition strategies over the past several years. There still is a long journey ahead of us.
Let’s take a look at where we came from, where we are now, why it is important, and some tips to propel us into the future.
A BREIF HISTORY
The year was 1948. United States President Harry S. Truman signs an executive order known as Executive Order 9981 abolishing discrimination on race, color, national origin, and/or religion within the US Armed Forces. This order was what led to the desegregation of the US Armed Forces that historically had different units for people of color.
It took 16 years for the rest of the United States to catch up and in 1964, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 [Pub.L. 88–352, 78 Stat. 241] was passed forbidding employers to discriminate based on race, color, national origin, sex, and/or religion.
In June of 1987, an abstract research article entitled “Workforce 2000: Work and Workers for the 21stCentury” was published by William Johnson and Arnold Packer. This article was arguably the birth of what we know as “Diversity and Inclusion” today. Workforce 2000 was 143 data driven pages providing value-based information on how to better utilize a diverse human workforce in a global environment.
Today, companies take a more active role in building out Diversity and Inclusion programs. It is not uncommon to come across Chief Diversity Officers or total departments dedicated to the work.
In Global Mobility, we have Intercultural Trainers and Consultants that guide our mobile workforce to be better suited for their new home. For expats, the repatriation training is often the most crucial part as they learn to assimilate back to their “home culture”. The most mature companies will train all of their employees on good intercultural practices leading to a more cohesive company.
In striving to reach diversity numbers, mistakes can be made that put employees in physical or legal danger. As an example, LGBTQ employees may be arrested on a global assignment simply for being who they are. This takes special attention and sensitivity to ensure the proper assignment or move location selection.
To get a better understand of why these are important, let’s do three quick exercises.
Exercise 1- Why do we need Inclusion?
Thought Lead 1-Think to a time where you were not included on a phone call, a meeting, project, etc. when you feel like you should have been.
Thought Lead 2 –How did this make you feel? What did this result in?
Explanation –Typically, people will reveal that they were hurt, felt less valued, insecure, or even angry. This takes away from your team continuity and erodes at the strength of having the team in the first place. Lack of security creates a team of individual contributors rather than a synergistic powerhouse.
Those not included due to their race, gender identity, religion, sex, sexual preference, age, or any other personally defining trait is even more powerful. In the exercise above, you imagined insecurity regarding your professional belonging. Now imagine, if it was based on something as important as your religion or as sensitive as your sexual preference. This is one of the many reasons why we focus on Inclusion.
Exercise 2- Why do we need Diversity?
Thought Lead 1-What was the largest team project that you have been a part of? System roll out, new policy, M&A, etc.
Thought Lead 2 –What was your part of this project? Who did you rely on during it? If you were tasked with the whole project with no outside help, what would have been difficult or impossible to complete?
Explanation –Diversity in our workforce brings diversity of thought and diversity of experience. To understand our customers and clients, we have to have shared experiences, values, and beliefs. Without it, we are guessing at our customer or client wants.
Exercise 2- Why do we need Intercultural Training?
Thought Lead 1-Imagine you just were offered a job in a new country so you relocate your family as quickly as you can. The excitement, the nervousness, the questions from your children, and the protest of friends and family.
Your new home is great, you like your team, and all seems wonderful outside of that lingering self-doubt that you are suppressing from everyone.
Thought Lead 2 –You on your first trip to purchase groceries and you don’t know what brands to buy and the labels are in a different language. You grab what you can figure out make your way home. At breakfast the next day, your children don’t want to eat the cereal because it “tastes different”.
Thought Lead 3-Your first month passes and you are starting the get the hang of the groceries, but your spouse still hasn’t found a job and is getting depressed. For some inexplicable reason, you aren’t performing well in the new role and are afraid that you will be fired. Your new team doesn’t seem to want to spend as much time with you. You and your manager keep having misunderstandings.
Explanation –The above example is very common when neither the receiving team nor the employee understand the nuances of their culture. Sense of time, power distance, idioms, humor, work hours, etc. all go well beyond having the technical skills for the job or ability to speak the language.
Helping the team understand what the new team member is going through and how to welcome them is just as important as informing the new team member of what to expect.
7 THOUGHTS TO PROPEL US INTO THE FUTURE
1. Make hiring decisions based on both immediate and projected needs
· By looking at one, two, or even three roles ahead when examining candidates, you will have a culture where the candidate can ask “where could I be in five years” versus the other way around. This also ensures that you have hired the best candidate for the long-term business needs and increase long-term engagement.
2. It is not “Inclusion”, it is “Belonging”
· Inclusion denotes a power distance where one group needs to include another. That is not the case on a team. Your team is a community and each of you has a role in the community’s success.
3. Bring in diversity of thought, not just diversity of appearance
· Many organizations strive to show data shifts in their diversity percentages without taking the time to understand why they are doing it in the first place. You want diverse backgrounds, experiences, knowledge. That is often a more complex profile from simply sex or race.
4. Combine your Intercultural Awareness with Diversity and Inclusion
· Both of these areas are after the same thing – bringing in diversity of thought and ensuring teams work well together. D&I programs are expressly after pulling in talent from different cultures and it is important to remember, blending of cultures is just as sensitive and important domestically as globally.
5. Build community and foster trust
· Politeness, seeking understanding, and respect are all paramount in ensuring a healthy team environment. This takes reinforcement through training, leadership, and assessments to see how you are progressing. Team building in both events and daily practice creates an environment of trust that also builds the community. This team building should encourage each member to help another for the greater good of the team.
6. The enemy is always outside of the gate
· Military units are conditioned to have absolute trust in the person to the right or left of them. This trust is what makes them strong. Disagreements will always occur but the environment of trust, respect, and belonging should reinforce that no team member is ever their enemy.
7. Take time for Diversity, Inclusion, and Intercultural Awareness for your Global Mobility Program
· There are three factors of this – how the employee will adapt, how the new team will accept, and how the new country or location will accept. These are important to differentiate because in order to have a successful assignment or move, the team and employee will need to be able to work well together. When discussing Diversity and Inclusion, it should be understood that certain countries have religious or legal restrictions on different lifestyles. Your employee safety is the most important consideration.
Published:July 30, 2019
Vendium Global, LLC