I don’t care what your politics are. Not today. Fall where you may fiscally or socially, wherever in the world you call home, today you see hate. You see it empowered, fracturing communities, stealing lives.
But that’s just the news – right? Now it’s time to get back to work, and put all that sadness aside.
Am I being facetious? I am. But I have a point.
When we look at these groups that are perpetuating and acting upon the most vile belief systems, one of their most prominent characteristics is homogeneity. Members of these hate groups, in large part, all look and think like each other.
Now I want to be so clear when I say that I’m not equating hate and terrorism with homogeneity in our corporate leadership ranks. But I am saying that there are very real consequences to a failure to infuse diversity into how we think, act, lead, and conduct business overall.
Most organizations today will espouse a commitment to enhancing diversity. And we should celebrate that aspiration, and the fact that there is a thriving dialog in the zeitgeist right now. But it’s simply not enough.
Today, many enterprises deploy well-intentioned trainings, or track diversity metrics… but is it working? Maybe at your organization it is – and if so, hats off. But systemically, it’s not.
In recent weeks alone we’ve all witnessed the very public Travis Kalanick fall-from-grace and the now-infamous Google memo. And while not nearly as damaging or necessarily pervasive as what we see in the news, these incidents represent micro-expressions of hate.
And they have oh-so-real business implications.
By now we likely all know that (as of 2015, per the New York Times) 5.3% of S.&P. 500 CEO’s are men named John, while only 4.1% of the S.&P. are led by women answering to any name.
Additionally, earlier this year the Boston Globe called out the Harvard Business Review for featuring Black leaders in only 1% of its cases.
But I’m not here to share statistics. We all know the issue pervades. And yet, I hope by now we largely agree that – as the data tells us – diverse teams deliver stronger performance.
I don’t believe that our biggest obstacle today is a lack of wanting diversity, but rather it’s a lack of real commitment to making it happen.
Enterprise leaders need to start crossing diversity off the “Nice to have, aspirationally someday” list, and moving it to the “Critical business imperatives we need to resource and tackle immediately” list.
In a recent episode of TED’s new podcast, Sincerely X, an anonymous – but seemingly renowned – female leadership consultant artfully articulates why progress on the diversity front (and yes – she focuses on women, but her insights can be extrapolated) moves glacially.
In short, she says, when a company is truly committed to achieving an outcome, it dedicates resources – financial, human, time, etc – to the cause. But when it comes to diversity, most companies have relegated it to a small team within the Human Resources function.
The approach she proposes, and that I second, is that leaders begin treating homogeneity as a business problem to be solved because there are real business implications to not solving it. And then put an aggressive, well-resourced, dare-I-say-diverse team together to develop a solution, or a series of solutions worth testing.
The solution (or more likely, solutions) won’t come overnight. But we must insist on near-term, measurable progress, holding ourselves to the same standard of achievement we would for any other significant business issue.
Wouldn’t such an achievement make an inspiring news story for a change?
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