People creating ‘diversity and inclusion’ programmes often have a hard time. The programme for the concert is brilliant, the music well chosen, the orchestra is first class, people congratulate themselves for being so lucky to have such a programme and such an orchestra, but nobody turns up for the concert.
Next stage after the no-show is the authority saying ’ You will turn up for the concert. It’s the law, it’s your quota’. So compliance goes up. For a bit, until the concert is forgotten.
With my behavioural hat on, I offer a long(er) term plan for the gender/race/diversity programme. Forget gender and race (I know this is easy to say and that you’ll have pressing issues that you need to address; I understand, do what you have to do) and promote like mad diversity of ideas, diversity of views, diversity of interventions, collaborations, participations, inclusions of thoughts and worldviews.
Find people who are influential in the organization and ask them for help. Ask them to do the following: systematically bring others with them (to meetings, group work, team work, public presentations) who follow these rules.
- For any proposal, always bring 3 options, at least.
- Always show that you have created that strategy by including 5 completely alien points of view, from people who were far from close to you.
- Don’t accept any proposal, small or big, that has less than 3 options, has less than 5 aliens looking at it, and less than 3 bad ideas (expressed) left behind. Explain all that. Explain again.
- Multiply the points of view.
- Make a point of asking one by one in meetings of 15-20 people what they think. You Peter, what about you Mary. Not to the whole group (only some will talk) but one by one. The vocals, the shy, the sleepers and all the rest. All
- Be uncompromising about diversity of thinking and views.
- Make yourself rich, immensely rich of ideas or points of views.
- To the ones who say ‘too much, too much waste’, calm them down. Buy them a beer.
Tip: this is not about having more meetings and more ‘representatives’ of everybody on earth. It is about fast, broad, non-bureaucratic input. You figure out how. But it’s not 200 emails.
When, and only when, you have created an organization where diversity of thinking , diversity of ideas, diversity of options (small o, big O) has become the norm, at the same level as talking about football in the corridor, something nobody questions, then, my friend, you have a culture that will embrace race and gender without even mentioning these two words.
Diversity-Full-Stop in the water supply of the company, will create diversity and inclusion in the way your ‘programmes’ will not.