In the day when Tim Crook, Apple’s CEO, had to send a note to everybody in the company reminding them that without diversity the company would not exist, doing so on the back of his US government ban on immigration and religion, it is good to reflect on what diversity means and, above all, how we can achieve it.
Diversity of … anything has always been, will always be the organization’s oxygen. It’s now time to buy extra oxygen cylinders for every corner of the firm.
Faced with the dramatic daily events in the US, a cultural war and coup d’etat, an unclassifiable system takeover by one executive order at a time, many of us may wonder is what we see has any form of preventive measure even if a slow cooking way. It may turn up that the organization, the firm, establishes itself and remains a laboratory of critical thinking, an unlikely sanctuary of sanity. Maybe.
Let’s start with labels: Diversity and Inclusion. Do not restrict ‘diversity and inclusion’ to diversity of gender and inclusion of minorities. The best way to inject those is to inject diversity, period. The best way to inject diversity-period it is to practice it. The best way to practice it is to adopt business process norms that, far from controversial, are directly connected with business needs. And they look unsuspicious and healthy in their own merits. Then, multiply.
The following is a modest attempt to ‘practice diversity’, and, warning, it will look simple, small and procedural. Worse, you may say ‘we are doing that already’. And if the latter, I beg you to find out the real truth. Just double check, will you?
Rule 1: Key positions (strategic proposals, for example) always accompanied by a least three concurrent, parallel, or divergent, from people alien to the system: anybody from a different ‘alien’ department to external world. [This is what we should do. Marketing agrees. Opinion Leaders A and B think differently.This is what they said. We’ve check it out]
Rule 2: When the recommendation is made, none of those strategies, big S, small s, without three diverse operational options, one recommendation and full explanation why the other plausible two have been discarded [From what we propose to do, as above, there are also options B and C. This is why we don’t recommend them]
Rule 3: Different form above, everybody in a key team structure compelled to bring in specific (costumer, for example) insights gathered from people other than themselves.
Now, multiply this.
When the organization is used to several views, several positions, several inputs, several possibly contradictory options on many of their routine processes, it will be much easier to integrate a broader diversity and inclusion such gender, minorities etc.
If being diverse in thinking is the norm, not as a theory, a policy, a dictation form the top, but day to day DNA practice, then the organization is vaccinated against tunnel vision, groupthink and individualistic alpha male and female liner thinking. Diversity needs daily mental gym.
Practicing diversity, as opposed to preaching it, will spread those behavioiurs which will be then entrenched in HR hiring policies (such as recruitment) and management practices. If all this diversity is embraced behaviourally, and at internal epidemic level, and you manage to align everybody, then you have true employee engagement at its best.
Crook quoted Luther King: ‘We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now’. Employee engagement pioneer?