Get men (& other privileged people) involved in Diversity and Inclusion! Here's how!
February 5, 2018
We already know that Diversity and Inclusion is vital to a functional, successful workplace. Check out these posts to know more on that check out: an introduction, how to tell if it's a problem, and a lot more. But, in order for D&I to truly work everyone has to get involved. How do we incentivize non-minority groups to get involved in these important efforts?
It can be a struggle for companies to effectively employ successful diversity and inclusion efforts. This can come from leadership not having time, staff, or being unsure of how to take the actions to next steps. Here are some important things to keep in mind when thinking about leadership involvement.
Know that is wanted and the need is increasing. The majority of CEOs, VPs of Talent Management, Chief Diversity Officers, and people managers want to build a company that's diverse and inclusive. However, time, budgets, resources oftentimes put these efforts on the back burner.
So why is this happening? It's not always seen the must-have that it is. Instead it's seen as a “nice to have” or something that doesn't have a real business case. Or they start the standard attempts (affinity groups, hard to follow mentoring programs) that lose steam and meaning after a few months.
Don’t assume that all men don’t care. Janice Omadeke, founder and CEO says, "I created The Mentor Method because people consistently categorized me and put me in a box without getting to know me. Remember how you felt when someone put you in that situation and recognize that by putting all men in a group of those who don't stand of D&I, you're doing a disservice to implementing real change.”
Like all good things in life, there is a little struggle to get there. The questions become why is there struggle and what can we do to overcome it. Businesses are designed to make money! You can hire as many Chief Diversity Officers and create as many affinity groups as you want, but if Diversity and Inclusion is not seen as a high-priority investment, it may never happen within your company. We can see why it must happen and how it benefits companies to do so!
We need everyone involved, especially those in positions of power. In order to see real change, everyone has to play their part in the new inclusion movement. Men staying silent, not using their position to motivate a new wave of inclusion, is not acceptable. It takes everyone to create change, and everyone is impacted when these changes take place. Businesses get stronger, production increases, you have a greater talent pool to select from. It’s also just the right thing to do.
But how do we convince people who do not seem to care how insanely important diversity and inclusion efforts truly are? Facts and numbers speak volumes over emotional statements. Show that it's helpful to the business. Go back to your school days are reference this reliable source when talking about why D&I is helpful.
Don’t just rely on facts and figures (although they are important), remember that companies are made up of people, and people care about people. Still internally advocating for the bigger “why”. Have concrete examples of how increasing workplace diversity and inclusion will impact productivity, performance, retention, innovation, and outperforming market competitors. At the end of the day, leadership cares about employees, but they also care and depend on the company performing well.
Even if you know that this is important, and you want to stand up and doing something, it doesn’t mean that it will automatically be easy! Don’t let the fear discourage you, read these tips to know how to deal with the fear.
First and foremost, it is okay to be scared. It's a fair emotion when dealing with a large but important undertaking. While there are articles out there that prove the need for increased D&I, and companies like The Mentor Method that make it easy to change, having the difficult conversations with leadership when you're not in a leadership position can be intimidating.
Let the fear push you forward. Use that fear to motivate you to do your part in making your company a place where other employees won't be afraid to have such conversations. Prepare your statement with facts that relate to the company, state the problem and be prepared with 2-3 solutions and pricing for each, a timeline for implementation and what resources you'll need to get started. Make it as easy as possible to get to a “yes” for change within the next 6-9 months.
And, if you encounter someone who really does not believe that diversity is not important, don’t be discouraged. There are many reasons why that can happen. It's unfortunate but it's also the world we live in. When faced with it, ask follow up questions. Sometimes the person believes that hiring minorities is enough for their company. Other times they haven't looked into how well their current mentorship programs are performing. When you peel back the layers and find out why they have this opinion, it's seldom malicious. So don’t let it stop you. Test your changemaking abilities by having these difficult conversations with people that may be intimidating, against D&I efforts, or not directly involved. Go out there and make the difference, if we all do our part, we can really make a difference in this world!