On Company Diversity Targets

What I love about this is that it’s a thoughtful response expressing some differing opinions in a respectful way. What an example for so many these days!

I think Samathy and I agree on many points, if not the execution.

It’s clear we both think that diversity is important and additive for companies. However, I think that approaching an arbitrary target vs. a cultural awareness is dangerous. As I noted in the piece:

“If companies want to help women (or anyone else whose perspective and experience they feel is underrepresented) succeed, make sure that qualified, experienced women and those with the capacity to learn are considered as part of the interview process. Once these women are hired, mentor them, network with them and recommend them for appropriate positions that may come up.

Companies can also broaden the types of experience required for people in certain positions. For example, a lot of women don’t make boards of directors because they are looking for C-level executives. Broadening those qualifications to others that can also make strong directors can yield more candidate diversity.”

In my opinion, that makes a lot more sense than a number which is based purely on gender. I believe putting people into boxes based on race, color, gender, sexual identity isn’t an effective way to view people, but that’s just my opinion. And where does it stop? Do you pick a percentage of Mexicans, Jews, LGBT, etc. to try to approximate their percentage representation of the population? Tying numbers to the approach seems weird and not helpful in my estimation.

The other issue I will point out is that you say the target isn’t for me because I am successful. This ignores that when I started, I wasn’t. Where do you think the success came from? It came from being the first person in my immediate family to graduate from college- I did so at a top university with honors based on working hard. I was one of just two women hired in my analyst class as an investment banker, not because they didn’t want to hire women but because so few at the time secured finance and other relevant degrees and wanted to be an investment banker. I worked my butt off for that position and I would have been pissed if someone else got a similar position for meeting a “woman quota”. I certainly would never want to be viewed in that light.

I also, even though successful, still find underrepresented in the sandboxes that I play in. I still think my approach above is a better outcome than, say “we have to have two women on our board because…diversity”. As I noted in my article, diversity is important for bringing different ideas, experiences and perspectives to bear, not so you can check a box that says “we’re diverse”.

At any rate, thanks again for alerting me to your thoughts on this important topic.

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