It takes one
simple story that might change your mind about inclusion
It takes one
I work in data all day. I can pull up a report that tells you since Dior showcased their spring summer 2017 collection two days ago, the google search for “fencing jackets” has begun to rise. Data is powerful that way. Very factual and many times hard to argue with.
Similarly lots of people quote thousands of data points and metrics to prove that women and minorities are needed in workforce. Example, there is such a report showing employing women in sales process, has improved overall sales.
Data is powerful that way. But sometimes, one small anecdote can be more powerful.
There is this business leader, C-level of a huge corporation (forgot the name). He mentioned the absolute, imperative need for more women at leadership-level in all organizations. He quoted this example
“We had a change in leadership team, and all the heads of business units gathered together to ideate a team building exercise. Team building is a thing done every so often in companies so people can get to know each other better, often see a different side of a person. A benefit of this at times, during intense, cut-throat business meetings, people are less likely to take critical suggestions or “insults” personally. Also perhaps if you have a thing for a co-worker, this is best chance to get to know them better!
There were all 5–7 men in total. And one woman.
“What can we all do together this evening”, the leader asked.
“We can all just do a round of golf”, another said.
“Yeah we don’t mind that.”, said the others. Acknowledging that this is what they usually do.
The woman leader said, “Hey, we play golf every year, instead how about we do this thing called Habitat for Humanity.”
“What exactly is that? I’ve heard of it”
“You help builders develop houses for the needy and poor. They take volunteers who help with painting, woodworking, simply construction tasks. You usually all work together. It feels great at the end because you’ve done something meaningful together”
”Yeah sure. Let’s try that this time. Will be different for one. We played golf the last 5 years”
The team ended up spending the afternoon with a small construction project for a hurricane-hit family.
When they came back that evening and having their drinks together, there was a different energy in the group. Men were so open and forthcoming about things. I saw a side of many people. This SVP I had known for 4 years just told me he grew up with dyslexia and used to find it difficult until he was treated in middle school. Immediately I developed more respect and empathy for him. I remarked in a friendly tease, “No wonder your reports always have so many spelling errors!”
I wont be so hard on him next time. And I really like my whole team more.”
It just takes one thought to shift your mindset a little bit. And most times, that thought process will not come in a homogeneous environment. You will achieve a lot of robotic efficiency with that, but rarely an innovation. And life’s boring without innovation.
“I got the new iPhone!”
“OMG I’m so jealous. I’m due for a new one next year”
“I got the new iPhone!”
“Oh. I am a Samsung person. My phone already has all the features as yours. Boring! ;p”
You can never have commentary like this without innovation. We will simply be staring at silence. Without innovation, the conversation would be very self-contained and Ron Swansonesque
“I got the new iPhone?”
“You have the same phone that I, my mother, my boss, my barber, my sister, my priest have. There’s nothing special about your phone. This conversation is pointless”.
If your organization has a homogeneity* of leadership, your organization might have achieved a high-power and high-efficiency status. But your organization has begun it’s decline. You an individual level would be declining too
So that’s all it takes. Just one thought. From some one very different from you.
Sounds all good Divya but what if I’m not a large corporation but just a regular person?
In that case demonstrate inclusiveness in the company you keep. Make friends with people different that you. Invite them to a movie out with your regular friends. Read books and blogs on thing you don’t normally read. Be able to entertain thoughts that you don’t normally think about. And you’ll be fine.