DIVERSITY BY DESIGN
“They just don’t see.” “They just don’t get it.”
My friend, a global coach, echoed these sentiments in our conversation when I shared examples of lack of gender or cultural diversity in a social media promotion. Our discussion centered on other blatant oversight in company, product and service portraits. The first pattern illustrated in an author’s promotional video of his next bestseller on the art of closing was the absence of a female sales leader though a good number of “leading” male consultants gave their digital stamp of approval. “Yes, you are right”, another colleague acknowledged with dismay. “I could not spot another culture in that promotion.”
The pattern surfaced again when I spotted that women authors were not represented in a display of leadership titles at my local library. In my approach to the adult librarian I expressed leeway that a leadership book or two written from a woman’s perspective may have been checked out. I shared a list of 16 books written by aspiring women such as Cheryl Sandberg, Selena Rezvani and Lois B. Frankel in my email. In less than 48 hours I received a pleasant note for “bringing this to my attention” and an invitation to submit suggestions for additional current titles.
The last in this pattern of threes my Aunt Marilyn told me would always show up, were the profiles of a startup that developed an app. Though this entrepreneurial startup seeks venture capital, its profiles did not reflect gender or cultural diversity in the founder or staff.
Who is paying attention?
“Real cultural diversity results from the interchange of ideas, products, and influences, not from the insular development of a single national style.” Tyler Cowen
In my decade-long experience as an executive coach to varied IT audiences, I intentionally seek reflection of diverse thought leaders. In a recent interview I conducted, influencer Ellen Petry Leanse, author of the forthcoming The Happiness Hack, expressed that for diversity to be effective, it must reflect diverse thoughts.
Finding A Solution
Recently I had a conversation with corporate anthropologist Andi Simon, author of On The Brink who related to my interview with Leanse. Simon notes, “There a very big role for anthropology and anthropologists in business and organizations….This is not just qualitative market research. It is about stepping out of your organization and watching it as if you were a foreign visitor trying to learn the language, customs and values as you observe, listen and interact with your employees or customers or potential customers.”
The next time you lead a meeting examine the diversity at the table. Begin to wonder how your “Why” can be inclusive then design and promote a culture of diversity. Collaborate. Celebrate.