Is Diversity A Numbers Game?

Feb 17, 2016

by Simma Lieberman

Why are some people still seeing diversity as just numbers?

Once again, a well-meaning executive told me that she had met all their diversity metrics for the year. When I asked her what she meant, she told me that they had hired a Black woman as head of HR, and a Hispanic male as senior director. When I asked her, how this was going to help her organization be more successful, or how they were going to integrate diversity into their business strategy, she had no idea.

While every organization needs a Diversity Director, or Diversity VP, or Chief Diversity Director, not every person of color wants to be one. And if the title is just a glorified HR manager, if there is no budget and no power, then leadership is just continuing the numbers game and looking good for the company photo.

Where is the diversity in the business of your business? What faces and names do I see on the “legacy wall? Tell me how diversity is not only integrated into your business, but what inclusion looks like in your culture. Tell me how diversity and inclusion have resulted in breakthrough innovation in products and services. Tell me how you are ensuring that genius flourishes across functions, departments, and people. We need to see it and so do you or diversity will be just numbers with no expectations of greatness, without depth, imagination or collaboration.

Just hiring people so your organization looks good is not enough. The two people that were mentioned by the executive in the first paragraph can be immensely talented, and potentially bring new ideas and innovation to the organization. But, if you don’t know how to use diversity of thought, and skills to your business advantage, you’re wasting employee genius.

Have you considered what you’ll do differently in order to create a more inclusive culture? If not, some of your best people may leave and take their brilliance to one of your competitors where they will shine and soar.

Simma Lieberman creates inclusive cultures where employees love to do their best work and customers love to do business. To find out how Simma can help you leverage diversity and inclusion, contact her at