What's really causing your business issues?
Every organization wants to be sustainable. For-profit organizations work to satisfy owners, shareholders and stakeholders by increasing profit. Not for profit organizations need to ensure they have the funds and donations necessary to move forward with their mission. Small businesses may want to attract new customers so that they can grow or maintain their profit margins.
Despite the type of business you’re in, the truth is, business issues are not unique. Every company with employees has trouble with recruiting and retention at some time. They struggle to identify a talent pipeline and who is qualified for leadership positions within the organization. They want to build new and innovative solutions and attract a consumer base.
Too often, organizations look at all of these issues in a silo.
I have found that there is one thread that underlies all of these issues… and that thread is diversity and inclusion.
I've been accused of finding diversity in everything. Give me a business problem, and I can point to where diversity and inclusion (D&I) is connected to that problem. I can also tell you how D&I is probably contributing to, if not the main reason for, that problem. For instance:
- Recruiting: Businesses often decide to work with different institutions or organizations to broaden their recruiting pool and gain access to historically underrepresented groups. However, do they consider who it is that they send to do the recruiting at these institutions? Do they think about how their interview questions may be biased towards a particular worldview? Better yet, do they think about the bias recruiters themselves bring to the answers they expect to hear in these interviews?
- Promotions: When considering promotions, do you question your definition of what a leader looks and acts like? Have you ever questioned why you value certain qualities over others? How much do you value people who do work in the same way you do over those whose methods are quite different, even though they’ve proven to be as effective?
- Products and services: Do you have trouble attracting and retaining a certain customer demographic? Have you considered that your communication and advertisements might fall short because your messages don't speak to certain cultural values? Even more, do your processes and procedures reflect a particular worldview that might unintentionally exclude particular groups from your services?
From financials to employee engagement, to product innovation - diversity and inclusion tie it all together.
We know that visible diversity on a team makes us smarter.
The list of the links between D&I and business issues is endless. And yet, it's always curious to me that business leaders don't often consider D&I to be a part of the overall problem.
I think it's because we want to believe that we are better at relating to other human beings than we actually are.
Instead, we're really good at assuming everybody else is just like us... only to find out while working on a difficult project, in the heat of a conflict - or sometimes just while having a simple discussion - that they aren't.
Until we're able to admit we're just not as good at connecting with people as we think we are, we can't even begin to think about D&I as the root of our business issues.
If you want to resolve those issues, however, I guarantee that D&I is the place to start.
If you’re interested in learning about the Top 5 Diversity Myths, as well as steps to overcome them, download our free e-book here.
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