As social issues related to inequalities and inequities re-emerge near the top of our national conversation, many business leaders are appropriately trying to leverage their influence to make a difference. However, you must first lead yourself well before you can lead others. Going a step further, we should lead our organizations well before our organizations attempt to influence and lead our communities. For most organizations, this should start with building a diverse and inclusive culture.
In this episode, we’ll be talking about how building a diverse team helps us build a stronger business, and we’ll be joined by Dethra U. Giles, CEO of ExecuPrep — an HR consultancy — to help us create organizations that leverage our team members’ differences as an advantage.
Welcome to episode three of One Next Step.
(04:02) Today’s listener question: How do I build a diverse team and leverage diversity to build a better business?
(06:25) The definitions of diversity and inclusion and the difference between the two
(09:00) What organizations get wrong about diversity and inclusion
(09:56) What businesses can do to build a more diverse team and inclusive environment
(14:10) The biggest pitfalls associated with the pursuit of diversity and inclusion
(16:39) The consequences of insincere conversations, lack of commitment, and inaction
(20:23) How to acknowledge, leverage and celebrate differences amongst team members
(24:18) Tricia and Lisa share their takeaways
(26:12) Today’s One Next Step: Download our activation guide, “Tackling Taboo Topics,” which will help you have productive, meaningful one-on-one conversations at work
Links & Resources Mentioned
Your One Next Step
In each episode, we highlight one next step for you and provide an activation or delegation guide to help you immediately take action, start applying what you learn, and get your team to help you.
Your Next Step: Download our conversation guide, “Tackling Taboo Topics,” based on Dethra’s D.A.R.E. model to help you have deep, productive conversations with your team members as you identify the gaps in your organization in your pursuit of diversity and inclusion.
Designed with one-on-one conversations in mind, we also recommend the activation guide when you’re struggling to understand someone’s perspective or when you feel someone’s differences creating division within the team.
Quotes From This Episode
“The first thing we have to do is accept that diversity and inclusion are an uncomfortable conversation for everyone and start becoming comfortable with the discomfort.” — Dethra U. Giles
“Addressing people issues without addressing process issues is like a play having a bad script and blaming the actors.” — Dethra U. Giles
“People don’t just want to talk about diversity and inclusion; they want to go from conversation to commitment to actual outcomes.” – Dethra U. Giles
“Great leaders put themselves in uncomfortable situations and conversations because it’s the right thing to do, and they also make sure conversations turn into something meaningful and actionable.” — Tricia Sciortino
“The worst thing we can do about diversity and inclusion is not do anything.” — Lisa Zeeveld
Diversity and inclusion are related, but they’re not the same thing. Diversity is the act of having a variety of people on your team. Inclusion takes it a step further by fostering an environment with processes that nurture, leverage and celebrate these differences for the improvement of the organization. As Dethra describes it, diversity is like a produce section with lots of different fruits in one place, but inclusion is more like a fruit salad, where each individual fruit maintains its flavor and works cohesively together for a better end.
Leaders must accept the following three things as they attempt to develop diverse and inclusive organization:
- It’s an uncomfortable conversation for everyone. Remember, almost everyone in your organization has been told race, religion and politics have no place in the workplace even if they affect it. Also, most conversations associated with these topics are tense and divisive so people will be nervous about opening up. By owning and vocalizing the discomfort, you’ll help others overcome their discomfort as well.
- There is no perfect way to handle it, and you’re going to make mistakes. Public, official conversations about ethnic, gender or generational diversity in your organization are likely rare, which means no one internally will be an expert. Expect missteps, listen carefully and empathetically, communicate and apologize openly, course correct quickly, and keep moving forward. Don’t let perfection prevent progress in your organization.
- We, as leaders, haven’t built the historical credibility to have this conversation and navigate it well. As you do this work, the organization’s or specific leaders’ past behaviors will be called into question by your team and likely by you. (Even some of your past behaviors may be discussed.) Ways in which diversity and inclusion have been prevented will be exposed. While it may be disheartening to hear, this is why you’re doing what you’re doing. You’ll want to defend or explain your behaviors. Resist the urge. First, listen to learn. If you don’t understand, ask clarifying questions like, ‘What would you have liked me or the organization to do differently? What specifically about that situation affected you negatively?’ It’s possible that you unknowingly offended someone, your well-meaning behavior had unintended consequences, or you simply were unaware of something that happened in the organization. Regardless, you’re building credibility in the future by how you handle things today. Grow from where you are.
Our focus is turning conversations into commitments and commitments into outcomes. Without a plan of action, all of your efforts will not only be wasted, but they’ll have the potential of undermining your team’s belief in your sincerity, which could affect their trust in you. To effectively take action, follow these best practices:
- Assess your organization and identify the gaps.
- Make specific, measurable, and time-bound commitments.
- Communicate realistic long-term and short-terms expectations.
- Show empathy for your team members’ impatience.
Reflection Questions for You | Conversation Starters Your Team
How well does your organization’s board, leadership team and staff reflect the diversity of your current customer base? What about the customer base you hope to serve the future?
What’s it like working for your organization if you’re not the majority — as relates to gender, age, ethnicity/race, religion and political affiliation?
BELAY recently made a commitment to doing five things within our organization to promote ethnic and racial diversity, inclusion and equity. What are three things you believe you could do to improve diversity and inclusion in your organization?
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Join Us Next Week
Thank you for listening to One Next Step.
We hope you’ll join us for next week’s episode when Tricia and Lisa interview Troy Pollock, the chief ambassador of Pushpay — the digital giving platform serving more than 10,000 churches. He’ll be sharing lessons from Pushpay to help us answer the question “How do I transition my team to remote work?”