The way to solve the work and broader societal problems we face is to focus on the causes not the symptoms. Yes, it is easier to get short term results with short term solutions but that isn’t going to create fundamental or deep change.
For example, when instigating a hiring quota system: does that change the attitudes of the majority; does it automatically create an inclusive environment; or does it create some resentment from the majority? Furthermore, does it create feelings of unworthiness in the person hired, believing their new role was the result of them ticking a diversity box rather than their ability. Even if this is not always the case and it doesn’t undermine the benefits of a more diverse work force, the problem is that these points of contention would never be openly discussed in the workplace for fear of reprimand in the first place, manifesting the reinforcement of internalised feelings.
This leaves us wondering that if a hiring decision was not motivated by reasons of diversity why a seemingly more qualified but a person from a minority did not get the job. Was it just bad luck? A bad day? Or, perhaps it was an inherent, hidden, subconscious bias forever going unpunished due to its lack of identity.
So is diversity in this manner not the answer? Clearly, it isn’t that simple. Sometimes, the best of intentions are inadequate to create changes in who fits in at work or in society. Sometimes we have to take the initiative and bring people in to break the chain. A kick start. What are our goals for doing so, however? Do we do it, just to do more of it? Is the goal for diversity, diversity – perhaps this should be explored. Businesses are more concerned with profit, so even when they fill some ranks with more diverse team members, if they are not sold on the idea beyond compliance (cost), how serious can we expect them to be about it. So when this is all done half-halfheartedly, without it being part of an internal business strategy, it doesn’t always follow suit that a company’s high diversity quota levels realise a more inclusive environment. We have heard of many staff who feel like impotent tokens, camouflage carefully tucked away so that the company can promote itself as a modern and future thinking business.
Pride 365 believe that Diversity is a good thing, but not merely for the sake of it. We often hear that the benefits of diversity is about unique and fresh ideas that would otherwise go unheard. Surely the best form of diversity is about bringing people together and making room for those who otherwise may never have found it, so that… (and this is the next step we see missing) people can understand one another and know that, deep down, we have nothing to fear from each other and just might be able to learn from each other.
If we believe diversity provides a diverse spread of opinions, thoughts and characters, then let’s embrace that. Let’s get real value out of this and dissolve the barriers of fear and bias. By providing a space where people can choose to be open about their differences and similarities, we can make change. We can incentivize the core leadership to put diverse characters and people in positions of influence because they come to realise that it is in their best interests and that of the company. Our motivations for diversity have to be authentic, if not how can we expect the impact to be anything but skin deep, or another great PR story?
Real attitudinal change and mutual respect will only be achieved through open discussion and clear discourse. How can we expect people to get to know each other if they’re not allowed to be honest about how they feel, good or bad? Do we really want a bunch of smiling assassins poised to plunge the knife in at the first sign of an opposing opinion or belief? Or on the other side, do we just want assimilation where everyone is reduced to their most basic characteristics in a melting pot, literally defeating the purpose of diveristy?
There is no singular solution to achieving true equality and inclusion. It is about asking the hard questions. What do we want solved today? How are we going to make that happen? Do we want a surface level agree-ability or deep fundamental change? One is no harder than the other, it just takes a different approach. Pride 365 believe that by empowering diversity through inclusion we can achieve the things we are all after, things like putting fresh ideas and voices where it matters into a business, shrinking the opportunity gap and freeing up a system so that when a person from a minority gets on a board they didn’t need the help of a diversity crutch. As the saying goes “those forced against their will are of the same opinion still.”