Dumping Diversity: Action Talks

Ever notice how all diversity content is pretty much the exact same? We’ve created this culture of conversation about diversity that involves a hell of a lot of finger pointing and not nearly enough action. We sit there and point out how many cents less a woman makes versus a man. We point out how many women sit on the board of companies and how many have none at all. We point out how there aren’t enough women in this industry or that. We point out the success of companies who do bust the curve.

Then, nothing happens. It’s the equivalent of watching a car accident. You’re stuck there. It’s something to talk about. It’s not directly impacting you. So, you turn your head to watch.

On a rare occasion, someone runs in to help when it’s not their job. By rare, I mean that one person occurs at the same frequency of a lottery win or being struck by lightning. It’s one-in-a-million kind of rare that people will stand up in the face of adversity rather than sitting back to watch and comment. Giving all of us a platform like Facebook to react instead of understand has done almost nothing to help that human reaction. It has taught us very little about how to save yourself from the same ending.

So if you’re going to take the time to talk about diversity in the first place, please take the time to focus on projects and initiatives that actually help. Here are a few to get you started in case that voice in your head that says “there’s really nothing I can do” is a little too loud.

  1. Get involved in the communities you want to hire. Note I did not say sponsor and recruit but get involved. That means you show up at happy hours for women in IT. You go to African American History celebrations at the local library. You march in the Pride parade. The bottom line is that you support the community you want to hire with your humanity. They’ll notice.
  2.  Create internal mentorship infrastructure that partners people with completely different backgrounds together. It should be cross functional and cross cultural. Make more opportunities for people to experience each other.
  3. Develop partnerships with local groups to offer career advice. The most empowering thing you can do is teach someone how to find a job. Hell, if they get a job at your company – that’s a win.
  4. Look at the data. Don’t just assume you have equality. Look at what parallel roles pay for men and women. Look at the percentage of each group you have across the company. Be honest. Set goals, not quotas. Hold yourself and everyone else accountable. To clarify on quotas – they are typically crap but ratios tell stories. Let the data tell the story.
  5. Stop writing about the discrepancies and start writing about the action you take.

Go on. You have work to do.