What does ‘diversity’ look like? As our attitudes toward work and progress shift and evolve, so does our belief in what it means to belong. And though many organizations like to tout the fact they’re ‘inclusive’ and ‘diverse’, there’s still so many myths surrounding the topic.
“Some organizations make the mistake of stereotyping diverse into the ‘typical’ sub-sections; race, gender and age,” explained Mathieu Baril, managing director at DDI and speaker at our upcoming HR Leaders Summit in Calgary. “Clearly these are obvious to everyone – but there are so many other forms of diversity slipping under the radar unseen. Diversity of thought, diversity of personality, and diversity in points of view. Whilst the more overt forms of diversity are critical and deserve our attention, I think a good strategy, one which removes barriers, is one which caters to those hidden forms in the workplace.”
Diversity is not just a ‘nice thing to do’ – it’s not all altruistic, Mathieu tells us. Embracing and supporting diversity has a clear and measurable business impact on organizations.
“For instance,” he continued, “if you have a leadership team that’s more inclusive in how they solve problems, there’s a higher probability that decisions will be made in a way that’ll tackle all variables. As humans, we tend to revert what to back we know. Instead, we should coach ourselves to assess all aspects rather than falling back into assumptions.”
Mathieu gave the example of Apple and their famous ‘facial recognition’ tool. “The tech giant got into some problems with their software,” he told HRD. “Some customers claimed that the AI couldn’t tell Asian faces apart."
So much so, that one consumer was given a refund and the company launched a full investigation into the claims.
Another example came in the form of ‘sexist’ crash test dummies. “Up until recently, they were all built on a male body structure,” Mathieu told us.
“In the end, they figured out that these tests weren’t going to do anything to help keep women safe – particularly pregnant women! Which, as you can imagine, should have been a priority.”
Taking this back to the workplace contect, if you look at the presence of women in leadership roles there’s about 47% in the entire workplace. However, only 20% of the C-Suite are female. There’s this huge disparity there. Mathieu believes that companies who have this ‘pyramid’ which slowly chips away high-quality female candidates from those senior roles are losing out.
“At the end of the day, you could argue that there aren't enough people asking important questions from a range of different vantage points within companies. We need people to challenge the course of actions to help businesses make even better decisions.”
Mathieu will be speaking on this topic and more at our upcoming HR Leaders Summit in Calgary on December 5. Take a look at our exciting agenda and book your ticket here.