Diversity Programs

I read a great article this week from Ngaire Moyes – What Do Women Want @ Work.  I paticularly loved the accompanying infographic, and the more I looked at it – the more I wondered about what the ‘Men’ version would look like.

I’d love to see the same survey for men, but here are my answers:

Success at work means finding the right balance between work and personal life.

I do think my career has been a success so far.

I do think you can have it all – a fullfillung career, relationship and children. 

I didn’t slow down my career as soon as I had children. 

I work in a fantastic company which totally support flexibility and family.

Career path is the biggest challenge affecting my career.

I am aware that my physical appearance makes an impression, but it has not had a major impact on my career.

That means I answered in the way of most women on the survey. Which I suspect would be the same for most people.

There is absolutely no doubt that there are too few women in senior positions in most companies and most industries – there are plenty of studies that back that up. But I’m honestly not sure that it’s all to do with sexism in the workplace.

Out of curiosity, I ran a quick spot check on my own sexism (or lack of) credentials:

46% of the people I follow on Twitter are women, 39% of those following me are too. Around 70% of the people who have worked directly for me in the last ten years have been women, and I’ve spent slightly less than half of my career working for a woman. I cannot imagine having even half the talent of my amazing Wife.

What’s missing in the workplace is an appreciation for diversity in all forms. Employing in own image is frequent. Interviewing from a pool of talent that all conforms to expectation, unconscious prejudice – it’s all common, and it exaggerates the problem.

At a recent round table, someone asked another delegate to clarify what they meant by a diversity program. They started to explain that it includes women, racial minorities, lesbian, gay,  those with disabilities…..and so on. What they were trying to say was “anything but straight white men.” 

(This doesn’t always hold true, there are various functions, that are traditionally female dominated and therefore benefit from the reverse)

Does this mean that we should employ positive discrimination in the workplace? There’s probably no choice, although some are loathe to admit it. But it would be better to educate leaders and managers in the immense value of having a diverse number of opinions and viewpoints around the table – learning that simple fact should be the first move in any diversity program, but it involves changing a seriously embedded mindset.

Successful culture transformation programs take diversity into account early in the process, because appreciating diverse opinion is one of the most effective catalysts for change

Take the time to look at the team structures in your company. If everyone looks, acts and thinks the same, you probably won’t be successful for long. 

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