The Hard Truth about Diversity and Inclusion

~40 years ago a group of economists concluded that “society” does not need to be concerned about discrimination in the workplace. Their point was that is a company passes on a great candidate because that person is from a minority and that instead they decide to go with a worse candidate, that company will go bankrupt because their employees are not as productive.

Well we know that there are plenty of companies out there with virtually no minorities in influential positions and 40 years later they are still there. Maybe not the most creative companies, but for sure still making a pretty penny.

The logic from that group of economist was sound though. After all we hear it everywhere: “The most important asset are employees”. So of course whichever company has the best employees should win in the market. Right? If you factor in that we know today that companies with a diverse workforce are more creative. It should go without saying that the more diversity a company has, the better its results should be. More outstanding people coming up with better ideas, that sounds like a recipe to print money 24/7. So where is the flaw in this thinking?

I have a few thoughts on this:

  1. The hard (maybe) truth: Well perhaps diversity is overrated. It is the opposite of what I believe, but something to consider. The critical question is more around is the plausible explanation only that diversity is overrated or could there be something else killing the diversity impact?
  2. Diversity without inclusion: Companies did not get the most of diversity, because they did not activate it with inclusion. This is where code-switching comes into practice. If someone recruits me and I feel that I can not be myself I have 2 options: Either I code switch, and I become successful, and people do not get the full benefit of diversity, or I do not, and most likely I won’t be listened to by the established monochrome leadership.
  3. My preferred explanation: The world is changing. For a long time, you could have someone that did not have a clue about the needs of people and still be successful through excellent marketing, distribution, or a product that nobody else had enough funds to build. Now the world is changing. Creating a unique product is no longer a challenge. The idea is the tricky part, then you can 3D print. Before if you did not have enough money, your design would never see the day of light. Now you have a great idea you can crowdfund it. Before, everybody was aspiring to the same thing – I still remember my first perm, I know you do too – nowadays we celebrate individuality. You want to convince that kid that you have the freshest product in NYC? You better have the micro-influencers talking about it in a very authentic way to cut through all the noise out there.

Before you could fake being real, the more we go forward the more you need to be real. Reals have an army of tools to recognize reals.