SoCap talks with Devon Kerns, Eric Sutfin, and Dr. Liz Selzer
Study after study shows that companies that have made a commitment to workplace diversity consistently outperform those that have not. But, even with compelling statistics like that, many companies merely pay lip service to diversity, while others that have put forth well-intentioned efforts simply do it wrong. Devon Kerns and Eric Sutfin of SoCap talk with Dr. Liz Selzer about what diversity means in today’s workplace.
Diversity is not just about skin color and gender, says Dr. Liz. It’s really about diversity of ideas, backgrounds, culture, as well as age, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Too many companies make the mistake of initiating diversity programs by simply adding a few different colors or more women into the mix, or maybe have a half-day training on tolerance and respect.
But diversity initiatives must go much deeper in order to be effective. The gang agrees that if employers want to walk the walk, commitment to diversity must start at the top and be fundamentally tied to the value system of the organization. Dr. Liz argues that it is critical for companies to have a solid understanding of their organizational values and then hire a diverse team that fits into that core value system.
The team goes on to discuss how companies can initiate effective diversity programs, fix existing ones, and create a workplace in which all of the differing backgrounds, experiences, cultures, and viewpoints work together to create a hyper-successful organization.
Welcome back to SoCap Talks, helping innovators build tomorrow, today. Now here’s your hosts, Devon Kerns and Eric Sutfin.
Devon: Hello and welcome back to SoCap Talks, we are talking about company culture, employment branding and all that fun stuff. I am sitting here with Eric and Dr. Liz as you guys have heard previous to, these are experts that we bring on to talk about how we can enhance your company culture, your branding, and all kinds of amazing business conversations. I appreciate you guys for coming down, what is our topic today? Dr. Liz?
Liz: Well I thought it would be interesting to talk about diversity from the standpoint of actually what does a diverse culture look like? It’s not just how many people of color and how many women you have in leadership, it’s got to be different than that, because truly diverse cultures outperform those who are not by 35%, I mean to the bottom line, and so people want diverse cultures but they don’t know how to go about getting them and I think there’s a big element of employment branding that would come to bare on all of that.
Devon: aaah diversity, an old old wooden ship
Eric: mmm the Santa Maria. *laughter* diversity
Devon: uh for those that did not get that reference, that’s from Anchorman.
Eric: I thought you were the Anchorman. No you’re the podcast man *laughter*
Devon: um, so yeah uh diversity is a big one and you kind of helped us take a look at this topic in general, and help us understand how diversity itself is not just about skin tone in fact, it should be um around ways of thinking in order to continue to stimulate innovation and create a culture of diverse thinking. But there’s an important aspect in order for that to work and that was the clarity of value systems.
Dr. Liz: mm hmm
Devon: so when you’re clear on your value systems you’re clear on your culture, and then you start seeking out that diversity from all levels, both ethnicity and diversity in thinking who all align with your value systems you create an environment that can thrive on a consistent basis, and a lot of probably I’m assuming a lot of intellectual property that comes out of that that enhances your business in ways that you couldn’t even imagine.
Dr. Liz: Well yeah cuz if you have diverse perspectives you’re gonna be making better decisions; you’re gonna have more robust solutions. I mean it’s gonna be something that really makes your business take off and again I think, when asked most people get that diverse perspectives are good but okay how do you do that and how do you still have a consistent culture? Because I’ve had a lot of people go okay well we’re just gonna hire to fit our culture. And then you get a bunch of homogeneous people that are all the same and groupthink and it doesn’t work
Devon: mm hmm
Liz: I think, and you’ve just said this, you know, companies that are really successful drill down on what their values are, and they really, they know it, they know it very well. And then they will hire diverse people. And like you said, it’s not just skin color. I think I hate that that’s what people think that diversity is. Diversity, there’s so many aspects to it, there’s personality, there’s generational diversity, which I know, you know, we have to be people are more comfortable with people, their generation, but then you get comfortable and being comfortable is not what makes companies really take off and do well.
Eric: those darn baby boomers these days *laughter*
Devon: Um, yeah, that is interesting. I look at it. And I think um what is that? Is it it? Is it a top down approach in order to start um really impacting this within the culture of a company? Or where does that start?
Dr. Liz: I think it has to be a top down approach. It’s interesting, I was talking to a gentleman from Divida yesterday, and they have they were voted, they got some award for having the most not only diverse culture, but most diverse board. I mean, they, they believe in diversity. But and I asked him exactly that, you know, how did you do that, so that it literally it’s in every fiber of who they are, it’s, it’s absolutely part of everything that they do, from how they hire to how they include people to how they make decisions, and how they, you know, spur innovation. And he said that they It was a top down thing, and he said, they had to see their senior leaders living it out, absolutely living it out, you know, that their board is diverse. If you’re if you’ve got a bunch of white men, and no offense, but you know, a bunch of white men, and that’s your board,
Devon: gasp, how dare you?
Dr. Liz: Then what is the rest of your company going to look like, you know?
Devon: yeah, I think that’s right
Dr. Liz: it’s just that piece of it so, I think it definitely has to be
Devon: Well they even have, they even have the um sexual orientation in terms of diversity, because don’t they have a transgender on their board? I think?
Dr. Liz: yeah, I think I don’t know that for a fact. But it would not surprise me.
Eric:and that part is very important is to walk the walk instead of just talk the talk.
Dr. Liz: Absolutely.
Eric: We recently just went to the Colorado women’s Chamber of Commerce, 30th anniversary holiday party, and I was astounded, Colorado actually is down across the nation. As far as numbers of females that sit on boards, I think they said, the national average is about 17 and Colorado is below that they’re actually aiming for initiatives for 2018 to be able to just get on that plane, let alone surpass that not as astounding, that less than one out of five, that’s not an equal playing field. You’re not walking the walk.
Dr. Liz: no it isn’t, well and if you look at the statistics, okay. So there is obviously statistics show that diversity really improves bottom line, and all of that, but they talk a lot about that gender mix. And it’s not that women are better, you know, some people go, you keep, you know, advocating for women and leadership. They’re not, it’s not that they’re better. I’m not saying that at all. It’s just you need both. And it’s not just gender diversity. Again, we need to go back to I think you need diversity in all aspects
Dr. Liz: absolutely. Because that’s
Devon: different upbringing, different ways of life, different thinking, yeah
Dr. Liz: oh my goodness and then it’s respect for that. So, you know, I’ve worked with organizations, fact, one of the organizations I worked for a while back, they kept saying, we need to be more diverse, we need to be more diverse. And so what they would do is literally, they would hire someone of color, that was their solution. And of course, but never included them, never honored them, never really respected them. And those people would lead shockingly enough,
Devon: intentionally they didn’t or was it an unintentional
Dr. Liz: I think they didn’t know I don’t, I think they, they thought the way to get diversity was to hire it, they didn’t realize what you need to do is actually have a plan for including those 31 of
Devon: that needs to be one of the value systems like it is in a company Divida.
Dr. Liz: Exactly. And, and everything they do is about including everyone, and making sure I mean, they are constantly having cross company, you know, meetings and Task Force and everything, they listen to everybody. And they like to empower everybody. And I think, you know, there, if you look at all the words that they’ve got, they also the actively work with military and they have a lot of mil-, they’ve gotten a lot of awards for that. But so it’s just, you know, it’s that living out the values that you talk about, which I know is so important with employment branding.
Eric: Let me let me challenge you on this. I think this is a important idea and philosophy for companies to adopt. And in theory, it all sounds great. But let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of actually getting into implementing this. And how does that look? How do companies really understand and instill this belief that everyone has an equal voice, right? Because I think most companies while it sounds great one, perhaps it’s way harder to implement, and execute, because they’re weary of it and two by giving everyone a fair, equal voice relatively right? That is a change and change is very scary for companies. But can you share perhaps companies that you’ve worked with, through this process or have seen that have had more diversity within their culture and what that actually does? What are some of the tangibles and
Devon: like, what’s the starting point? We’re not diverse. How, where do we start?
Dr. Liz: Well I think again, it has to start with senior leadership. Because what you find, and I think you’re talking about something that’s really an important aspect to this senior leadership got there through certain steps, they’ve, it’s literally it’s a, it’s a hierarchical process, you all of a sudden go into that kind of an organization and say, Boy, we want to flatten this out, because I believe that is what you have to do. You have to have less of a hierarchy and more of a respect for everyone. Obviously, you still have to people who make decisions, but they don’t have to be above you know, it’s that flattening out of an organization. But it’s tough for people who have fought very hard to get into leadership positions. They’re like, wait a minute, that’s how I got here. You’re kind of disrespecting me. And do I matter anymore?
Devon: is that an ego thing?
Dr. Liz: Yeah, I think it’s ego, security fear. I mean, it’s all of those things. And they think, well, maybe I won’t have a job. Because if this flattens out, am I really, I mean, I have gotten here through a certain set of steps. And, and if we all of a sudden take out those steps, what’s to keep me here above Anyone else?
Devon: So do you eliminate that fear of, is there another term than flattening out? Because I feel like
Eric: diluting or, or
Dr. Liz: no, it’s I mean, it’s just so that there’s not so many
Devon: evening out
Dr. Liz: Yeah, it’s more Yeah, I like evening out.
Dr. Liz: it’s that it’s, it really all comes down to respect in my opinion, that if we respect everyone, and we respect what they have to say, and we don’t necessarily have to use what they say, but we do need to respect and listen to what they say
Devon: respect and listen, and yeah
Dr. Liz: And and I think that’s a that’s a key part of it. And it’s not respect earned by positional power, it’s respect earned, because you are a unique person that has something to offer
Devon: and performance
Dr. Liz: and performance
Devon: I would say performance should be the number one indicator, because there’s a lot of people that are in quote, unquote, positions in power. And I haven’t been all that impressed with them.
Dr. Liz: I know.
Devon: So having a title
Dr. Liz: I’ve worked for a number of those, trust me.
Dr. Liz: it’s not nice
Devon: having a having a title does not make you a leader. And if I were to replace someone who isn’t performing at the level that I would want for my company, my living breathing entity, um I would much rather have somebody that is diverse, and a performer to bring in those ways of thoughts, the new ways of thoughts, that difference of, of approach in life and perspective in business.
Dr. Liz: Well, being valued on performance is another element of these diverse cultures. And they’re, they’re evened out, and, you know, you have you really, if you don’t perform, you’re out. And instead of holding onto positions, and again, we, we just gloss over it a second ago, but it’s true. I mean, I have worked for people with that, that positional power is so important to them. And they don’t do they do not perform, but they rely on that, you know, I have this title, and so I, you know, will have this job, and I get to decide what happens to all the people who are under me, whereas if you go into it with this real team approach, and again, back to the Divida conversation, they they their title, the guy I talked to, he’s technically like an SVP, but he his title is, amigo.
Dr. Liz: I mean, they’re just a, that they, they, and so they, I think this is part of it, you develop a language, that’s another thing that really supports it. But that flattening out and that respect and, and truly including people said, you know, if you put together you want to develop a new product, pull people from every part of your organization and include them,
Eric: I think that’s a really important part is we’re now starting to talk about process, right? And how do you truly instill this within the workplace. And diversity isn’t just race, ethnicity, age, uh geo location, or even just their psychographics. So that even goes now into talking about how do you allow for diversity in process so that it’s not just a silo approach or a top down approach of manager to um
Eric: employee or superior and it’s just a vertical, you need to be able to allow for diversity in process where in a collaborative method, people are able to problem solve in a diverse way as well, they need to be able to approach different situations and issues that arise in equally diverse mechanisms, they can’t just say, Hey, this is the process 1-2-3-4. And now we have a solution is not a manufacturing line, we need to look at how do you solve each of these problems with the right people and the right process. And that is a diverse processes well, uh so it just transcends people, it goes into ideas, and problem solving.
Devon: So making the time to have problem solving sessions, allowing the diverse thinking diverse backgrounds to come up with new solutions,
Eric: yeah having the flexibility the malleability to be able to approach whatever it is within your organization, um
Devon: and you got to make time for that.
Devon: like you had, that has to be a part of the
Eric: part of all this goes back to intention, right? If you want, if your intention is to uh be progressive, to be innovative, to, uh you know, lead the landscape and be a thought leader, you need to understand that does come from having a variety of ideas, a diversity of ideas, not from putting all the exact same, you know, psychographics all the reds and all the greens in one room and thinking that you’re going to get something completely different
Dr. Liz: right. You know, it’s funny, we, when I was down in Mexico City, and I was working with Abba goddess down there, and which is a group of women lawyers that are trying to increase diversity in the, you know, in the partnership area of law firms and have more lead councils as females, and the numbers in Mexico are really low. And this company or this organization is growing just incredibly fast. But one of the things that they did was they brought in IDEO the, you know, the group from California that does all their, the talk about diversity and innovation people, I mean, that’s what they do for people, they help them move forward. And, you know, think of what the new things that they need to come up with, you know, whether it’s a, you know, wireless mouse, I know, that was one of the things or even the mouse in the first place, they have that they help that whole thought process go, but I, they did an exercise with us that brought everybody in, and we in I don’t know, it was probably 15 minute exercise, you know, it was a room full of, you know, a couple hundred people. But we literally, with sticky notes completely filled the whole front thing of all kinds of different ideas, when people are allowed to just think and be and bring who they are, and
Devon: and feel like they’re gonna be heard
Dr. Liz: Exactly, and feel that they’re going to be heard. And I think that gets back to that whole idea of inclusion and respect is so key to what a truly diverse culture is all about.
Devon: What is the fear? What do you think the fear is because a lot of people, I think, um and maybe this is a totally an ignorant viewpoint as a privileged white male in Littleton, Colorado, and now in Denver, um in an area and a topic that maybe I would have an interest in exploring more, but why don’t companies get this particularly not just in the thinking, but in the what’s the fear of having those great cultures and great ethnicities with these brilliant minds that are out there? Why, why am I afraid of that? Why do I not do that? Is it time? Is it change is it? Or is it actual straight up racism
Dr. Liz: I think that it could be racism. Absolutely. I mean, that happens, I mean, let’s be realistic about that. But I think there’s also what happens is, there’s a lot of unconscious bias that people don’t even know that they have, and you’re much more comfortable with people who are like you, I mean, that’s, that’s, that’s a that’s a ingrained thing, that that’s part of how we have developed as human beings. And, and so it makes sense, you’re safer when you’re with people who are like you. So you do have to go through and understand where those unconscious bias things happen. I mean, I’ve talked a lot with people that are trying to hire, and they went to hire more diverse people. And then their studies still have these practices yeah like, they will hide it, for instance, they will literally put the um resumes of the people most like them first. And it’s just one of those things that people naturally do. Because, OK, these people are like, you know, it’s, I like this person, I like this person, because they’re like you, versus, you know, having the diverse resumes up in front or, you know, not having names on them, or you know, whatever it is to try to get past that unconscious bias. So I think there’s a piece of of this that is really unconscious, and we we have to pop that out and recognize it and call it out as a company. I think the safety thing is, you know, I people get worried about their jobs, you know, are they going to matter? What if another person’s opinion that’s completely different from mine is accepted? Does that mean I’m not accepted? And again, when we talk about it, it seems silly, but these are all things that go on. And I think a lot of it, we don’t even know those things are going on
Devon: it’s a lot of monkey mind stuff.
Dr. Liz: Yeah
Devon: And that fear. So everything you just talked about is total fear. It is an absolute and it’s unintentional, right? You could be a type a badass, it’s running this amazing company, and you kick ass and everything. And yet, you look around and you realize, holy crap I’ve actually surrounded myself with a lot of comfort.
Dr. Liz: Yeah, a lot of people like, me
Devon: while kicking ass, right? And um I could, I can totally see that. So what what is the solution to that? Is, it is education? Is it immersion? I feel like the more I immerse myself in other cultures, Eric, you’re a good example of this, you went down and did the the was it school?
Eric: it was a study abroad,
Devon: study abroad
Devon: And now you’re absolutely obsessed with that culture. But I wonder, you know, were you drawn to that beforehand? And then you went down there was it kind of like, yeah, I want to go study abroad, I kinda like this culture, and then all sudden, you come back. And probably 60% of your conversations are in Spanish for no other reason that you just like remembering the language and love the experience. And you had so many great memories down there by immersing yourself. So could that be a part of the solution is just people getting out a little bit more, and getting a little more immersed in a culture and in diverse segments, so that we become less fearful of the thing we don’t understand.
Eric: Yes, and I think part of it is inherently you have to have that desire and appreciation and respect that, you know, I can learn something from whether it’s the Hispanic culture, whether it’s from an African culture or Russian Middle Eastern culture, that there is an equality in that you can learn something from whomever. And if you don’t have that, I don’t think you’re gonna walk in any culture and walk away with a profound appreciation, respect for what they can teach you. So your personal value system has to encompass respect for diversity in thinking ethnicity and ways of life.
Eric: I think, yes the however, is you can go there and learn a lot, right? It doesn’t need to be a absolute 100% uh attention and awareness to going in there. I think through the process of actually immersion, or very deep conversations with people um that you recognize, wow, this um Ethiopian has various similar situations and circumstances as I do, and a lot to bring to the conversation around whatever religion politics, business, finance, you name it, uh I think you can have those epiphanies and transformations in your perspective. But you need to allow for a safe environment and conversation in space to really learn and appreciate those values of what someone is bringing to the table. So uh I think you can create safe environments, and you can in and through personal development and leadership, entertain these conversations, um would that completely solve it, I think it would take steps and strides towards that. And you could be very conscious about recreating those environments. Um, but I don’t think it is the end all solution, I think it’s perhaps one of the precursors to really instilling this within a culture or organization, but a hundred percent of the company isn’t going to completely do that, right? We are human into the day, not every single person is going to, but you need to have the masses, you need to have the majority that are prone and keen to actually entertaining this idea.
Dr. Liz: And I think if you have to have those, those things modeled for you, I think your point about safety is really important. And I think it has to be an ongoing, intentional process where you say, Okay, here is a safe place for diverse ideas to come together so that we don’t have to be, we by nature judge, you know, I mean, that we just do, we we’re always judging how things should go, what this person is better, that person’s good, this person’s bad. I mean, it’s kind of how we are. And I always encourage people, if you can really get to a place where it’s a learning stance, the minute you start being aware, and again, a lot of this is just setting out an awareness to people to know when these processes kick in. But you know, if you can have them aware of their judging, and if, if they can then sit back and go, Hmm, instead of saying, Why does she do that? You need to go back and go, hmm, Why did she do that? You know, it’s a completely different it’s a safer place
Devon: it’s a 30 thousand foot view without emotional attachment.
Dr. Liz: Yes. If you’re just curious. That’s, that’s safe.
Dr. Liz: rather than judgmental.
Eric: Oh, actual practical way to implement that comes from one of our dear friends and executive coaches, JP Flom. JP Flom talks, about how this is a communication practice within organizations. And as a leader, regardless of whatever your title is, you can either ask one of two questions, one, you know, everybody okay with this, and either they raise their hand out of fear or you can shift it and say what concerns do people have? And on the other side, you ask people aren’t willing in okay to provide those who say, you know, John, What’s your idea? What are your concerns about this, where can be improved how we make this better? Sally, your turn, and you go around the horseshoe. And in time, by creating that environment where people are able and free to speak up, you create an environment where you can hear that so you it is in part also just communication tactic for business owners to be aware that perhaps you’re not creating that safe environment because you’re asking the wrong question, you’re asking a very closed ended question where people are fearful that if I raise up or speak up and raise my hand, that I’ll be the only one in the room. And it’s going to get shot down. And I’m not going to get that promotion and this that and the other versus my ideas could perhaps dramatically increase the value of whatever is on the table and provide a solution to upper management
Devon: is this easier to do if I’m playing at an A level and I surround myself with A level players because for, I’m just thinking about my own experience. And as we have had just people in general around me, who aren’t playing it at A level and then they offer their opinion and they offer their thoughts and it’s really stupid, I have a hard time respecting them
Devon: from that perspective. So like, can is is it important to be selective, and within the selection of diverse thinking, making sure that I’ve paid attention to the performance level of these people paid attention what they’ve actually done, and then put them in the right environments where they can thrive because again, I don’t care who you are, if you’re saying dumb shit, you’re saying dumb shit. And like, *laughter* What do I do? Like I can, and I feel like a lot of companies are doing it goes back to your point, like, okay, we need to be more diverse. Because whatever reason, whether it’s fear, because they’re gonna get in trouble, or, or because they think it’s gonna bend softly,
Dr. Liz: hopefully it’s not because of compliance hopefully it’s cuz they want to improve their business product but,
Devon: I mean I would hope so. But I can’t imagine I’m like, there’s got to be all kinds of situations, right? You would hope, but there’s whatever you get it. Um, but I also kind of need a reset on who is playing in my company, if I’m gonna start this process of going down the path of bringing new people to the table and bringing that diverse thinking, I also don’t just need diversity, I need people who are playing at the at the top of their game, and focus on leaders who are going to enhance my company, and not just bring in diversity for the sake of bringing in diversity
Dr. Lis: okay, but top of their game. See, that’s an interesting thing. And just that, right, there is a judgment that you make, and I think there are people who may have really great things to say about certain items, and then maybe they have not so smart things to say about other things. So there, it’s that, um you know, I think a company that can consistently, you know, stands behind results, you know, demands results, make sure those results are there, that company culture, I think, too, if if if people go together, strongly or go forward, strongly set really well, in values that they are, I mean, really embedded in, I think it tends to make people I mean, your conversations will be at the level that you want them to be at. I you know, I think sometimes, and I think that’s why to have true diversity, you have to have people that are all fighting for the same values that all really care about those same values, and it may be different. I mean, they are different company to company, obviously, I mean, different companies value different things. And I think that you, you know, you find people who fit your values, and then you I don’t know, there’s sort of a believing the best about somebody when you know that they have the same values as you do. And then, you know, maybe they don’t articulate something as quite as well as you might, but then, you know, you, you know, that they’re still on the same playing field, and also, again, in their head, they have to be providing results. I mean, I’ve had, you know, when I’ve had people and I don’t respect their work product at all, then I don’t respect their opinion. I mean, I just don’t, and I think that’s kind of what you’re saying, but, you know, how do you move that forward? Because, you know, a lot of companies have the staff that they have, I mean, do you just fire a bunch of people? Because, I mean, what do you do this is, you know, as you guys come in, and you work with employment, branding, you know, you’re working with companies that are already in existence, and already have a culture that they probably want to improve and make better. So, you know, what do you do with this whole topic?
Devon: I mean, I think the answer is, first and foremost, create an environment with these value systems that focus on growth and recognize the entity as being its own living, breathing, standalone being. And just like another human, it’s got, it it needs to be fed the right nutrients, it needs to have the right moving parts and, and and you need to take care of this entity. And so in some cases, if I am feeling unhealthy, and I am drinking a bunch of alcohol, those things are directly correlated. So I should probably cut out the alcohol, right?
Devon: don’t do it
Devon: And if there is cancerous, toxic human beings within my entity, yes, I need to remove those. But but but cancerous and toxic are not always showing up as the pain in the ass person, or the the lazy person, or the most obvious cancer, um it can be somebody that is just slowly creating a problem, they’re not performing or they’re not put in the right position. So I agree with you. It’s not always about the person and their and their performance in the position they’re at. They may have a skill set in that thing. But if they have no passion for the thing, they’re going to be performing at a 40%, right, instead of 100%. I you know, I hate to use the analogy of football, because I don’t understand it too much other than the fact that I love the Broncos and I like watching the ball go up and down and I get the point system. But like, whatever, you know, and I’m sitting there and I’m thinking to myself, if if I see this six foot four um very talented, very fast human being, and he’s played wide receiver his entire life, but he actually has intuitively and passionately a stronger desire to be the defensive corner right his hands aren’t quite as good as the best receivers in the in you know out there, but they’re good enough. But he just has this natural inherent talent and loves like this, this skill set that nobody’s ever given him a chance to thrive in in that corner position, put him in the damn corner position, or send him away and get them on a team where he can play corner and recognizing talent and not being afraid either A to move him around, or B allow them to exit because you see, and you can empower something that’s great in them, and then hire people who are great at that position and passionate about the thing, people are passionate, all kinds of things. We’ve got this amazing um woman a part of our team, and she, like, literally gets off on databases. I don’t understand it. I like, don’t ever care to understand her passion for spreadsheets, but she frickin loves it. You don’t want me doing that ever.
Dr. Liz: I’m grateful for those people.
Devon: Yeah, and even if I had the skill set, I could, I could go to school and learn how to do the spreadsheet thing. But I’m gonna do the spreadsheet at 110% less effort than she would. And in 200% less or more time than she would she can just whip it out in seconds. Because she’s so passionate about it. So is a part of value system and a part of diversity, recognizing passion and putting people in the right place. Because you can develop skill set when you have passion.
Dr. Liz: Absolutely. And I would agree with that. And, you know, I know the really strong companies with strong corporate culture they hire on values. And yes, the skills are nice, but they hire on values because, you know, the world is changing so fast. And your skills today may not be you know, they may be obsolete tomorrow, and then you learn something else. And so they can, you know, you can, I don’t think you can, you can’t really train on values. I mean, you can maybe train on how to act them out or whatever, but values you can help them be clarified. But if you truly don’t value community work, you can’t, you know, and you go to a company who values that, that, that you’re a part of the community and you you’re helping the community, you interact with community. And if that’s not something that really you value, you’re gonna be miserable there, you’re going to underperform. It’s not gonna work.
Eric: I think there is something to that landscape, the workforce landscape is evolving so much more today, we have diversity in businesses, unlike we’ve ever seen. If you think back even just 50 years ago, most businesses were probably 90% the same, right, it was the cubicle life and it was the call center and it was all these things that are very, very similar across businesses across industry lines. Today, you’ve got co working shared spaces you have solopreneurs, you have people that are able to work from home, you’ve got a really diverse work environment now, that is also changing too. I think there’s a massive part of recognizing the work environment and and the nature by which people are able to uh provide value is changing. You can do that in short, little stints um online and online tutoring. Or you can do it in remote year and travel across the world uh still doing your job. But being developed as a leader. I mean, there’s a growing diversity and just how you can show up and provide value and organizations that are able to look at which of those align with their own are the ones are going to be successful.
Dr. Liz: Yeah, being nimble, clearly is something that’s so important to companies now. And I think, to continue to have diverse cultures, you have to be nimble. But you also have to I mean, there’s certain things that you have to do consistently. And I think we talked about it first is, has to be modeled in and, you know, start at the top, I think you need to have language all around it. I think you need to be really intentional about putting structures in place so that people can have that diversity of thought, if you just go with people creating meetings, they’re going to create meetings with people that they know. And that’s, it’s not going to be like that. But if you say, Okay, well, you know, we have these different task force. And then this is something that we, we do, and we value that these all of these voices are heard and listen to, um I think you you do leadership development for everyone, you know, instead of just your executives, it drives me nuts that, you know, it’s like, oh, we’ll just start executives are getting developed, well, they need to be, but so does everybody else because that tells you that they are truly valued and that they are respected. If if somebody is trying to help them develop in their personal and professional life, I mean, I think there’s a lot of things I think mentoring is another really great way for diversity. There’s been a, there was a really good study done not too long ago, that they found all these diversity programs in work, none of them were successful. In fact, they resulted in fewer people of color, and fewer women in upper leadership, you know, upper leadership, a lot of it was because those diversity programs just explained how people are diverse, but it wasn’t about inclusion. So what really ended up happening is this whole idea of tolerance, let’s tolerate people, which as I think I’ve mentioned before, it, tolerance puts up a barrier between you and another person, I am tolerating your weirdness, okay,
Devon: which automatically makes a hierarchy of like, I am better
Dr. liz: Exactly. And that I hate those bumper stickers that say tolerance, because I don’t think that’s what it’s about at all. So, but what they did find was that organizations that actively included a mentoring initiative where they were pairing people that were diverse, whether it was men with women, whether it was, you know, people of color with people, you know, with other people that, you know, are white men, I mean, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s one of those things that they found, those were the programs that actually had an effect, and it was a great study was in HBR, I think so, um, and sponsorship is another thing that really helps with that, you know, really elevating diverse people. But in and again, I think we have to remember, this isn’t an overnight process, it takes some time, and it takes real determination that you’re going to do it, you know, it can’t be just the flavor of the month, we’re going to, you know, be more diverse this week, you know, it’s not, it’s got to be ingrained in your entire culture and everything you do, the way you talk about your positions, you know, if you have these really hierarchical positions, it’s, it’s tough to be super diverse, because in it, it implies a hierarchy of value of people, and all the sudden you’ve just lost your your evening out of that
Devon: um before we wrap it up, I think what’s really interesting across the board is just this idea that diversity is not one dimensional, on any level. And all of it stems from a culture where you have clearly defined value systems of which one of those values is diversity. And potentially one of those other values is inclusion, listening, and communication, or are those separate pillars?
Dr. Liz: I don’t know that diverse? Well, if this I’m trying to figure out is how do you vet *groans* easy for me to say, um you know, valuing diversity means, okay, so you value that there’s a diversity in your thing, you have to value inclusion, I think they have to go hand in hand, I don’t know how else you can make it real if you they don’t go hand in hand. And I also think that learning stance is another really important thing for
um cultures that truly want to be diverse. Because people stand back instead of in a judgmental stance, or in a learning stance. And all of a sudden, you know, they’re learning from everyone. I mean, I say that all the time, you can learn something from everybody, anybody, I don’t care who they are. Maybe it’s how not to behave. But you can still learn something from anyone. And if you stand back, instead of judging and getting irritated, which takes up a lot of energy, if you can stand back and be calm and just learn it’s it’s, again, has to be modeled in p, it has to be supported and encouraged, um because we don’t naturally do that again. And which makes sense. I mean, you know, survival of the fittest, you have to judge what is safe, what is not like you who is not so it’s going against kind of our innate tendencies, but I think we can do it.
Devon:Yeah, I think it’s possible for sure. Any last thoughts, Eric?
Eric: I think, not only is it possible, but my encouragement is diagnose in an hour and a meeting over lunch, if this is something for your organization that could be truly transformational, or just what would it look like? What are potentially the implications,
Dr. liz: mm that’s good
Eric: and play the I wonder game, I wonder what would happen if we did this, I wonder what would happen if we did that, whether it be an ideas or values, I would imagine, you’d be very surprised, pleasantly surprised at what that might do for your organization, if you just were to implement a fraction of what we’ve talked about, or just looked at it through this lens, uh because it does take a lot of work, it does take a lot of energy to be able to do this simply uh to undertake this task. But I think you could see what transformation it would allow for in your workplace, in your attitude, in your happiness in what would evolve for your organization
Devon: and your growth, your your personal growth and the growth within the company. Um, any last thoughts, Dr. Liz?
Dr. Liz: Uh no, I just think it’s, it’s a great conversation. I think every organization should be looking at that. I love what you just said, Eric, that’s a great place to start. What if, what if we really took the time and energy to do that? What would the result be? Is that worth the energy? You know, and I think it is, but I think it’s healthy to kind of go in not because I hate diversity, for compliance. And what you’re saying is not that and I love that um when, when all we’re worried about is diversity for compliance, then that’s a that’s a negative backward track. And then I think it’s just not, that’s not what we want to go for. So
Devon: I’d say across the board, what’s really great is a lot of our listeners will most likely be newer companies. And how fortunate are they that they don’t have to try and reinvent the wheel, they can look at this and start out of the gate with these types of value systems and immersion and diversity. And think ahead, and I would encourage everyone to make that game plan to have that foresight that if you plan on being a large company, enlarge does not necessarily have to mean you know, hundreds or thousands of employees, 10 employees that are diverse and thinking and that are um getting shit done. And you’re listening to each other and you’re respecting each other, you could come up with products and services and things that you’ve never even imagined, become a multi multi million dollar company and organization leave a huge impact on this world. Because of it, so um yeah, this isn’t just conversations to those big companies that need to make these changes. It’s very important for the future companies to have this conversation ahead of time and put the strategies and systems and value systems in place.
Devon: Well, I appreciate you guys for being here again, and I look forward to having some other guests on board with us in the future and having other conversations. This is Devin Kerns with Social Capital and we will be in touch with you next time around social capital integration.
You May Also Be Interested In
- Leadership In Today’s Business World
- Culture Trumps Everything
- 4 Steps to Building a Sustainable Company Through Social Capital