Diversity is a hot topic, not just due to a viral fear of difference sparked by daily political tweets. Research shows that teams and organizations perform better with diversity yet few decisions were ever made rationally. Though the story in this post starts in Canada, it is equally applicable elsewhere in the world. Last week, out of curiosity, I attended a Canadian Board Diversity Council panel entitled “The War for Talent – How to Win Through Diversity”. The conversation dated back to the early part of 2000 or earlier. Do we do quotas or targets? The title alone tipped me off. There is no war for talent, just an inability to see it.
Not in the room were people who are actively taking action to broaden thinking about the value diversity adds to workplace quality of communication and productivity. People like Carol Simpson whose company trains (mostly) youth on the neuro-specialized spectrum (pathologically known as autism) and then provides their services to companies to accelerate project completion. Carol is part of a global network to raise awareness of the importance of neuro-diversity, – one of many forms diversity takes.
Traditionally managed companies are making a dangerous assumption – that traditional methods of hiring still apply. In fact, the notion that you can get a traditional process to do new tricks lead to the erroneous conclusion that it will take longer. Of course it will. The lengthy statistics driven decision-making of traditional process is not relevant to a world where fully engaged talent and knowledge drive flexibility and resilience. A different way of thinking and doing is necessary.
Is Bias Good or Bad?
Bias was another line of question in the panel. The most disturbing and uninformed question followed the line of: Can you get rid of bias? I was reminded of a conversation with Michael Pacanowsky of the GORE Center for Innovation where we talked about the perception of bias being ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It is neither. David Rock of the NeuroLeadership Institute points out:
“If you have a brain, you are biased.”
Simple. The only way to get rid of bias is to be an alien. Even a robot or AI won’t help because humans programmed them.
However, there are many ways to offset bias in the decision making and hiring process. In Decision Making for Dummies (pages 61-62) I summarized common ingrained biases. You can also design the decision-making process in hiring to mitigate bias. Chip and Dan Heath’s book Decisive offers a great example and a number of companies like Menlo Innovations are adopting a try-us-on-see-if- we-fit.
The Value of Diversity in Worldview
- The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world.
- A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group. Also called Weltanschauung
In the early part of 2000, I had the privilege of working with immigrants and First Nations as part of a social work consultation process. As an empath, I felt the collision between their worldview and mainstream assumptions about how the world works.
It became viscerally obvious that we are truly missing valuable perspectives when immigrants and aboriginal world-views are not on par-as peers, or Millennials, or women, or men. Anytime voices are suppressed because they challenge the status quo, we all lose.
Forget the War; Stop Wasting Existing Talent
Adapting to change is an imperative; BAU (business as usual) is high risk. Resilience in natural systems – in Nature’s way of managing complexity – relies on diversity. It is not contrived nor statistically driven. It is simply a common sense approach to the interdependence of all life. The success of each is connected to the success of the whole. The evolution of humanity can only come about through being better at working with diversity to collectively build better solutions.
“Our (Western) way of life, inspired in so many ways, is not the paragon of humanity’s potential. Once we look through the anthropological lens and see, perhaps for the first time, that all cultures have unique attributes that reflect choices made over generations, it becomes absolutely clear that there is no universal progression in the lives and destiny of human beings.” – Wade Davis, The Wayfinders – Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World
Isn’t it about time that HR fired loyalty to stale process and hired a fresh outlook and lead regulatory reform?
Contact Dawna Jones to book speaking or workshops on decision making for complexity or to explore the leadership level to keep pace with innovation.