The worst thing about working in diversity is watching the swell of enthusiasm that comes when certain month rolls around or a black man dies, to then watch that determination and passion ebb away as the months continue to march on.
Which is not to say we don’t need that enthusiasm, please God give us more of it, but we need to find ways of sustaining it. Do you remember when George Floyd was murdered? Do you remember how we reassessed our entire workforce policies to ensure we were starting, continuing or furthering our diversity journeys? Do you remember all the conversations that were happening? Do you remember how much we cared?
We still do care, but the conversation has died down and the diversity talk is now a gentle murmur in the background as opposed to the loud roar it was back in 2020. And I say that without any judgement because you can’t care that much, 100% of the time. To my earlier point, it’s not sustainable.
However, we do need to find ways to get through this marathon. We need to understand that sprinting through black history month, pride month, international women’s day and all the others does not make an organization diverse. It makes it a knee jerk reaction. Companies become part of the bandwagon and real change, once again, doesn’t happen.
So, here are three ways you can pace your diversity efforts and create a long-term solution:
1. Create Diversity KPIs for all senior leaders and management
We all know that nothing happens in business unless there’s a deadline, accountability and the prospect of a bonus on the horizon. Diversity is no different and sitting down thinking it’s going to happen because everyone is a ‘good person’ is the fastest way to fail with your diversity.
It has to be tied to bonuses and KPIs, otherwise it’s an empty gesture.
2. Embed diversity into your hiring process
This isn’t code for you can only hire diverse individuals, but rather it means you can only hire people who understand your diversity goals, are driven by similar values and want to be part of the changing workforce. If you’re interviewing a candidate who has a vague understanding, interest or enthusiasm for diversity, regardless of their skill, that’s not the candidate you should be bringing into your organisaiton.
Which I appreciate sounds harsh for a lot of leaders who are looking for talent to fill the holes left by retention issues, but quick fixes are the second fastest way to fail with your diversity and inclusion.
3. Mentor, mentor, and then mentor some more
Diversity issues are bigger than you and I. They’re structural and world-wide.
Which means that searching for diverse CEOs is harder, because those diverse individuals haven’t been backed, resourced and championed to the same extent the dominant group have been.
Businesses can begin to change this by mentoring individuals from marginalised backgrounds as a means of upskilling, backing, resourcing and catching up diverse individuals. It will be good for your company when you’re looking for diverse talent, and also the quickest way to level the playing field.
Here at Solutions Driven, we’re launching our own mentorship programme in the coming months because we believe that if you’re a leader in our business, you have a responsibility to share your privilege with those who have had less of it.
And imagine if every business did that? Imagine how different that diverse talent pool would look then? The revolution will only happen if we stop talking about it and just get on with it.
As always, if you’ve got any questions or want to chat further about this, drop a comment below and let’s chat.
Stay inclusive, stay diverse.
Chief Diversity Officer