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What does Diversity mean to YOU?

Jessica Man

11/25/2020

Introduction

Diversity and inclusion is a very broad topic that covers many types of diversity, it can mean a lot of things. Everyone and even different diversity authorities would define it differently. We always ask: What does Diversity Mean? and we got the full properly “definition of Diversity” type of answer, but we seldom ask “What does Diversity mean to YOU or ME?” as a person, or as a professional yourselves. Similar to topics like happiness or successes, diversity means different things to different people professionally and personally.

In this post, I have asked the simple question of “What does Diversity mean to you?” to business leaders, academics, HR professionals, D&I thought leaders and BIPOC. The post is grouping the responses by their self-claimed roles and not in any particular orders.

What does Diversity mean to Business Leaders?

Mark Condon, CEO, and Founder of Shotkit : Part of cultural intelligence includes recognizing that people from diverse backgrounds have different ways of looking at and solving problems, doing business, and purchasing goods and services. It helps organizations understand their customers, and increases customer and employee engagement much better than any survey or market research could. 

William Taylor is the Career Development Manager at VelvetJobs: In my experience most business leaders see diversity as an HR objective. Most leaders, thankfully, are for a more diverse workplace but believe that HR should be advocates and drive this matter in the business. But I see diversity as a business imperative that is one of the key success factors. A diverse company is proven to perform better so why shouldn’t the whole company, especially management, drive diversity? So, for me, diversity equals success and should therefore be considered a priority in any business. 

Eduard Klein CEO of eduardklein.com: Why are we in this day and age still debating whether or not diversity is a good thing or not? Whether or not women or people of color should be at the top of the management chain? It completely bewilders me when I get asked about the benefits of diversity because that should be common sense to all of us. If you recruit and hire the same cookie-cutter job applications, you will receive the same results as you always have been getting. But once you dig deep down into the applicant pool and start recruiting a diverse range of applicants, you’ll see an increase in innovation and thought processes. 

Jonathan Bass, the Chief Executive Officer and owner of Whomhome.com: Diversity should not only be recognized in race, religion, or upbringing, but also in education, point of view, and life experiences. Creating a diverse company culture gives you a unique advantage in the marketplace to create products that appeal to a diverse community. It increases innovation by having a multitude of different people with different backgrounds lean into a conversation. Brainstorming, idea generation, creativity is always enhanced with diverse input. If everybody in the room only likes gray and white and all your products will be reflective of a gray and white motif. Diversity brings color to product development and innovation. Ultimately the benefit of a diverse workplace is not just doing the right thing but bringing a differentiation of thought. A mistake in leading a diverse workplace is not allowing the true color of diversity to reflect on the outcome and decision process in the boardroom. 

Ashwin Sokke, co-founder of WOW Skin Science: To me, diversity is the recognition of different genders, races, ages, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and education and implementing it as a massive advantage in a business structure. At WOW, it is important that each new employee matches the company’s core values but also offers a new set of unique skills, perspectives, and experiences. At my company, the beginning stages of developing a system of hiring are focused on diversity and inclusivity. Furthermore, we offer diversity training that demonstrates to employees how to adopt diversity through inclusion efforts and team exercises. Lastly, we promote the implemented culture of diversity initiatives on social media, career pages, and print content, which attracts more diverse future candidates in part making our business more diverse. 

Najeeb Khan from Council.club: As Head of Remote & People at Council.Club, diversity means everyone’s voice is heard and there’s equal opportunity. It can be difficult to change if there’s no way to measure it, but we’ve built an internal remote-team building tool to help make sure that everyone has their fair chance in speaking. We can see how active some speakers are vs others in a meeting and making sure all voices are heard.

Bill Flynn: Diversity, for me, is cognitive in nature primarily, as it relates to building healthy and thriving organizations.  Identity diversity is an important contributing factor as it often leads to cognitive diversity but not always.  For instance, you can hire a mix of gender, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, etc, but if they are all upper class income going to Ivy league schools, the diversity of thought may be lacking. I have come to believe that the main outcome of diversity is insight, innovation and creativity. We not longer live in the world of Frederick Winslow Taylor and Sir Francis Galton.  Routinized work is being swallow up by software, robots and machine learning. I believe that in order to foster an innovative workforce, it must have cognitive diversity.  To do that, you must first have inclusion and in order to have inclusion, you must foster a growth mindset within yourself and your teams.

Michelle Devani, Founder of lovedevan: As the founder and relationship adviser of my company where I can meet a lot of different people and be able to learn from all walks of life, diversity means a lot. I believe we are all diverse in the way we think as we have different thoughts, beliefs, and values that are shaped by the difference in culture, religion, and background. And I often hear that diversity and inclusion in the workplace are hot topics everywhere as it is a critical part of a growing organizational culture. But we must learn new ways to promote diversity and inclusion to shape a workplace culture that grows even in the most unpredictable company situations as they influence factors that impact our company culture.

Samantha MossEditor & Content Ambassador at Romantific: We all have our own definitions of what diversity is and we all have our own understanding of what a diverse and inclusive workplace is. But, I am certain that we all want to work in a company where there are diversity and inclusion. I am currently working with a team in a company and I can say that our company really cares about diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

For me (Samantha Moss), a workplace truly is diverse and inclusive when everyone respects each other’s differences and is given equal opportunities. Every employee should be given the chance to voice out their thoughts and every employee should be provided an opportunity to achieve their career goals. A leader’s effort in creating a diverse and inclusive workplace should not end with hiring diverse employees. A leader should also continuously ensure that everyone in their diverse workforce receives respect and feels comfortable.

Scot J Chrisman, founder and CEO at THE MEDIA HOUSE (http://themediahouse.co):As the owner of a business that has already scaled and is continuously scaling, being remote gave me the opportunity to hire people from all across the globe, from all races and places. And so when I hear diversity, what I hear is that I should not confine my hiring standards into a box that’s limited. I should go far and beyond to find the best talent, no matter where they are or what color their skin is. I hear that I am doing a great job and that I shouldn’t stop.

Michelle Enjoli Beato, Founder of Connect: When I think about diversity, I think about a group of individuals diverse in their background, thoughts, experiences and talent that can collectively bring forth new ideas and solve problems. Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace always brings up images of business resource groups that have different missions and are comprised of different groups based on ethnicity, sexual orientation or specific interests. The members of each group get opportunities to connect with each other due to the common interests or background but don’t really provide the opportunity for other professionals who are different to genuinely connect with them. I believe there is an opportunity for change in how diversity and inclusion is approached in the workplace. When I created a business resource group at Mercedes-Benz USA, my goal was to create an all-inclusive environment where our differences could be acknowledged while fostering spaces for connection, professional development and collaboration with each other. The goal of diversity and inclusion in the workplace should be to foster connections between diverse professionals in order to move the business forward. In this arrangement both the employees and business have opportunities for growth. 

Andrew Jezic, Founding Partner,  Law Offices of Jezic & Moyse: Diversityand inclusion means making invisible members of our society visible from a business-centricstandpoint. D&I means seeking out and welcoming candidates and customerbases that will build company culture with a wide array of influences andpoints of view and who challenge the conscious or unconscious biases that mayexist in a given industry. 

Jenna Carson, HR Manager at Music Grotto, https://www.musicgrotto.comWhen I read about or discuss diversity and inclusion in the workplace, I often get the feeling that business leaders and organizations see it as a set of criteria that they need to fill to be appealing as a business, a kind of tick-box exercise that causes them more work. I think they’re missing the point completely, and I wish they would see this shift for what it is – an opportunity to do things better and to get all the benefits that a diverse workforce brings. Including everyone in the conversation, and making sure the same opportunities are provided to everyone, regardless of race, gender, socio-economic background, sexuality etc, is the only way to gain the benefits that come from being truly diverse and inclusive. To me, the mindset of seeing diversity and inclusion as something that ‘has’ to be done, needs to change to something that companies simply do because they recognize the value in doing so and it just makes sense.

 Crystal Huang ,CEO ProSky:Diversity and Inclusion are both super important to us at ProSky. When a company supports diversity and inclusion, they are actively trying to fight against biasdiscrimination, and prejudices. At ProSky, we believe Diversity in the workplace starts from the very beginning with your company’s hiring process. Many recruiting processes fall prey to unconscious bias and stereotypes based on candidate age, gender, race, appearance, etc. even though these have no impact on performance. This is something that absolutely needs to change. 
Employees shouldn’t be hired or not hired based on factors beyond their control, but should be hired for their abilities and what they can do for the company. Increase diversity by mitigating bias during the hiring process using techniques like performance-based hiring. 

Simon Lyon, Editor of The Sound Junky:In general, diversity refers to understanding a person for the differences that they might have from you. These differences can be based on race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or ideologies. When talking about diversity and inclusion at a workplace, a lot of topics come into one’s mind—starting from equal opportunity for everyone whenever the company is hiring. I have seen instances where people are rejected because their gender didn’t seem to be the right fit for the job. Instead of committing such acts, workplaces should instead focus on promoting diversity and inclusion. The only way to change mindsets is to bring people from different backgrounds together and work with each other every day. This opens up one’s mind, and they start looking at things from a broader perspective. People tend to hate each other based on their beliefs and race and never look past it and try to know the person. Workplaces could ensure they hire people from different backgrounds and bring them together. They would be doing society a huge favor as people will start learning about the importance of diversity and inclusion and how badly it is needed. 

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