Facebook, Intel and even Wal-Mart have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to diversity efforts. Consultants are brought in to lead trainings, managers are assigned KPIs surrounding diversity recruitment and retention initiatives, and new mission statements are delivered by top leadership. It seems that almost everybody these days is committed to diversity.
Yet we’ve seen little actual progress. In 2016, the number of women CEOs actually decreased among Fortune 500 companies. Diversity reports submitted by Google and Facebook saw a much lower level of progress than they had hoped, considering all the money and time invested.
It’s not for lack of effort, but diversity has still failed to become a priority in the corporate world. Why is that? By and large, corporations can only focus on three core strategic objectives at any one time. It’s rare that diversity makes the top three, which is why we continue to make so little progress.
Fixing the problem
Certainly, corporations could put more emphasis on such initiatives, but the onus is largely on the field itself. We’ve often failed to prove that there is a strategic advantage. Our field’s glaring lack of metrics and accountability regarding initiatives is one obvious reason that this is still the case.
In other areas, we’ve simply failed to communicate, bogged down in disputes about politically correct language, too often focused on blaming and shaming rather than bridge building. We see the current political climate and how dialogue has simply broken down because no one actually knows how to discuss these things.
A ripe opportunity
Like other professions, we must hold ourselves accountable for organizational results. We must ensure we are building bridges and helping others communicate through conflict, as that is where the true power in diversity lies. We must learn to embrace all and leave behind an old terminology where diversity is seen as an “us” (the underrepresented) versus a “them” (those traditionally in power).
Our demographics in America are shifting. We are more interconnected globally than ever. The conversations are happening all around us. The time is now to bring diversity conversations to the forefront in our organizations and lead the way in both driving business objectives and building stronger teams through communication and support.
Nick Jaworski, Certified Diversity Executive, Society for Diversity, [email protected]