I've always had a variety of people in my professional and social circles--it reflects my own diverse interests and experiences. Everyone is spread out geographically, but it would be one heck of a party if I had them all in one place to watch all the worlds colliding.
That being said, every once in a while I am reminded of the limitations within my network, which in turn speaks to the challenges of business norms in general. When I asked on occasion whether I know someone that fits x, y, z, conditions, I usually have at least some tangential connection. Recently however, I could not find enough executive women of color in my circles for a special invitation-only gathering. I lamented this to a colleague and friend (also an executive woman of color now consultant), who said, "there aren't any." She really meant "there's not enough." So true, so true. There's much work to be done, but thankfully some organizations are trying. People need to know, and be motivated to do the same.
This is why it was so wonderful to add my $.02 on this article in Fast Company, "These Companies are Making Sure More Women Get Promoted to Management," which showcases what's being done and provides for some starting points. I highly recommend you read the whole article and share it broadly. Here's a preview:
It's every speaker's dream to have an engaged audience. I was truly honored to present Culture Your Culture at The Design Collective's Salon in SF last night, which included lifestyle brand makers and creative directors, furniture designers, high-end plumbers, an auditor, life coach, product designers, purveyor of wall coverings, a UX designer, an architect, writers, and other creatives. Highlights from the dialogue are worth sharing!
The host of Thank God for Monday, Brother Greg Cellini, has an interesting background. He spent almost 30 years in corporate (working for big pharma) before joining the Franciscan Brothers and returning to his roots at Seton Hall University and becoming a broadcaster. This interview was a homecoming of sorts for me too. I spent 8th, 9th, and 10th grades in South Orange, living less than a mile down the road from Seton Hall. I love the name of this show because it reflects what work is meant to be--a welcome and meaningful endeavor even on Mondays. This interview had some great questions (with hopefully equally great answers from me). Lots of great topics covered--from entrepreneurship to diversity to leadership and employee engagement. You will have to scroll through the episode list to find me, but it's worth it!
My interview with Tayo Rockson, MBA on As Told by Nomads #podcast is LIVE!! So many topics covered, including my upbringing as a child of immigrants, development of my cultural identity, then of course the importance of managing organizational culture and how Design of Work Experience (DOWE) can help.
I've been making more of an effort to get out more for these events. After all they are ubiquitous here in the Bay Area, and I'm sure people don't take enough advantage of it. Believe me, you'll miss it when you live somewhere that has them few and far between. Not only is DIVERSITY a hot topic right now in Silicon Valley, but there are some awesome people out there doing awesome things. I love being exposed to it. This panel was more dynamic and offered more inspiration and information than others I have attended. Far too many don't get past the initial hiring for representation discussion, which is extremely frustrating for me. When will people understand that they can recruit until the cows come home and still fail because they don't do enough to create the conditions where diversity thrives?
Note to self for the next time I host a panel: Curate the Q&As. This is not because I want to censor anyone by any means, but there wasn't enough time for other good questions because some audience members decided to take the opportunity to pitch their startups to the VC panelists for interest/funding. Really?! Here are three criteria for great questions:
This year, I got to attend the OCA National Convention's Professional Development Track. The topics covered weren't diversity specific, but they were surely relevant to today's business landscape: Dare to Dream, and the Tech Success Panel. One may wonder what makes a diversity forum necessary if the topics are general. The thing is, there is something special about starting the discussion from a common experience. This sets the tone for a dialogue that usually never sees the light of day in a general audience. There is nothing exclusionary about this. It's about giving voice and inspiration that is usually harder to find in other places, and creating an opportunity to connect and share them. In the same way affinity groups support and strengthen the members within the organization, diversity conferences do the same for the greater community. See below for my live tweets from the sessions.
How is it in this day and age we still suffer these completely preventable scandals? Often times we ignore these issues until we can't. Collectively as a society, we all lose. It will happen again if all we do is throw more policy and procedure without getting to the root cause: culture. What conditions were in place to precipitate these issues? How might we change the culture to ensure a healthy work environment? Purposefully managing culture won't prevent bad behavior, but it will set expectations and solve problems before they are out of control. The DOWE process helps organizations to design and implement strategies unique to their context. If you think we've had enough, then we should make sure we do enough.
Check out this opinion piece from Bloomberg BusinessWeek, "Recruit Me With A Manicure" as food for thought. There is hardly any topic about diversity that doesn't stir up strong emotions or controversy amongst people. As a woman of color, my life experiences and culture studies have informed how I feel about this. Separate from that, we can respond to this article from a Design of Work Experience (DOWE) perspective. It expands our understanding of the concept, and also gives us a different way of looking at this long-debated topic. Let's look at this hypothetically:
1. First, a company could articulate the archetype of qualities that would be successful there--not what they would like, but what would realistically work in that culture. If it doesn't look pretty, I would suggest some transformation work to set the right conditions for top talent to thrive. Gender (as in the case of this article) wouldn't be a quality per se, but the company might decide that the hired group as a whole should reflect diversity to leverage its benefits.
2. Once they know what they are looking for, perhaps they would go out to understand the behaviors and motivations of candidates. They could look for ways in how those aforementioned qualities are demonstrated and select the people that exemplify them best. To attract these target people to their company, perhaps they follow their activities, interests, and interactions. Then they go out and meet them there. In the process, they might discover that some of these candidates enjoy manicures, so they host an recruitment event at a nail bar.
Not as controversial sounding now, huh? It makes sense. A DOWE approach lets the target candidates define the recruitment activities, which makes the company more attractive to them. It ensures a strong job-person-company fit-match, thus ensuring greater hiring success and retention. Compare that to how some things happen today, where companies don't set the conditions for success, think hiring for job requirements is enough, recruitment activities are always the same, matches aren't that strong, and hiring success rate hovers around the 50% mark (thanks, Google). Convinced? Now design for the on boarding experience, DOWE-style!
I tend to treat all groups with the same degree of respect and consideration regardless of role, level, industry or sector. However, this is good fodder for a discussion on generalizations. While it is informative to read, hear, or learn about the perspectives out there, this should not prevent you from developing your own understanding independently, and it should not be THE ONLY source for your decisions and actions. Doing the opposite is where it gets into the dangerous ground of stereotyping. Doesn't this make sense from (I'll use the D word) a DIVERSITY standpoint? Having experienced diversity challenges in the workplace as a change leader and woman of color, this point seems to get glossed over, lost, or altogether ignored when it is oftentimes the source of many diversity, and therefore, company issues. If only more people learned this distinction, we would all save ourselves a little heartache (and lawsuits), and get a lot more benefit from leveraging diversity.
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