Diversity and Inclusion...My Ass

Can we just cut the bullshit real quick with this whole "Diversity + Inclusion" racket?

Here's a real simple measuring stick for all of you analysts and over thinkers out there:

Take a walk around the neighborhood where your office is located. Take note of the racial and gender makeup of the people in that neighborhood. Then walk back into your office, look around and take note of the racial and gender makeup of your company. If your office population doesn't look anything like the population of the neighborhood right outside your doors, you've got a diversity and inclusion problem. No metrics needed. #yourewelcome

We have beat this issue to death with stats and figures and strategies galore. Yet the diversity numbers are still abysmal by even the most meager standards. Do I think this is a conscious effort by companies to use "fit" as a way of controlling diversity and inclusion efforts? Mostly, no.

I remember I worked for a company who stated the following in their internal recruiting materials, "We will not lower our hiring bar simply to create diversity within the company. Everyone is held to the same, high standard regardless of race or gender." Hmmm. Mmmkay. So as a minority reading this, two things immediately come to mind. 1. You're insinuating that hiring people of color or women (?) would be, in some way, lowering your bar; and, 2. You clearly aren't making any special efforts to actively seek out minority or female candidates because you've already insinuated (see point #1) that it would somehow require lowering your bar to fit a few in. This is the bullshit I'm talking about. Creating hiring policies based on biases that will never change until the practice does.

I now work in Aeronautics. And I love it. And, yes, I'm currently the only chocolate chip in the cookie at my company. Do I see something wrong with that? Not really. From the research that I did on the company, the CEO and Leadership Team as well as the industry, I can definitely say, unequivocally, there are very few chocolate chips in all of Aeronautics to be had. "Hootie Hoooooooooo!" #crickets

General Engineering is starting to see an uptick in minorities and females and programs like Kimberly Bryant's "Black Girls Code" are helping to build awareness for minorities and women excited about Engineering. But corporations are the ones who must lead this charge. Not simply wait around for someone else to do it so that they can simply shoot fish in a barrel.

Diversity and inclusion are actually quite simple. Hire some women and some people of color of varying experience and skill. Throw them on some teams and give them a little extra tutelage to keep them motivated and supported and you will be shocked at how quickly they adapt and actually become some of your best and most productive team members. Think about it. Minorities have had to operate most of their lives with the thought that they are less advantaged than their white counterparts. Which means they've had to create an internal fortitude to become just as good if not better simply to compete. They are focused, hungry and willing to put in the insane amount of effort they always have just to get where they are. (And we LOVE a challenge.) When companies use the whole BS "fit" discussion and these nonsensical DISC/Meyers Briggs tests to, essentially, "sort" the applicants to fit some painfully arbitrary bar, it can be devastating to find out that you missed out on a dream role for which you were perfectly qualified, even moreso than your white counterpart, but "fit" was the determining factor based on stupid shit like the college you went to or the [perceived] way you grew up or even the lack of experience and comfort level the interviewers have with someone with dreadlocks.

This entire issue is the perfect barometer of where we currently stand in business. We are victims of perceptions that haven't kept pace with the diverse talent pool that's actually already out there. Sure, there are industries that are dominated by young, white males. There's no denying it. I now work in one. However, that doesn't exonerate my or any company from actively seeking out diverse candidates and pulling from sources specifically designed to offer ethnic and female candidates who are just as talented, but often overlooked in favor of the easy win..."fit."

We're overthinking this folks. And it's mainly out of fear. The fear of having more minorities and women in the ranks and potentially upsetting the makeup and "balance" of the company that white male execs feel most comfortable with. We truly need to admit to our biases. That's the only way we'll begin to change them. We need to proactively visit and create programs at HSBUs that create excitement around majoring in Engineering or Aeronautics instead of simply burying our heads in the sand and making wild, incorrect assumptions about "those colleges." We need to create programs within our own companies that foster collaboration and empowerment among female employees forced to work in a sausage factory with little-to-no support and a whole lot of competition with their male counterparts every single day.

Remember that dude that got fired from Google for writing that lame manifesto? What a freakin' tool. He had zero clue what it's like to actually be a minority or a female and was far more interested in making his silly, entitled little points than really taking the time to develop an understanding as to why those numerous (non-white boy) groups and classes were necessary to simply give minorities and women at a dauntingly huge corporation like Google the opportunity to feel some sort of connection, additional support, and understanding in a sea of people that look exactly the same. Google's (PR-laden) response was just as flaccid. I personally don't think he should have been fired. It was the perfect opportunity for a transcendent learning and understanding moment. Instead, they took the easy way out, vilified the guy, and completely missed the point about diversity and inclusion. Another reason I'll NEVER work for a company that size again. Too many committees making decisions. And not enough common sense being used.

So, again, let's cut the bullshit, please. Keep hiring your token Diversity + Inclusion "czars" (mostly of color) if you must and keep running your numbers expecting them to magically change. Or simply hire some minorities and women and allow them the opportunity to compete and thrive like normal human beings vs. this weird, subset, protected class. That's not real diversity. That's diversity by committee. Real diversity takes guts, taking chances, a true belief that things will always work out, and tutelage/good management. Fear of the unknown(s) is certainly not going to move the needle of your company's diversity needs. It's what got us here and keeps us stuck exactly where we are. Stop trying to control every single aspect of your recruiting process and allow human nature to run its course. You'll be glad you did. And you'll spend a lot less time and money on creating these fake-ass, kumbaya hiring practices that simply don't work.

Phoenix Normand