Hello, it’s Caroline here from Wide Eyed, just about to go into a workshop where I am actually a participant which will be wonderful.  Learning to present powerfully today so that will be an intriguing session no doubt I will cover that in due course.

Today I want to share some of my thoughts about diversity and it’s been a really fascinating journey for me really, thinking about my own experience and then working with my clients and really getting an understanding of how often people get confused about it or a bit polarised about it.

Certainly when I think about conversation I have been having recently, I have been interviewing an organisation about their experience with diversity, equality and inclusion.  Often I get the response “oh yes we are fine we just recruit the best person for the role” and obviously that is very much looking at their skills.  But what I feel that is always missing is: thinking about what is missing from the team. So it’s really interesting, often they have been talking about the individualistic culture because they are trying to get the best people they are not always trying to get the best team.

So my thoughts today for leaders thinking about diversity:

The first one is to plan it.  What is it you want from the team, what are the expectations for the team and what are the gaps you have already in the team and think about how you are going to plan to create that diversity in the team.  And that can be diversity of gender, ethnicity, valuing differences and getting that whole sort of appreciating different perspectives because without getting different people in there and planning for that the chances are you continue this kind of group think, getting very similar people into the team.  So, really think about how you can create a team dynamic that values difference.

The second one is about inclusion and I heard a wonderful story a few years ago now about this really strong powerful woman who joined a big finance organisation, and she was recruited because she was different which was great, very capable woman who had a lot of experience but was also going to bring her own perspectives and experiences to the experience.  And I remember the conversation she had with her leader, which was 6 months later.  He was very disappointed with her because after those 6 months she had become part of the team she started to dress like them obviously in a female form, and she started to say very similar things.  But what he had forgotten was his role of ensuring that she was included and heard meant that she in order to fit in, she started to emulate and copy the behaviours of the team.  So, really think about your role of including and making sure that person being able to be heard and can behave differently.  Takes a really strong person to be standing out all the time.

And then the third one is linking to that sense of tokenism if you are only going to have 1 person in a group of 8 that is different, then you are going to make it really tough for that individual.  Also it does smack of a very insincere attempt at diversity.  Ensure that you have a different range of perspectives and that you don’t have 90% of the team all behaving or having similar thoughts and then a very small percentage of the team maybe having a different perspective.  Encourage a more challenging alternative perspective, it is really difficult, we are more likely to like people who are like ourselves and therefore recruit in our own likeness.  But to really step out and recruit people who bring a different dynamic, who challenge our thinking, who bring a different perspective, that’s why you will get an amazing team who are diverse and values the difference in each other.

So that’s my thoughts for the day, plan for diversity, ensure inclusion and avoid tokenism.   As always lovely to speak to you and I would love to hear your thoughts please let me know what you think and what your experiences have been of diversity and inclusion.  That’s it for day, thank you and bye bye.

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