Diversity and inclusion only adds value to companies that are open to new information

Diversity and inclusion only adds value to companies that are open to new information

At Connection Lab, we work with an increasing number of companies that despite their best efforts are struggling with their D&I programs. We thought it might be useful to share some of our findings.

First, let me say that much of this information comes from our discovery programs. We are dedicated to practicing what we ask others to practice and that means ongoing invitations for people across an organization to share their experience of the workplace. Collaboration and co-creation begins with inviting the audience to inform the process – yes?

What we are finding is that well-intentioned organizations struggle to harvest the value from their D&I programs. These organizations are often dedicated to honoring and recognizing all people equally – but can’t quite make the foundational adjustments necessary to find and add the value they are searching for. What’s up with that?

Here’s the thing: These organizations are learning that they are not always open to new information. 

Even that news can meet resistance on leadership teams. They can get defensive and point to multiple examples of having a huge appetite for new information. Then we introduce the possibility that this appetite for new information can actually be very selective. We then invite a conversation about individual and organizational predispositions that might be getting in the way. 

Predispositions block new information. Education, location, opinion, experience, trauma and recovery can be the backbone of a successful organization – and can also lead us to the unconscious rejection of the experience of others. These forces can be tough to reconcile and a good reason to invest in communication/leadership development programs. But I digress. When organizations are in a period of hyper growth, or in some kind of foundational transition, they experience a type of collective tunnel vision where they simply cannot hear the voices of others. 

Of course, some Diversity & Inclusion programs are not intended to succeed. They exist for optics and only ever serve to protect organizations from litigation. But for those businesses that really want to modernize and evolve, supporting a D&I program can revolutionize an organization, dramatically improving recruiting, retention, productivity and the chance to fulfill organizational potential. *

Am I open to new information? Are we as an organization? Are we willing to face our unconscious predispositions – for the needs of our business? What good are the right questions when we aren’t in position to catch the answers?

For more information on how to address these subjects, check out our website at connectionlaboratoy.com, tune in to our podcast Lab Notes or contacts us directly at info@connectionlaboratory.com.

You got this.

Russ Hamilton is the CEO of Connection Lab/Connection Lab Espanyol and the host of Lab Notes: The CL podcast.

*  “In a global analysis of 2,400 companies, organizations with at least one female board member yielded higher return on equity and higher net income growth than those that did not have any women on the board” – Credit Suisse 2016

* “366 public companies found that those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their industry mean. Also, those in the top quartile for gender diversity were 15% more likely to have returns above the industry mean.” – McKinsey 2015

* David Rock and Heidi Grant in The 2016 HBR articleWhy Diverse Teams Are Smarter