(I’m just putting this up there due to inadequate payment by a client)
Who here wants to talk about money? Does anyone want to know how to make more of it for yourself and your business? Can I see a show of hands? (wait for the hands) As most of us know, the way you make money is through competitive advantages. A powerful one that grows every day in America is “Diversity”. Today we are here to teach you how to use diversity to increase your revenue.
Diversity brings benefits to the business world in four layers. Each of these is valuable to move a business from good to great. One goal of our course is to convince you of this importance. Another is to clear up any problems with diversity you might have.
What is diversity in a general sense? It simply means “variety” in the broadest sense. Most of you also understand what it means to have a “diverse” workplace.
We have a four-step plan to help you truly understand why this matters. It’s not good to just give you buzzwords like “multiculturalism”. Instead we want to give you real, concrete facts about business. Our goal is to make sure you leave here with an understanding of how this benefits you.
Layer one is “Removing Conflict Created by Ignorance”. A lack of understanding leads to a great deal of conflict in an office. What happens when racially offends someone else in public or disrespects their beliefs? (Wait for some answers from the crowd)
Good answers all around. There are many things that happen but they all lead to stopped work. A loss of productivity. In some cases, it brings the office to a grinding halt. In others, it just leaves people uncomfortable and unfriendly. Incalculable numbers of businesses fail due to underlying tensions here.
Conflict is unavoidable in most businesses. Conflict over racial or cultural tensions is entirely avoidable. Even in businesses where other cultures are massively represented this is still true.
You can see the importance of removing it from your business. Diversity education is the cure to this disease.
Layer Two is “Fostering Creativity through Diversity of Thought”. Without this a business stagnates and dies. It is the only way to keep creativity flowing. Many large corporations struggle with this every day. What do you think of when you hear “Diversity of Thought”? (Wait for some answers from the crowd)
Those are all part of it. We need this sort of thinking to create new and powerful ideas. It is how businesses create lucrative new products. A major “ignition factor” for this sort of thing is diversity. Different cultures have a wealth of ideas to share.
Layer Three is “Creating Mutual Respect”. Great work is only done when all the team members respect one another. It is true in nearly every sector of life. Factory workers work harder when they are in a positive environment. The same goes for boards and teams in huge corporations. Do you know anyone you have mutual respect with at work? (Wait for responses from the crow). It’s very likely that you do better work when they are around or work harder for them.
Respect is garnered through actions. Bigotry stops this process cold. You won’t value someone as much if you think their beliefs are stupid. In rare cases people don’t listen to anything a person says simply due to their skin color.
Teams that care about each other are the central, middle step to greatness. It is the only way to produce the world-class work you need.
Layer Four is “Diversity Marketing”. Many Americans want to know that company support make a difference. At the very least, they want to see that the business doesn’t have a hateful culture. It helps protect your company from bad promotions. Have you seen any examples of “Diversity Marketing” lately, in your own life? (Wait for responses)
It’s undeniable that we see it every day in the media. It is also a positive driver for sales. Both the government and consumers require responsible diversity goals. It also helps people feel better about the products they buy. Studies show that between two equal products consumers go with the more “socially” responsible one.
This layer simply makes you money. Leveraging the power of diversity for marketing drives sales. It’s a competitive edge we all need today. We live in the world that becomes increasingly aware of social issues. It’s why people buy organic or go with a company because they treat employees well. Can you think of companies that did well due to treating their employees well? (Wait for responses)
Good answers, as always. There are dozens of ways we can easily think of. There are thousands of small ways as well. Business is changing and diversity just makes sense. So how do we grow a respect for others and love of diversity? Our course is here to help you understand that.
Evidence Time: Each section of our course contains something we call “Evidence Time.” If someone tells you that X is the best way to do something, don’t listen to them. Don’t listen to us if we tell you that without proof. We want to give you some hard facts on the situation.
The first example is that many business leaders agree on the idea that diversity matters. Hundreds of books fill the Amazon listings. Some good ones include “The Culture Map” and “Reinventing Diversity”. These are written by industry leaders who see diversity bring financial dividends to their own business. Each one of these leaders made millions or billions of dollars with diversity at the core of their leadership.
Another example is a McKinsey research study diversity does lead to stronger companies. They surveyed a number of books and other studies for their research. They found a number of interesting facts. Here are just a few of them:
- Companies with large amounts of racial diversity exceeded national industry averages for income. They are 35% more likely to have net returns above the average
- Businesses with a high amount of gender diversity and equality are more likely to see net returns above the industry average. They are 15% more likely to make more money than the average
- Racial and Ethnic diversity also improves the earnings of executive teams
- No company is perfectly diverse
While this certainly not the only competitive advantage it is enough of one to make a difference. In a highly competitive global economy we need all the advantages that we can acquire. Since you are taking this course your company managers obviously feel that it matters. Take a moment and decide whether the research is compelling for you. We will offer much more in later lessons.
Workshop Time: Get together in groups and discuss the four layers. Feel free to bring administrators into the conversion. Think about these data points:
- Why are layers useful for understanding diversity?
- Do you see how any of these apply to your own work?
- Does your business put forward enough care for diversity?
- Do we really believe we can make money using these tips?
- What do I, personally, want to learn about diversity?
Everyone knows about the office jerk. They also can think of at least a few times where people fought over cultural differences. There is some overlap between the two usually and we have to deal with it together. Conflict destroys our productivity. In some businesses, it causes complete failure. Do you want to quickly increase productivity? Do you want to make your business a better place to work? Then cut out these problems entirely.
Doing this is easier said than done. Classes like these are a good start. Learning about the benefits of diversity motivates many people. It shows them that their changes in thought lead to financial gain. As always, money is a major motivator.
A desire for a “nicer” work place is another motivator. You don’t need to answer, but some of you work in businesses that lack multicultural respect. It’s a tough subject that bosses and employees both want to avoid. People get angry when negative interactions happen.
More than that, it’s easier to hire and keep good people in a diverse environment. When people respect all their teammates they can do great things. So, let us go over some of the risk factors created when your place of employment lacks diversity.
It’s tough to have conversations with superiors or difficult team members. Unfortunately, that attitude breeds further ignorance. Always strive to encourage open dialogue within your companies. Help people explore their racial and cultural differences. Never cover them up. If it leads to a bit of conflict at first, that’s okay. Because it helps you avoid a “Time Bomb Situation”.
A “Time Bomb Situation” takes place when you push the conflict down too often. Eventually someone goes off like a Time Bomb. In a bad situation, they yell at coworkers and then quit. In a worse situation, they might file a “Hostile Workplace” suit. The very worst thing we’ve seen happen is that some people actually bring a weapon to work and shoot or injure coworkers.
Can you think of a member or situation that counts as a Time Bomb? Please don’t name any names, but give it some thought. If you feel comfortable, talk about a situation where your stress level increased: (Wait for some responses)
Think about what you want to do with those situations later. Another big risk factor is the “insensitive worker”. This person has a few characteristics that make them difficult to work with. Some may make an off-hand comment about someone due to their race or gender. The worst among them may actually use a racial slur. Even among people who don’t belong to a specific cultural group this creates an uncomfortable work place.
Can you think of someone like this? They may have other positive characteristics but this is the one that holds them back. It’s bad for you and them as it can hurt their chances of promotion.
So how do we fix these situations? The most direct method is dialogue. Use dialogue to defuse this situation. By talking things out evenly and honestly we relieve stress. At the same time our business teams learn more about each other. Can you think of any times where stress resolution lead to more knowledge? (Give them time to respond) Stress happens in all our lives. How we deal with it improves or damages us every day.
The next step is knowledge. Have events where teams learn about another culture. Visit events where they find out about other parts of the world. You may consider giving them some time each week to do this as paid time. We understand that’s not possible for everyone. It does work though, as Google lets their employees spend some time in these areas as well. We know how successful they are.
Always give every employee a chance to learn. Never fire someone due to “assumed” racism or sexism. Give them some time to explain themselves. Allow them to learn how they might offend someone. Perhaps even give them some time to take a class on it. By the same token, never ban disagreements. It’s the only way for good team members to understand each other.
Mediation from management is the next step after dialogue. Not everyone agrees after talking with each other. That’s why it’s important for managers help workers get along. Have team meetings where you encourage people to talk about uncomfortable topics. Ask your own cultural questions. Help everyone calm down and work things out.
Can you think of any times where you needed mediation and received it? Or where you needed it but didn’t have it? Think about both of these. Feel free to tell the group about them (Give the group a moment to discuss their own experiences). As you can see it’s sometimes important to set in to improve your business as a whole.
Once the conflict is over, it’s time to make sure it doesn’t come back. Sponsor educational sessions and encourage workers to learn more at all times. Knowledge is the only antidote to racism and hatred. Good feelings and sympathy aren’t enough. We have to understand and respect each other.
Evidence Time: This time we huge, striking examples of how much this costs a business. We have court cases that damaged huge businesses. The first comes from General Electric in 2010. 60 African-American workers filed a massive suit against them. They alleged extreme racism with slurs and negative treatment were normal for the company. This not only led to massive interruption of work for the company but also hurt their public image.
Southern California Edison also received a similar suit in 2010. Unfair pay, biased evaluations and no promotional opportunities were the claims here. This was far for the first time for them as they also received suits in 1974 and 1994. This was more than just a one-time problem for them. It cost them employee productivity and forced them to engage in large amounts of diversity training.
Wal-Mart received multiple class action lawsuits from around 4,500 African-American truck drivers from 2001 to 2008. These employees claimed that Wal-Mart discriminated against them in hiring and retention. The company had to pay $17.5 million dollars to settle the suit.
It’s best to learn from the mistakes of others so you don’t have to. Make sure that your company executives understand the full cost conflict and racism create.
Workshop Time: Spend a small amount of time discussing these points:
- Have you dealt with conflict over diversity yourself?
- Can I personally learn more about another worker?
- How would I change the way we work to improve this?
- Do I have any biases that hurt my work performance?
- Could my company make more money by cutting down on conflict?
Einstein once said that “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Creativity springs from a combination of new ideas. The only way to get that is through diversity of thought. Too many businesses censor their people. Instead of promoting new ideas and even geniuses, they stifle creativity. So how do you foster diversity of thought in your business?
First, it’s impossible to talk freely with everyone. Anyone who believes that you can talk honestly with everyone in your company is deluded. It’s not possible to say everything you want nor should it be. So what you must do is encourage free speech wherever you can. Take a moment and think about someone who is difficult to talk with in your own life. (give them a moment to think).
As we mentioned earlier, meetings are a big part of this. It goes beyond that to the personal time of your employees. Add incentives for employees to go to cultural events. Host company celebration days focused on learning about your team. Incentivize getting along and learning. These not only cut down on conflict but also improve diversity of thought.
There is a big difference between diversity of thought and toxicity of thought. We aren’t talking about the someone who makes a tasteless joke and apologizes. Too often we punish people like that. We’re talking about people who cause real problems. People who use insulting terms for coworkers and bully them. Those who censor others and make them afraid to speak.
Can any of you think of a coworker who was particularly toxic? You don’t have to say any names or specifics. (give them a moment to think) You are probably uncomfortable being around them. It’s the job of workers to cut down on this and management’s job to remove it completely. Don’t be afraid to punish a toxic worker.
Once you understand proper speech it’s time to actually foster diversity of thought. To do this you need to hire people from diverse cultures. They have ideas that no one else in the area have. They see things in a new way.
Another way to ask for new ideas from everyone in the company. Respect their questionable ones and reward their good ones. Once again, incentivize diversity of thought. Hire people who disagree with the status quo. Who want to improve things by bringing in new ideas. It’s okay to disagree and is even something we must encourage. That’s how growth happens.
Let us return briefly to the note on “unique” experiences. It’s great to celebrate what makes us different but not everyone is comfortable talking about it. All of us need to study our work partners to find out what level they feel good talking about. Then we need to make sure they know that learning about it is important.
The final ingredient is to not persecute ideas. It’s okay to have bad ideas. It’s the only way to reach a really good one. Never punish an employee for a well-meaning idea. Even if you don’t agree with it, it is worth having.
So now that you have the ingredients it’s time to get to work, right? Not in all cases, unfortunately. Ideas about “Political Correctness” cut down on a lot of diverse thought in America today. People are very afraid to offend others. It is difficult to walk the line between free speech and offensive speech. Indeed, sometimes they are one and the same. Make sure that you never restrict diverse discussion in your own business.
Many of the other courses you can take encourage pushing censoring this discussion. Some even tell you to create “Safe Spaces” and avoid “Microaggressions”. That doesn’t work in the real world of business. In these areas you can’t speak freely or question ideas. Whatever the majority believes is what goes. We already have too much of that in many businesses.
To have free speech and diversity of thought you need to talk openly. Can you think of a time where a manager, executive, or other employee censored you? (Give them time to respond) If so, it may be time for a tough but necessary talk.
Managers, this is doubly true for you. While you should avoid hate speech, none of your employees should be afraid to talk with you or others about diversity. Help them celebrate the differences instead of fear or hate them. It’s the only way to foster creativity.
Evidence Time: Per research from Scientific American diversity makes us smarter. How does it do this? Experiential and sometimes basic data is easier to access in set parts of the world. The same holds true for cultural subsets as well. It’s common sense that experiences differ massively from America to India, for example. There are also experiences unique to your race or gender as well.
Standard and Poor’s top 1,500 performers list shows us this. business professors Cristian Deszö of the University of Maryland and David Ross of Columbia University researched the impact of gender diversity on the best businesses with this list. They found that performers with female leadership scored near the top of the list on productivity. Facts also showed that innovation increased at these firms as well, above the average.
In some ways, the evidence comes from within. We would guess that you cannot think of a time that you created truly amazing work under a sense of oppression. It’s likely that none of us can think of one instance where censorship and restriction made us creative. This is something that all of us understand inherently. We do our best work when we aren’t restricted.
Additionally, professors at Ohio and Oklahoma state did a study using Democratic and Republican students. Around 186 people were asked to solve a murder mystery. They then had to write an essay on it with a partner. Those who had a partner of the same political alignment put less research in. Those with someone from the opposing alignment were better prepared.
This shows that we put more thought and care into work when someone with a different belief questions it. There are several reasons for this. One is that you feel as if you are defending cherished beliefs. No matter why we do it, the result is clear. If you are confronted with a different idea from the norm you prepare yourself better for the project.
Workshop Time: Spend a small amount of time discussing these points:
- When have new views increased your own creativity?
- Is your workplace one where new ideas are shared freely?
- Can you think of any notable achievements diversity brought about in American life?
- Can you think of any instances where censorship hurt a business?
- Do you meet a diverse set of people in your personal life?
Mutual respect is something that everyone wants. Getting it is hard to do, especially if you do not respect someone. Of all our diversity layers this is the toughest one to reach. Fortunately we can do a few things to help improve the situation.
Before we start, we should do one thing. Make sure that your team weeds out any toxic employees and resolve conflicts before taking this step. This is because one difficult person can make the experience worse for everyone.
It’s also best to take inventory of everyone’s beliefs, if they feel comfortable with it. Everyone’s opinion and viewpoint deserves mutual respect early on. Indeed, it is against the law to discriminate against someone due to their creed. Take a moment to think about the views of people in your company. Tell us a bit about them. This is voluntary as we know many people value their privacy in this area, as they should. (Give them time to think and respond)
You like some people and their ideas more than others. That’s not just okay but good. That’s the diversity of thought that we talked about earlier. But it’s about more than that. It’s great to accept someone but to create great things you need to respect your team members as well.
Sometimes there are beliefs we simply can’t go back on. It’s okay to have these. You can still work well with someone of an opposing belief system. As long as your beliefs lead you to creativity and good work it is no problem. In fact it’s undeniable that some great work came from people who disagreed. Can you think of any situations in your own life where disagreement led to greater respect and better work? (Give them time to respond)
But what about someone who has a negative belief that they promote to others? In larger organizations this isn’t hard to solve. You can move someone with a toxic belief around or make sure it isn’t brought up in normal conversations. In smaller ones this is much harder as they may be a key person.
In cases where someone doesn’t have mutual respect with any team members it is best for them to leave. You should make every effort to avoid this but sometimes you cannot. As we all know business sometimes has hard decisions. Handling this can be tough as the employee you remove might have legitimate concerns about the state of the business. Nonetheless, it needs to happen for the company to grow. Many of you have probably had to do this a few times already.
Managers, you should set some time for employees to bond. This could be at a party or even an athletic festival. Whatever you think that they would enjoy most. You could have a central theme for it. People let their guard down and connect when they are out of a stressful work environment. This isn’t always something you can do.
Workshop and educational courses also work in this area. Some of you may create a few bonds today. Did our talk so far give you any ideas about respecting coworkers? (Let them respond) That’s good, we should always think about this in life as well as business.
All of these lead to a respectful work place where people enjoy coming to work. Financially successful employers already realize this. They work on it in at least a few small ways. The top performers do much more. But as always don’t just listen to us. Once again it is:
Evidence Time: Many of you listening to this already know that mutual respect is good. We wouldn’t chase after it so often otherwise. In many ways this point is affirmed by simple human nature. As writer G.K. Chesterton put it: “the real great man is the man who makes every man feel great”. It’s crucial to leadership and life in general. You already know this to be true in your hearts.
One example comes from an interesting area: Singapore. Manpower Minster Lim Swee Say set it as the number one objective for the country. In an increasingly competitive world economy this draws great employees and keeps the ones already there. If it’s good enough for an entire country to target then it’s definitely sufficient for businesses.
Trust leads to respect and the opposite is also true. According to “Rebuilding Trust in the Workplace” by doctors Dennis and Michelle Reina this is as true as ever. They studied hundreds of businesses over 20 years for their book. What they found was that a lack of respect leads to a lack of trust. Once that happens you have massive inefficiency, huge turnover rates, and overall negligence in attendance. To no one’s surprise, people hate working places where teams do not share mutual respect.
But what about the money? That’s what many of you want to hear about. How will this make money for us and our company? The answer there comes from CostCo. Their code of ethics and focus on human dignity is unparalleled in America today. They put out high wages and great benefits for many workers. There is a clear chain of command with both trust and respect.
They constantly make sure their employees know about their value. As such they receive incredible work from the company as a whole. The results of these policies are undeniable: their stock trades at more than $150 per share. That’s something that few businesses ever reach. For the niche market they sever this is a very high number. It’s even more impressive when you realize their main competitor is Wal-Mart.
Google is another company with incredible employee benefits. Flex time, paid time off, and excellent health care are just a few ways that they make sure each employee feels great. This reflects in their work as they feel better and interact with each other more. This additional interaction leads to an intense growth of mutual respect. What are the results? Their stock regularly sits above $950 a share. It’s obvious that this is a major fact in making money.
Workshop Time: Spend a small amount of time discussing these points:
- Do you ever have to deal with someone who has beliefs that you don’t respect at work?
- Is there any way you can repair this relationship?
- Does your leadership team help you build this every day?
- Do you worry that other people do not respect you at work?
- Is there someone in your group who you have great respect for?
- How did they gather that respect with you?
One of the major themes in business writing today is “Diversity Marketing”. If you read any current books or LinkedIn articles you will see this. Some of you may even watch it pop up on Facebook or Twitter. So why is this so popular? Why are all the big CEO writers excited about it today? We are going to explore that in this section.
Diversity Marketing mostly refers to pointing out the positive, diverse aspects of your company. Ideally, it helps people understand why your company is responsible and better than other businesses. The belief of many business and marketing professionals is that this does help.
Is it true though? We’ll present evidence later, but to the best of our understanding it does. Given similar factors of cost and quality people will go with the business that is diverse and socially responsible. There is also evidence that this becomes more important as our culture changes.
It’s a difficult subject for many professionals. The reason is that you are, in a sense, saying to choose your project because you are “noble”. Most of us have difficulty with this. After all, isn’t the good deed itself reward enough? What do you think about this? (Give them some time to answer)
We all have some things to struggle through there. What we need to keep in mind is that intentions and results are what matters. If you help more people due to this or improve the lives of employees that is what matters. In many ways, that is all that matters. This doesn’t apply to everything in life but it works here. In situations where you aren’t hurting people the end result is what matters.
Another part of this is that today this truth is unavoidable. In a world where everyone can review you online in a second, trust matters. Providing a superior service is great but without client trust there is no one to buy it. You cannot avoid building this trust in every way you can. If you do then you will fall by the wayside in the competitive global market.
A factor you cannot separate this is environmental responsibility. This is because the same people who look for diversity also look for a green focus. They go hand-in-hand and few businesses manage both of these well. Most of us understand this if you think about it. Have you ever gone to a grocery store or other business and bought the environmentally product? (Give them some time to answer)
Most of us have done this and felt good about it. Even if you haven’t you’ve certainly donated to a church, charity, or scout troop. We all felt a bit better for a few moments. It’s not a bad thing to feel this way or to take this into account for business. You aren’t exploiting someone if your product does this. It makes their day a bit better in most situations.
Ideally your company should have someone trained in this as well. If you do not, then perhaps you could become that person. Anyone with a basic understanding of communications can do this. There are hundreds of books that reference this and dozens of courses. With enough spare time, you can gain the same level of knowledge as anyone else here.
This also poses another interesting question. Where is the line between making money for your business and improving the world? Do you have any thoughts on this subject? (Give them some time to answer)
Good answers. The way we see it is that there doesn’t need to be much of a line. You can make money and help improve the world through acceptance. There are of course pitfalls to this, but a responsible business can make this work. It’s up to you to figure out how to do that in your own unique situation.
The entire company can work on this as well. In the social media age marketing is a collaborative effort. In some ways it always was. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are just a few ways to get your point across. It also provides your promotional managers with a lot of new material to work with.
Telling diverse employee stories is also a part of this. If you come from another culture or have a unique racial background let your managers know. Help them tell your story. It could improve your future career prospects and it also makes the company look great. It’s the rare win-win situation that we always hear about.
Many of you are probably wondering why this happened. At one point Caucasians were the majority. Minorities were largely irrelevant due to small numbers and low purchasing power. Since the end of segregation this situation slowly changed. According to Pew research numbers minority births now outnumber majority births. Increased financial mobility and this population shift now mean that you can no longer diversity. It’s the only way to appeal to a huge number of customers.
Pepsi was one of the first companies to see the value here. In 1974 they put out posters and other promotional materials. These stood out to many people. It was a less tolerant time of course. There were African-Americans displayed prominently working together. This was a major part of what took Pepsi from a mid-size bottler to a major competitor in the drink market today. Most of drank a Pepsi at least a few times in our lives.
Jell-O tapped African-American and then wholesome actor Bill Cosby for their company. As such Jell-O grew massively. Despite recent scandals he stood as a beautiful example of diversity and the American dream back then. The campaign was incredibly popular and people “ate up” the products. Today they have dozens of items on our shelves. It’s incredibly hard to find a single grocery store without them.
This is happening with or without you. J.C. Penny, Cheerios, and Chevrolet are just a few companies that use this to their advantage. Marketing strategies shift over the years and they did so here. It’s time to move forward or get left behind.
Workshop Time: Spend a small amount of time discussing these points:
- Can you think of a diversity marketing campaign that you loved in the media?
- Does the company have a great campaign in place for this here?
- Are we in a good place for diversity in the company today?
- What can we do to improve our situation here?
- Can my personal social media presence help the company?
Even if none of our other arguments swayed you there is one you cannot avoid. Authority figures mandate diversity. Some of us actually respond better to negatives than positives. So, this point actually deals with the negative things that happen when you don’t promote diversity.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 laid out some basic protections against discrimination. It also lays out punishments for those who decide to ignore diversity and discriminate. Disabled people, minorities, and many more are all protected here. It’s a very good thing and we believe in it. Those who want to ignore this put their companies at risk. Can you think of any ways this might hurt a company? (Give the class some time to respond)
It looks like some of you already have a decent idea of the risks. You can receive immense fines for this. In extreme circumstances, such as where violence came into play, you could even face jail time. While we want to promote a positive work place it’s clear to see what happens when you don’t. We’ll go over some examples in this area a bit later.
Religion provides an additional condemnation for a lack of diversity. The United Conference of Catholic Bishops constantly promotes a message of increased cultural improvement. No matter what your religion is they almost certainly have a positive message on it.
Our educational system now pushes this message forward from when we are a small child. We are told not to judge people by their skin or practices. It’s a good message for all of us. In many schools racist areas are frowned upon or punished. It makes perfect sense to change minds at this early stage.
This continues until you reach college, where many schools promote the idea further. Some would argue they push a bit too hard with it. Can you think of a time where someone pushed a bit too hard with their ideas? (Give them some time to respond)
So as you can see, it’s clear that isn’t just a good idea to promote diversity. Our culture has a great deal of systems that actively punish racism and hatred. Most people at least look down on those who are overt racists. There are areas in America where this is less true, but in mid to large businesses it’s fairly normal.
For those of you wondering whether this is a statement that racism is dead, it is not. There are instances of it in every aspect of American culture. It’s why we have to continually fix it. Condemning this sort of behavior is a good start of course.
For multinational businesses, this holds true as well. While some countries are obviously far behind in this area, such as China, that isn’t true everywhere. Western and middle European countries are, on average, very far ahead on restrictions here.
In many ways, it hurts your marketing image as well. We’ve already discussed a few of the lawsuits that damaged companies before. The media loves a scandal. If your company makes themselves a target then you go on the chopping block. It’s best to hope you have a true legend in marketing to fix this. Or that you avoid it entirely, as we suggest.
Employees also act as judges too. While they may do the work of a racist superior they won’t enjoy it. This is a hundred times truer for minority workers. Hellish would be an accurate word to describe working under someone who feels racism towards you. Many employees simply leave when this happens.
Many of them do not leave without filing a lawsuit first. In this way the government provides another punishment for those who ignore diversity. Even if you win a case or settle it’s a significant waste of time and resources. No one likes to lose thousands or even millions of dollars for no good reason.
For management and executives this is crucial. Does your company have cliques with hateful beliefs? Think for a moment, you don’t need to answer. (Give them a moment to think) If the answer is no, then great. You are well on the way to having an even better company. If the answer is yes then you need to address this.
Be sure to keep your ears open in this area as well. We don’t mean censor someone for a mild comment. It’s organizational racism you have to guard against. The type that actually hurts people. Too many in business leadership simply assume everything is fine. Eventually they receive a wake-up call when a good employee leaves or files a lawsuit. Make sure that you don’t become that person.
A popular and often misattributed saying is that “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”. In the case of business, eternal vigilance is the only way to avoid massive fines and lawsuits. Check your own company at all times to make sure you have a healthy working environment. The money and job that you save could end up being your own.
BankcorpSouth received a $10.6 million dollar fine due to discriminatory lending. The court officials said that they overwhelmingly denied loans to qualified minority candidates. Imagine what they could have done with that additional money for their company.
Wells Fargo paid a whopping $175 million due to a race discrimination probe. Investigators found that they discriminated against minorities in hiring and overall treatment. This created an environment that wasn’t hospitable to new ideas.
Bank of America received A $2 million dollar fine for their discriminatory hiring practices. According to court documents they turned down African-Americans for entry-level positions. They did this completely out of proportion to their hiring methods in other parts of the company.
German police raided the homes of 36 people who posted hateful messages online. These were nonviolent posters who broke hate speech laws. Companies without a focus on racial and cultural equality don’t exist in Germany, for the most part. In this area of the world diversity is the law. They also respect Nazi symbols and speech as well.
Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom have similarly restrictive laws as well. You can get in serious trouble all around Europe here.
Workshop Time: Spend a small amount of time discussing these points:
- Were there times in your life that authority corrected your actions fairly?
- Is anyone in your section of the business putting forth actions that could endanger your company?
- Have you personally been the victim of a racially or culturally insensitive manager?
- Are there times when authorities should step in to punish harmful behavior?
- How can your behavior protect and improve the company?
Now we know what to do and basically how to do it. There is something in the way though. It’s the “Status Quo”. Most people in America today pay lip service to multiculturalism. But when the time comes to check their status they are “fine” or “good enough”. The status quo is the idea that most companies are fine and do not need much help in this area. It’s also something you must overcome.
This probably won’t shock most of you: most business diversity programs fail. There are a million reasons for this. For many the status quo gets in the way. Bosses announce their success before anything changes. Employees push back against diversity due to what they see as “unfair” changes. We don’t want you to leave here and create another failing program.
So what you can you personally? Even if you hold some power you are only one person in a group. Change starts with you. This is true in your personal life and in business as well. Take a moment out of your day to learn about a coworker who isn’t familiar to you. Read a book about some place you never visited. Some of you already do this. Can you tell us about anything you already do in this area? (Give them a bit of time to answer)
Some members of your group may stand up for the status quo. It’s not because they are some sort of racist or bigot. It’s because they like how things are now. They are “good enough”. Unfortunately words like those are the enemy of successful businesses. Complacency breeds bankruptcy. If you have someone like that then try to gently nudge them towards diversity programs.
Motivation for change is important. Classes like these are a good step in the right direction. You need to create an atmosphere where your people care about change and diversity. Doing this is tough but if you can show them the benefits it’s easier to make them see. In many ways that is the entire point of our class here. It is to help you see all the positive change that diversity brings about in your company and lives.
Even if you fail early on do not let that dissuade you. As with most things in life we fail early on. The best among us get back up and try again. Many businesses have problems early on that they work through. Several of these even create a superior program by learning from their mistakes. Can you think of any times a failure led to you becoming stronger? (Give them some time to answer)
It’s just a part of the human experience and we’ve all felt it. But what about when the challenge comes from your work culture at large? Sometimes nearly everyone in the group sees nothing wrong. There are two ways you can go when this happens:
- Give up and decide everything is fine. This is of course a very bad idea.
- Work slowly to put forth small measures toward diversity. Change the culture of your company a bit at a time.
Small changes and new ideas can change even the most powerful culture. A few key leaders can make all the difference to the overall vision. Employees can also influence their bosses to do better work or improve the beliefs across the company as well. Everyone matters when it comes to developing your business culture.
This could take years, as you might expect. But that’s normal for any real change in the world. There are only a few times in history where the status quo broke quickly. You should never let that discourage you.
This rule also applies to negative status quos in general for your business. You are probably working at a good place, if they’re interested in diversity to this degree. That doesn’t mean everything is perfect though. Take a moment and think about any things considered “normal” here that you dislike. You can probably think of at least one. (Give them some time to think)
No matter what your challenges are, you can overcome them. Even if you have a great culture right now you can always make it a little better, every day. When you leave here we already want you to start thinking about how to do so.
Evidence Time: AirBnB has for some time been synonymous with racism and discrimination. Interestingly enough, the majority didn’t come from company officers. It came from the people they set up to rent their establishments out. A lack of rules and guidance for renters led to a toxic cycle. Their core leadership also lacked diversity, which probably led to this blind spot. They are reinventing their entire company now. The status quo didn’t work so they are fixing it.
It’s just a business fact that Apple’s business leadership lacks diversity. You can see it from press conferences that are overwhelmingly white and male. They are a massively successful company, but what the media and business theorists constantly assert is that their lack of diversity hurts them. Theoretically they could be more successful by diversifying their board. Apple is a business to watch as many board members aren’t interested in diversity either. It’s a tough situation to learn from.
What happens when discrimination is not just the status quo but is part of the law? We can look to the slave ownership days of America and the suffering there. Thousands of new people came to toil every year and were treated as less than human. 10.7 million people came to our shores and this was fine. People embraced it and some even fought for it.
If you want a modern example than look no further than Bosnia. Their constitution actually insures the right to discrimination for some people. Anyone familiar with Bosnia knows that it isn’t a great place to live, to say the least. Those who study it quite a bit know the unbelievable horror of a society where discrimination is mandatory.
Workshop Time: Spend a small amount of time discussing these points:
- Are there times in your life where a negative status quo held you back?
- Do any parts of your business show these characteristics?
- Are there positive status quo factors within the company?
- Is there anything you can do personally to improve the situation?
- Was there a time in your life where you grew “complacent?”
Our final note is in dealing with difficulties when implementing these plans. There is a saying that “nothing in life worth doing is ever easy.” Well, this is worth doing and as you might expect it isn’t easy. We’ll address some questions we all have when talking about this.
Diversity hiring is a problem for many HR areas. The reasons are obvious; some areas have too many qualified candidates in a certain demographics. Others have too few minority or female candidates. This fact is not racist in and of itself. Indeed, in a truly diverse community this naturally happens. So how do you deal with it? Give us a few of your own ideas now (Give them some time to throw out ideas)
Larger corporations can use relocation. Drawing good people in from other countries or parts of the world works well. For mid-size to smaller businesses this is much harder. Many of us cannot afford to bring in someone from around the country or around the world. This creates a tough obstacle.
One solution is to look for college students who meet your diversity requirements. Offer them internships and job training. Give them a great offer of employment when they are done. Plan out who you want to target and where. You may find that you’ve crafted an absolutely amazing employee who truly cares about your company.
What should you not do? Hire simply based on diversity. Hiring someone simply due to their skin color or culture is the definition of racism. Well-meaning government officials and diversity officers set quotas on things like this. While they have the best intentions, they harm those they are trying to help. An unprepared student in college fails out if they got in just due to their race.
Similarly, an unprepared employee puts out awful work and faces unemployment. Good workers exist in all races and cultures. Some companies do something equally toxic. They ignore any sort of diverse hiring and claim no one is qualified. Saying that there are no female or minority candidates in your area that are highly qualified and intelligent is also, you guessed it, the essence of racism.
Reviewing your diversity progress is essential as well. There is significant evidence that companies which simply put policies in place become less diverse. How can diversity rules make your company less diverse? Think about it for a bit and tell us what you think. (Give them time to respond)
In business, as in life, it’s clear that good intentions aren’t enough. Diligence is the key to creating a positive cycle of diversity. It isn’t something you just implement one day and it’s done. It’s a series of small tasks. This includes not insulting other cultures but it’s equally important to listen to others. Just showing interest in other people is the largest part of this work.
Keep in mind that bigotry breeds bigotry. There are companies now with bigots at extreme levels of power. They lead projects and teach workers. Unfortunately they teach them profoundly horrible values. Be sure to survey your own leadership for these people. If you find them then it is best to remove the as quickly as possible.
So what do you do when you’ve improved your situation? Once you see progress you should never stop. Never sit satisfied with yourselves. That is how things collapse. Complacency kills diversity, as it ruins so many other beautiful things about life. If you have five female minority members, shoot for ten. Only when you have a truly equal board are you done for the time being.
Also, avoid toxic ideas like having groups that share just one set of beliefs. Always seek to challenge your own assertions and look at other ideas. Otherwise you will fall apart. Has anything we discussed today help you do this? (Give them some time to respond)
If so then we’ve achieved what we came here to do. If not then tell us how we can improve. It’s very bad to tell someone “Do as I say, not as I do”. We want to improve while helping others learn as well.
Uber is a great example of the problems that come out when you don’t survey every level of the company for diversity. The independent taxi service saw incredible growth. It is also known for having a profoundly toxic culture.
This goes back to our point that bigotry breeds bigotry. Co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick is cited for creating many of the problems. He created and fostered a toxic culture that harassed women and minorities. As you might expect, he was called into account by the media and lawsuits. The company now faces waves of lawsuits due to their culture.
While we fully believe in diversity hiring there is solid evidence it can be done wrong. The Harvard Business Review did an extensive study on this. They based their conclusions on studies from the University of California. Their study found that diversity policies often don’t make the work diverse. A chief reason for this is hiring unqualified candidates. Another one is that companies do not work on it continually. It’s easy to get lazy once you decide you are fine.
It’s not all negative though. We saved the best facts for last. Here are the financial figures on the American businesses with the best diversity. These numbers are based on positions from Diversity Inc and tax returns:
- #1 for diversity – Ernst and Young $28.7 billion dollars in revenue as of 2015
- #2 – Kaiser Permanente $60.7 billion dollars in revenue as of 2015
- #3 – AT and T 163.8 billion dollars in revenue as of 2015
- #4 – Price, Waterhouse and Coopers $35.9 billion dollars in revenue as of 2016
- #5 – Johnson and Johnson $71.89 billion dollars in revenue as of 2016
Workshop Time: Spend a small amount of time discussing these points:
- Can our company reach new billion-dollar heights through diversity?
- How can the management team and employees work well together to promote diversity?
- Is our board diverse?
- Do our core values reflect a mission of diversity and dialogue?
- Is this the competitive advantage we need?
With this we come to the end of our course. If you have time feel free to let us know what you thought of it. We always want to learn from you. If you didn’t enjoy it as much as you could have then we want to know that to. We will send you a survey after this course, please fill it out when you have time.