The uncomfortable truth is that when considering Diversity and Inclusion initiatives you have to work out why you’re doing them. Deeply examine, what is your motivation?

The uncomfortable truth is that if you believe being inclusive of ‘Diversity of Thought‘* in your organisation is doing enough, thinking you’re managing diverse representation, you are wrong.

When I refer to Diversity of Thought here, I mean a variety of preference e.g. those who are on opposite ends of the MBTI scale or those who are more creative thinkers rather than process thinkers, people whose perspectives vary a little. Without addressing demographic visible difference, inequality and access to opportunities, you’re maintaining the status quo. Your approach will be a sop to Inclusion efforts.

Please be aware, this is different from neurodiversity, those who are e.g. autistic, ADHD, Dyslexia etc. These groups are people who are also underrepresented in the workplace and I am not referring to them when I talk about ‘Diversity of Thought’.

The uncomfortable truth is that if you have ‘Diversity of Thought’ on your staff but little visible diversity, and few inclusive policies and practice to support that diversity, you are not addressing the underlying issues you need to as a modern, desirable employer or leader.

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) require you to make the uncomfortable change that results in something new. And, let’s be honest, the uncomfortable truth means those currently with the vast majority of the power and authority in our society need to give over some of their ground.

Suggesting that addressing ‘Diversity of Thought’ will accomplish what a proper Inclusion strategy should, is a distraction, a way of not giving up that ground.

Now, I know there are many who will nod their heads and agree, indeed, I’m speaking the truth; I’d also like to challenge you, if it meant you lost out, so someone equally deserving, and Black/disabled/woman (all three!), took your place, would you support that move?

Managing the discomfort of addressing difference is one of the big hurdles in D&I training and initiatives. The capacity to embrace it and see it as an opportunity for real learning and growth requires boundless humility and infinite maturity.

My main concern about addressing ‘Diversity of Thought’ is that there is a lack of discomfort. I’m uncomfortable writing this, that’s how I know it’s the right thing to do. As we all know, what’s right and what’s easy are rarely the same thing.

So, open your heart and your mind to the awkwardness, eschew notions of policies extolling ‘Diversity of Thought’, but support, believe in and champion change that will result in proper demographic representation.

Are you sitting uncomfortably? Then, we’ll begin…

This blog was originally written for the Institute of Company Secretaries ahead of their Board Dynamics conference on 1 Mar 2019.

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