Leaders often wonder why a diverse talent pool at junior levels doesn’t equate to a similarly diverse senior management. If this sounds familiar to you that’s good – you’ve already started questioning. And a curious mindset is a precursor to change.
Most organisations believe they are meritocracies. However, it is easy to overlook those introductions and opportunities that arise from being inherently drawn to our own groups – comfort with the familiar and tribalism are coded into us through evolution.
We all have biases that could do with being addressed. But whether our biases are conscious or unconscious, the reality of the corporate world is that conformity is rewarded, and non-conformity makes us uncomfortable. So while we might say we want a more diverse talent pool and leadership, the reality of seeking people with different backgrounds and life experiences is that they will have different ways of thinking. Therefore creating an inclusive environment is essential.
As a leader it will be helpful to ask yourself these questions:
– How open is my organisation to hearing different perspectives?
– How easy do we make it for ideas to be heard?
– Are we able to differentiate between a performance-based and a cross-cultural misunderstanding? What do we need to learn in order to tell the difference?
– What are turnover rates by group? This analysis is most useful in large organisations – in smaller ones, exit interviews conducted by third parties are essential so that leavers can speak with candour.
Some of your answers might be a little uncomfortable and so an external perspective can be helpful before making sweeping changes.
The main thing is creating an environment where everyone has the opportunity to flourish.