While one person’s definition of diversity may differ from another’s, we’re united in our collective responsibility for fostering equity and inclusion in the workplace – and beyond. In our latest Breaking the Bias Podcast, recorded live at the Marketing Leadership Forum in Napa Valley, we talk to Mona Charif, NTT DATA, and Sharon Driscoll, IBM, to explore the complexities and the power of diversity.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) has become a critical focal point for organizations, so it’s more important than ever to engage in conversations to challenge the status quo and pave a way for meaningful change. And we certainly did this during our lively discussion with Mona, Sharon, and our fabulous live audience. There were so many diverse thoughts, ideas, and valuable insights into how we can create workplaces where all individuals can thrive. Here are just three thought-provoking highlights that really stood out for me.
1. It’s so much more than gender
While gender, ethnicity, and religion have long been recognized as the traditional dimensions of diversity, DE&I encompasses so much more. It also includes neurodiversity and different thinking styles, which can lead to enhanced problem solving and creativity. True diversity covers everything from personality, education, opinions – even clothes and tastes. Think about someone who’s shy vs someone who’s very confident. Shouldn’t they both get an equal chance to shine?
“I have a strong personality; I have a strong voice. There are others who I find to be really quietly brilliant. And if I’m always loud and getting my opinion across then I’ll never hear from those people. I try and find ways to give them a forum that would make them comfortable.”
There cannot be a stronger emphasis put on the power of diversity and different perspectives, and the positive impact they have on creativity and innovation. This combination not only enables individuals to feel comfortable and authentic in expressing their viewpoints, but also brings strength in collective intelligence.
2. It should be ingrained in an organization’s DNA
Leaders should have a personal investment and commitment to driving DE&I initiatives within their company. Without this, diversity will never thrive. Just as DNA holds the genetic code that shapes our individuality, embracing and fostering inclusivity empowers us to unlock the full potential of our teams. It should be ingrained in our values. Leaders hold the key here. They can propel change and create an environment where every voice is not just heard but celebrated.
“I’ve made sure the team is cognizant of how our marketing is reflecting the world around us. Are we representing diverse groups in our content on our website, in our materials? Just making sure that for those for whom it’s not in their DNA, we’re helping them be a little more conscious of it.”
Effective leaders demonstrate personal investment in driving meaningful change and cultivating a diverse and inclusive culture. Although these initiatives come with a fair share of challenges, creating a visible presence and making DE&I an integral part of our approach is the key to collectively challenging stereotypes and breaking down barriers.
3. It’s about having courage in your convictions
Even when faced with self-doubt or external discouragement, it’s crucial to have faith in yourself and your abilities. Stand firm in your beliefs, values, and goals. Be willing to challenge the status quo and make bold choices based on what you feel is right. This involves being authentic, speaking up for what you believe in and, sometimes, having to take a calculated risk to pursue your convictions.
“I had a great mentor years ago, who said that the most senior of executives ask for help. You’re being strong in your ask; it’s not saying, ‘I’m weak’, it’s saying ‘I don’t understand this’. And that’s important. Keep your mind open. And if you do and you’re constantly pushing for what’s next and what’s new, that’s how I think you stay diverse, open, and encouraged.”
But it’s not just limited to personal beliefs; it extends to championing others, advocating for underrepresented groups, and making sure diverse perspectives are voiced and, importantly, heard. This is where mentors come in – the belief they have in someone’s potential can have a huge transformative impact.
Listen to the full podcast here.
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