Diversity and Inclusion policies are about more than an active effort to reach out to diverse groups and put them in positions where they can have influence and be heard. That's obviously very important. But, these efforts are relatively easy to implement, because they involve specific activities that can be planned and executed. Equally important is the culture of an organization and its brand. That's not quite so easy.
You can do all the recruiting you want, but if women, minorities and other diverse groups don't have a good feeling about the true nature of your organization, it will be difficult to recruit them in any meaningful sense.
What Messages are You Inadvertently Sending?
That "good feeling" is largely a product of two elements: brand and culture. Both of these elements aren't easily adjustable based on individual pushes like recruitment campaigns. Rather, they require long-term concerted efforts to mold how the company is perceived by the market, job applicants, and the public in general. They also require a focus on supporting the core values of the organization internally.
A recent article for CNN by Frank Pallotta demonstrates the challenge companies face if they can't portray a diverse and inclusive environment through their brand and culture. "Actress Emma Thompson has made public her reason for dropping out of 'Luck,' a highly-anticipated animated feature by Skydance Animation," he writes. "In a letter to Skydance management about her departure, Thompson expressed 'discomfort' working with the company's newly-hired animation chief John Lasseter, who left Pixar last year after he was accused of sexual misconduct."
Your Decisions Have an Impact
Thompson's letter questions Skydance's decision to hire someone like Lasseter, known for a pattern of inappropriate sexual behavior toward women. She expressed discomfort at the thought of working with him. This is a great example of what a company's actions can tell potential "employees" (Thompson wouldn't have been a typical employee of Skydance) about the organization's culture and values vis a vis inclusion despite any efforts it might make to outwardly project an image of diversity and inclusion.
How can a company hope to demonstrate inclusiveness of women when it hires someone with a history of misconduct toward women and places him in a prominent role? It is precisely these types of actions that serve to belie whatever public exhortations a company may make about its culture.
Walk the talk. Be inclusive!
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