Diversity – Who Cares?
In a previous article regarding the traits of a high performance workplace (https://www.mckenziehr.com/enews/july2006.htm), it was mentioned, that diversity just happens in organizations that only care about getting the best person for the job. The article stated, “The high performance organization is not interested in what a person looks like or where they were born. The only important factor is what contributions the individual will make. Because of this, the high performance workplace is constantly looking for the best people - period.”
We still introduce this article when conducting diversity training to management employees and there is quite a bit of push back on this point with many saying that the organization has to work harder to find qualified minority candidates.
Untrue!! If your organization gains a reputation for hiring the best person for the organization regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, martial status, disability, sexual orientation, sexual identity, veteran status, citizenship, genetic predisposition to certain diseases or any other personal characteristic that could be considered a protected class, than your applicant pool will likely increase substantially. In turn, you will have more people to choose from and have the ability to hire the best.
It is mind boggling that so many organizations have Diversity Directors or similar positions. What do they really do? What purpose do they really serve? Why is such a position necessary?
Now there are a number of companies that need to subcontract a portion of their business deals to minority or woman owned businesses. This should not be an issue, nor should we have an issue with Affirmative Action. The primary purpose of an Affirmative Action Plan is to ensure that the percentage of minorities and females in your workforce meet the availability of similarly skilled minorities and females in the recruitment area. How could anyone have a problem with this?
At the same time, our firm has also seen a number of EEOC charges that have been filed that are obviously filed just to be a nuisance to the former employer. In fact these charges are too frivolous to be called frivolous.
Southwest Airlines is usually used as an example of one of the best places to work. A couple of years ago, they had a backlog of about 65,000 applications. Looking at their employees, it is about as diverse a group as you can find. The employees seem to be having fun and genuinely care about customer service, on-time departures and clean airplanes. The interesting thing is that Southwest has been able to sustain this high level of performance for many years now. It is firmly engrained in their culture.
High performance workplaces do not have trouble finding great employees. Even when there was full employment in the late 1990’s and 2007, the best places to work were able to attract excellent people. When individuals of different ethnic or social backgrounds applied for jobs, their response was. “Who cares?”
Does your culture reward excellent work, promote a team environment and welcome new people with open arms regardless of any of the protected status classes mentioned above?
The best determinant of a truly diverse workforce is to ask employees about the diversity of the work force. If they say something to the effect that they don’t think about it often or don’t really think it is issue, then more than likely, you have succeeded in being a highly diverse workplace.
If they say, “Who cares?” you definitely made it. Congratulations.