America is the land of opportunity, so it’s natural for us to embrace diversity on principle. We believe everyone should have equal opportunities for success. Diversity has proven to be good for business as well. The McKinsey & Company study from a few years ago found that gender and racially diverse companies were more likely to financially outperform those that were not.
“More diverse companies, we believe, are better able to win top talent and improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making, and all that leads to a virtuous cycle of increasing returns,” the authors concluded.
Promoting a diverse culture takes more than strongly worded handbooks and zero-tolerance policies. Business leaders must actively promote a culture of diversity that employees will participate in because they want to, not because they have to.
NJBIA is devoting a good portion of its July 21 seminar on how to put together diversity programs that really work. (The seminar is called “Increasing Your Organization’s Cultural Competency.” Go here for more information).
One of the biggest obstacles to the ideal of diversity is what researchers call implicit bias—the attitudes or stereotypes that unconsciously affect our understanding, actions, and decisions. They key word here is “unconsciously.” The overtly bigoted Archie Bunker types wouldn’t get very far in the modern business world, but we all have implicit bias and we act on it without realizing what we are doing.
So how do you figure out how much your implicit bias affects your decisions?
There’s no sure-fire test, but some of the nation’s top academic researchers have put together a variety of tests to help people measure their unconscious attitudes. They formed a nonprofit organization called Project Implicit in 1998, which offers a variety of Implicit Association Tests for free. They can be taken online and involve about 10 minutes of answering questions. You can click here for any number of tests to confidentially and privately get a handle on your attitudes or beliefs.
Just please don’t share them or the results of your test with your workforce.
Diversity is quickly becoming a watchword for business, a concept that can benefit employers both legally and financially. Getting an honest assessment of how much we embrace diversity is a good place to start.
If you want to dive deeper, go here to register for “Increasing Your Organization’s Cultural Competency, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., July 21, at Ramblewood Country Club in Mt. Laurel.”