At New Story’s recent quarterly leadership summit, Alexandria Lafci (a cofounder and friend) presented on the value of diversity in the workplace. With patience and empathy, she shared in depth research and permitted an endless stream of questions. Reflecting on her thoughtful presentation, it felt like something worth sharing.
We should be understanding, accepting, and valuing differences between people of different races, ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, disabilities, and sexual orientations, as well as differences in personalities, skill sets, experiences, and knowledge bases. That’s not to imply most people are outwardly aggressive or openly alienate those who are different. In many cases however, it’s our unconscious biases that wreak the most havoc.
Awareness is the first step toward making a change.
It was clarifying to see diversity in two categories: inherent diversity and acquired diversity.
Inherent diversity includes Demographic characteristics like race, sex, and age.
Acquired diversity includes factors such as education, experience, values, skills and knowledge.
Despite what people may believe about human rights, a strong business case exists for diversity as well. According to the University of Michigan, “Groups of diverse problem solvers outperform groups of high-ability problem solvers.”
McKinsey conducted a study in which they discovered that “companies with diverse executive boards enjoy significantly higher earnings and returns on equity.”
That’s not to say the appearance of diversity it important. What matters is giving everyone within the group an equal voice at the table. It is the presence and leveraging of unique perspectives and experiences that drives the increase in performance.
Work compensation is the most objective measure of inequality. For instance, studies show that Latin females make less than 50 cents on the dollar.
One of the simplest ways we’ve found to combat such indifference at Polar Notion is to institute transparent compensation across the organization. Those within the organization understand how their pay was determined, what it takes to move up, and how it compares to their peers. It involved defining each tier and diving deep into expectations, but the veil of compensation is non existent. Interestingly enough, it was the pursuit of greater team buy-in and enriched collaboration that sparked transparent salaries. Equality was a natural benefit of that same level of transparency.
Today, I’m still learning a lot about what diversity truly means. It’s invaluable to have friends like Alexandria and others willing to engage in discourse. My process is imperfect and comes with a renewing sense of discomfort. However, the pursuit is important and I hope our teams and communities are better for it.
Feel free to read more about my gateway into the topic of diversity.