February. Black history month. And what’s it got to do with you anyway?traffic

  • In 1923 an African American trailblazer named Garrett Morgan invented the 3-light traffic signal. Consider that next time you make that green light just in the nick of time.
  • Or when you’re stuck in traffic behind a ginormous refrigerator truck, remember that an African American innovator named Frederick McKinley Jones invented it in 1940.
  • And then there’s your home security phone app. The audio, video, door lock and other digital components are features few of us can imagine living without today. Well, the earliest version of this home security system was patented in 1969 by an African American woman  in Queens, New York. Her name was Marie Van Brittan Brown. Her inspiration: she fretted about being home alone when her husband worked nights. 

For many of us, history is just that—history. The past. It’s over and done with, so let’s move on, right?  Well, yes and no. I mean, we make history every day. And sometimes tidbits of bygone trivia can open our eyes to how much past events can shape the choices we make now. And it can be both enlightening and sobering to consider the contributions of people we don’t value highly or even pay much attention to on a daily basis. 

The benefits of diversity

Few of us would disagree with English poet William Cowper who wrote this in 1785: “Variety’s the very spice of life/That gives it all its flavour.”

But for some of us, the word “diversity” is the type of variety that conjures up less savory ideas like cross-culturalism and pluralism. That’s because the threat of the unfamiliar can be a barrier to equity and inclusion.

Paradoxically though, when incorporated into a company’s business model and fully embraced by leadership, diversity can actually promote unity.  And while the word “quotas” once left a bad taste in some mouths, the benefits of diversity have sweetened the idea in many American corporations.

shutterstock 765674290 1For one thing, today’s workforce is younger and more predisposed to diversity. 

According to bonus.ly, “…younger Americans (under the age of 44) are increasingly members of minority groups—and these younger folks are seeking out workplaces that are focused on and committed to creating workplaces that reflect the country’s demographics and in which they feel welcome and respected.”

And Glass Door reported that: “67% of job seekers consider workplace diversity an important factor when considering employment opportunities, and more than 50% of current employees want their workplace to do more to increase diversity.”

According to a study by Mckinsey.com, “Companies with more than 30 percent women executives were more likely to outperform companies where this percentage ranged from 10 to 30, and in turn these companies were more likely to outperform those with even fewer women executives, or none at all….In the case of ethnic and cultural diversity, our business-case findings are equally compelling: in 2019, top-quartile companies outperformed those in the fourth one by 36 percent in profitability, slightly up from 33 percent in 2017 and 35 percent in 2014.”  

Diversity and your corporate culture

shutterstock 370390046 1While these stats may be enticing, you’ll first have to translate them to suit your environment. This may require new hiring policies, management sensitivity training, and other adjustments to your business model. But those changes will be worth it! Here are some concepts and policies to facilitate diversification in your company.

  • Human resources personnel should be trained to recruit employees accepting the whole person—their race, gender, and beliefs—and not just their skill set or talents.
  • A healthy corporate culture  must become a safe place for people of color and women to  be who they really are and to express their opinions without fear of retribution. 
  • The C-Suite occupants should be trained in the benefits of diversity and the behavioral nuances that foster inclusion. 
  • Managers should create opportunities for staff members to get to know each other outside the office. This  is a great way to build a diverse team and charitable team building workshops are an invaluable first step.
  • Initiating an open door policy will only work if leaders have open minds as well, and that can be problematic. DiSC personality profile training can help enlighten both minds and hearts so that every staff member can be valued and accepted by superiors and colleagues alike.
  • And as a leader, in addition to opening your mind, opening your mouth will be equally important. When you see or sense bias, you should say so. In a non-threatening, training or counseling environment, staff members with social, cultural, or racial biases can work through these issues and come out on the other side as better people and much better company assets.
  • Making and keeping promises is also an important step toward fully engaging a diverse staff. For example, if you promise equal pay or promotions, deliver. 

Incorporating diversity in your workplace

All of this may seem like a pretty tall order, but you don’t have to deliver on your own. Magnovo is a one-stop-shop for leaders who are ready to commit. Diversity training, employee engagement, and cultural transformation—let’s get started.