Breedlove's Briefing: Five Common D&I Myths

February 24 - Stephanie Breedlove

Hi! I’m Stephanie Breedlove, Co-Founder of HomePay, Author and Angel Investor.

I absolutely adore taking an idea and giving it life in the form a business, then leading it to its full potential. Nothing is more fun. (Seriously!) I’d love for every woman who wants to start her own business to say the same thing, so here I am, mentoring millennial entrepreneurs. When I’m not working, I like to recharge and head outdoors to hike, bike, or stand up paddle board!

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This Week’s Must-Read:

Busted: Five Common Myths About Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace

Who it’s for:

Everyone in every company. Success requires shifting a paradigm.

Why it’s important:

The diversity and inclusion debate is a tired one – and there’s a growing sense of fatigue amongst many individuals and workplaces. ‘Artificial harmony’ is the idea that diverse and inclusive practices are prominent in certain sectors of an organization, but are largely misunderstood by the majority. As a result, society has constructed myths around what it really means to strive for diversity and inclusion.

The gender pay gap sits at 20.8 percent, and the representation of female chief executive has flatlined to 17.1 percent. Progress is still incredibly slow. Understanding is learning, and learning enacts change – the more uncomfortable we can become about discussing our blind spots, the more we can progress. Here are five of the most common myths about diversity and inclusion that we need to be talking about.

  1. I’m supportive of diversity and inclusion, but shouldn’t the best person get the role? In an ideal world, diversity and inclusion would be an intrinsic part of everyday life where all people are considered equal, while bias – unconscious or otherwise – wouldn’t exist. Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in yet. While talent may be equally distributed – opportunity is not. We must level out the playing field by assessing how men in higher-management positions attain their roles. The issues around legacy hires are becoming more prominent as we recognize personal connections are not the basis for employability. We must create these opportunities to give minorities a fighting chance at equality.
  2. Diversity and Inclusion is an HR issue. Think the last time you received an email from HR about a D&I initiative – did you rush to open it? The odd women’s breakfast event or international networking lunch is not enough – superficial inclusion will not affect real change. Those in senior roles must be the champions of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Vocalizing initiatives led from the top has the ability to enact cultural change better than a tired bulletin from HR that sits unopened in your inbox.
  3. I care about diversity and inclusion, but new hires need to be a cultural fit. It’s human nature to find comfort and trust in those that look, sound and act similar to us. This is often the foundation of a company culture, meaning businesses have a tendency to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach. There needs to be a change in mindset where new hires are not assessed on their cultural fit but their cultural add. Looking for the differences in people is what creates value in the workplace. We need to challenge our habits of seeking commonality to truly be inclusive and diverse, and that starts by celebrating difference.
  4. My business has an equal number of men and women, so we tick the diversity and inclusion box. Having a gender balance is important – and organizations that are actively implementing measures to ensure this should be celebrated. But gender is just one factor in a range of intersectional diversity and inclusion. Ticking one box and ignoring the rest does not automatically make a company diverse or inclusive – it’s a step in the right direction, but the work is not done. We must learn to make space for, and accept, differences in all forms.
  5. I’ve attended diversity and inclusion training, so I get it. Learning is what drives progress, but using the best mediums matters. Often diversity and inclusion training is led by HR teams where superficial and obvious information is conveyed by talking at large groups. The company ticks a box and gets on with business as usual – and teams follow suit. Real change comes from conversations where honest but respectful questions are encouraged without judgement, and diverse voices are heard the loudest. The conversations need to extend beyond the classroom to an everyday awareness of behavior. People and relationships are the foundation of successful businesses – so promoting social intelligence amongst employees should be an urgent priority.

Top Take-Away:

Creating a workplace culture where difference is celebrated and sought after for success will allow good ideas to become great, and will generate wins at every level. But it requires shifting a paradigm, and it will take commitment from all of us.

Additional reading on how you can be a part of progress for diversity and inclusion:

Diversity and Inclusion: A Beginner’s Guide

3 Requirements for a Diverse and Inclusive Culture

50+ Ideas for Cultivating Diversity and Inclusion

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