Diversity and Inclusion – Martin Luther King Day
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This is inspired from Inclusion training I received at Compuware years back. We had 12 people in a room and all received a card with 2 sentences typed on it. The task was to count the number of “Fs” on your card and then stand with your group of those with the same number. I was in the 7F group. There were 4 of us. The 2F group had one person; the 9F had 2. Most popular was the 6F group with 5 people. Then we were told we all had the exact number of Fs and we could change groups if we wanted to. We all reread our cards. One person changed to the next group but the rest of us were 100% sure that we were right in the number of Fs and the rest of the groups were wrong. The point here is that out of our racially diverse group with 6 men and 6 women, we all processed the exact same information differently and we were all wrong. There were 11 Fs on each card, and none of us saw all 11! (I neglected to count the “Fs” in “of, if, off...”)
So, today we are celebrating Martin Luther King Day. He is remembered for his peaceful but determined leadership and the dream of having all people of all races, colors, and religions accepted as equals in our great country. Yes, we are a diverse country and most people will tell you its one of our strengths.
Diversity may be our great first step in tapping into the strengths of our people but Inclusion is the next step in making sure everyone hired has a voice. We can hire all the smart people we can find, but if we don’t give them a chance to talk because they see 9Fs, we lose. And if we hire people just like us, we lose. Inclusion, at least from business perspective, is one of the most powerful tools an organization can possess. And it comes from the top.
Inclusion can be valuable because none of us process information and ideas, or even see and hear things exactly the same. This means the Introvert in a room of Extroverts should not be overlooked. Susan Cain’s book “Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World that Cannot Stop Talking,” brings to light the value of people usually pushed aside for a noisy leader with shallow ideas. When this Introvert is given a chance to voice his or her ideas, they are most likely well thought-out, if divergent from the rest of the room.
Introversion, Dyslexia, and types of Autism (among others) bring brilliant minds with thought processes and social interactions a little different than some others. These people may not be as polished, articulate, or social as some, but their perspectives and ideas will continue to go untapped unless we hire and listen. Want to remain competitive in a global marketplace? Hire Diversity and Include.