Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Today’s Workplace
In my Future of Leadership Podcast, I was honored to chat with Beverley Wright, founder and CEO of Wright Choice Group. Beverley offers executive leadership coaching, along with consulting and diversity, equity and inclusion services to clients across multiple industries.
And it gets even better: In 2021, Beverley was selected to the Thinkers50 List, an honor described by Financial Times as the “Oscars of Management Thinking.”
Our conversation focused on leadership, diversity, equity, and inclusion – but ultimately, it was all about humanity at work. I hope you’ll enjoy reading a few highlights from our engaging conversation. Listen to the full podcast here: https://512solutions.com/humanity-the-thread-through-leadership/.
The Role of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace
Diversity. Equity. Inclusion.
It’s not optional for the younger generation, says Beverley. Yes, the need has always been there, but our younger generation is pushing us – and in the process, we’re being forced to look at everything from a totally new perspective.
Beverly and I discussed diversity and belonging – making sure that everybody knows where their piece fits or that their piece fits wherever they want it to fit.
In a previous job, Beverly recalled talking with a newly hired young person who had a physical disability. As she spoke with her about her experience of onboarding and what she thought about the company, the young woman shared:
“I went home, and I told my parents, ‘I think I can be successful there because I see people just like me that have been successful there.'”
Quite Simply: Representation in the Workplace Matters.
Being able to see someone who is already successful, who has similar attributes, gives you the idea that you can be successful, too.
“When we talk about diversity, equity, and inclusion and belonging, all of those have the same thread through them,” explained Beverly. “We’ve got to have more humanity as leaders because people are yearning.”
I agree with Beverly.
Whether it’s diversity, equity, inclusion…whether it’s people feeling like they matter…whether it’s creating a work environment where people feel safe to be themselves…there are a lot of buzzwords floating around in today’s workplace, but the ultimate theme here is the thread of people, of humanity at work.
People Need to Know They Matter
Beverly recalled a successful conference she attended, where at the close, they acknowledged the kitchen staff. They thanked them for their wonderful service and had all the people come out of the kitchen and ring around the huge ballroom.
Beverly noted their faces were gleaming as everyone gave them a standing ovation.
“I have to this day never had the chills like that, because they had never been acknowledged that way before and you could tell it. They were literally shining…to have the people they had waited on so patiently and so well acknowledge their contribution.”
That’s powerful, isn’t it?
Intersectionality Matters to Today’s Generation of Workers
We know that today’s workforce – particularly younger generations – value DEI. But there’s more.
Ever heard of intersectionality? It is of great importance, Beverley explained.
During their non-profit Dallas Dinner Table event, Beverly related a young person who said that her generation wanted all facets of their lives to come together in one place.
Since they spend most of their time at work, they wanted the social, career and community service aspects intertwined together – even dating – since they can meet people right in their workplace, after all.
Hence the term intersectionality: younger generations want all these elements to “intersect” in the workplace.
Quiet Quitting: A New Phenomenon or an Old Foe?
Now for a contrast to DEI, intersectionality, and an overall willingness to cultivate humanity in the workplace…
What happens when employees feel like they don’t belong, like their work has little to no meaning, that they really don’t matter?
Quiet quitting. The concept of quiet quitting seems to be in every business article these days, but I’m not sure there’s anything necessarily new in this concept.
Beverly agrees, noting that we just gave it a new word, a new phrase. What we need to do is ask the right question to elicit the right response from employees. “What I would say to leaders that they can do to retain their current talent is to have those conversations on a regular basis,” she explained.
How Can Organizations Retain Their Current Talent?
Beverly suggests questions such as:
- What do you like about your job?
- What would you change if you could?
- Is there anything that would make you want to leave and go somewhere?
- What would attract you?”
Having ongoing conversations shows that you are interested in their opinion about their workplace.
6 Takeaway Highlights from this Future of Leadership Podcast
#1: We can learn from anyone, whether it’s what to do or what not to do. With every interaction with people, there’s something to learn.
#2: The secret sauce is the people. We have to figure out how to operationalize it. If we can, the return on people…there’s a direct link to your return on investment.
#3 When you show up as a leader, it extends the same opportunities for others to do the same.
#4 Intersectionality: the younger generation wants to see a social/career/personal connection in one central place in their work life, where they spend the most time.
#5: Diversity without equity is not enough. We must invest in people to create a level playing field so that people can see others who have similar characteristics and traits as them in the workplace. It ultimately leads to more success.
#6: The thread that connects all is humanity …treating people like humans.
That’s what ultimately creates a more deeply human workplace. If you missed the original podcast with Beverly and want to listen to the entire episode, you can check it out here: https://512solutions.com/humanity-the-thread-through-leadership/.
Explore the six Cs of ‘The Human Workplace Needs Model’ in my latest book, The Deeply Human Workplace. It provides leaders and teams with a roadmap for creating healthier, more aligned, and deeply human workplaces. Get the book here.