Interculturalist, LLC presents: "Who is Leading your Diversity and Inclusion?"

Interculturalist's Director of Coaching, Akiko Maeker, be presenting at the 28th Annual Forum on Workplace Inclusion. The topic of her presentation will be “Who Is Leading Your Diversity and Inclusion Initiative? Let’s Talk About the WHO of D&I Leadership.”  The Forum on Workplace Inclusion is a learning conference that inspires new ideas and change in the diversity and inclusion space and takes place March 29-31, 2016, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The presentation will focus on how Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) leadership can be better. The premise is that designing and implementing D&I initiatives is not an easy task. Sometimes even the best intentioned D&I initiative fails. D&I leaders often pose the WHAT and HOW questions, “What should we do to increase diversity?” or “How can we create a culture of inclusion?” While these are important questions, there is a critical question too often ignored: Who is leading the D&I initiative? Who is the Chief Diversity Officer? Who are the people on a D&I committee? Who are the external consultants hired to work with the committee? The answers to these questions can make or break a D&I initiative.

Akiko's current research is the basis of the topic. She is investigating how one's intercultural competence affects how they view culture, diversity, and their work. Early results show that leaders and professionals, depending on their level of intercultural competence, tend to recognize or deny, accept or reject, utilize or ignore, or maximize or minimize the diversity that exists in the workplace.

In Akiko’s session, she will discuss a framework that will help organizational leaders and D&I professionals take a fresh look at their approach to D&I leadership with learning outcomes of the session to include shifting perspectives from only focusing on the WHAT and HOW of D&I initiatives to including the WHO of D&I leadership and assessing more fully what it means to be an effective D&I leader.

Will you be attending the conference? She's looking forward to meeting some of you there!

Diversity is the End, Not the Means

The Oscars attempt at dealing with diversity, or rather the lack of racial diversity, is an effort that most organizations make. It's the structural approach - the policy approach - the numbers approach. It's unfortunate because it's not a competent approach. It's a symptom of an inability to see diversity with more complexity and sophistication.

We work with many organizations who have followed this structural numbers approach: "Let's increase diversity!" "We need more people of color!" The thinking here is that if they accomplish the numbers diversity, the organizations will be great and therefore, "inclusive". The problem here is that they are conflating the word "inclusion" with "diversity" and, in other words, mixing up the ends with the means.

Some are successful at acquiring diversity of skin color, some are not, but in either case, they quickly realize they cannot retain the diversity and let alone make it a strength.

They then decide that "diversity is dysfunctional". But we can tell you that diversity is not dysfunctional, it's the approach that's dysfunctional. Don't seek the ends before taking on the means.

Making diversity work as a strength requires addressing it from a completely different approach. Again, diversity is the end. The means is to first understand the organization's values - not the stated ones - but the hidden ones that behavior follows.

Diversity thrives only in an organization where positive affirming invisible values match up with the stated, explicit values. How do you make sure that negative hidden values are constructively addressed and transformed into positive affirming invisible ones? Our response: develop individuals', particularly leadership's, intercultural competence. This development-based approach is the effort that will result in the necessary structural change for increased diversity.

In the end, an organization's inability to create high-performing diversity comes from the lack of individuals' limited intercultural competence, particularly among leadership. Diversity has to happen as the fruit of highly developed intercultural capacity of people and the organization.