Friday Thoughts On Racism — Diversity Is The New Black

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In a few weeks, around the world we will recognise the first anniversary of the death of George Floyd, as the turning point in modern race activism and the shove that overcame the inertia of the anti-racism movement represented by #BlackLivesMatter.

Many major companies, organisations and household names changed their social media profile logos on Tuesday 2nd June 2020 to a black square, in solidarity with those who finally decided to take a stand against the continuing abuse of Black people and people of colour and systemic racism in society.

There were images of images of politicians, company CEOs and other major figures following Colin Kaepernick in “Taking A Knee”, as a visible and personal sign of solidarity.

While all of these demonstrations of support were admirable and even though it will probably be repeated again this year, I can’t help but think that many companies, organisations and individuals that raced to be the first out with their statements and demonstrations of support, have unsurprisingly gone silent. I expect that we will hear from them again in the next few weeks as we approach the anniversary. So I need to ask, were many of these really examples of virtue signalling? If so, what do they stand to gain from this?

For politicians there is an obvious advantage to be seen to be taking an opposite stance to the incumbent political party to increase their popularity with voters in a future election. But what about companies? There have been a multitude of studies that show the benefits of building a diverse workforce. The following is an example by Sheree Atcheson, diversity and inclusion leader for Consulting at Deloitte UK in her article “Diversity and Inclusion as a Competitive Advantage”:

  • By having only one woman on the board, businesses reduce the chance of bankruptcy by 20%
  • When employees find that their organization is working with diversity seriously and experiencing them, innovation revenues increase by 83%
  • The company in the top Quartito gender balance has a 15% more probability of outplaying competitors than they would otherwise.

Focus on diversity and inclusion, because it’s the right thing to do.

It is admirable of companies to focus on diversity and inclusion, but the using competitive advantage as a reason for diversity does not sit well with me. It’s just not right that if there is no economic reason or commercial advantage to be gained by diversity and inclusion then there is no justification. Companies and organisations should not do this because of the potential commercial benefit, they should focus on diversity and inclusion because it’s the right thing to do.

  • It is right to look at increasing the proportion of people from underrepresented ethnic groups in STEM industries
  • It is right to increase the number of women in leadership and senior leadership positions
  • It is right not to discriminate people with neurodiverse conditions, from LGBTQ+ communities, due to age, gender identity, physical ability or any other reason.

Consider this, if there was no commercial or economic reason to become more diverse as an organisation, why do it? Why not remain as now, a Cisgendered heterosexual white male dominated industry?

Let’s stop with the “You only got the position because you’re…”, do it because it’s right!

Do it because if you do not you are seriously reducing your available talent pool and as such you will not be giving rightly deserved opportunities to the best and brightest. Talent selection processes need to change too, we must identify talent that is not necessarily based on experience. While experience is important the focus on experience continues the bias on those that have it, rather than those whose talent would be the best fit for the position.

There must be no other reason than this.

So even though I applaud the companies and organisations in which we work, for the stand they are taking against the creeping insidiousness of systemic racism, I challenge you captains of industry and leaders of nations to search your hearts and your motives. If at the core, your diversity and inclusion initiatives are focused on the objective of exploiting competitive advantage or winning political support, PLEASE STOP! The fact that you see diversity and inclusion as an initiative is inherently wrong. It should become imbedded within fabric your organisation, not for the purpose of advantage but because being against racism and all forms of discrimination is the right thing to do; there must be no other reason than this.

So let diversity and inclusion be “the new black”; and just as black never goes out of fashion let this also become an eternally sustainable value of every organisation.

Antiracism writer. Follower of Jesus the Messiah. Life long #StarTrek fan. #TheMatrix and #Inception fanatic. 🇬🇧🇻🇨🇨🇭