Many organizations measure diversity but ignore inclusion. That’s Christine Michel Carter’s observation in a recent Time Magazine piece.
She writes that diversity programs serve as a vital strategy for growth if companies want to market products and services to diverse generations.
However, professionals still need to work smart and be excellent, but should do so in a positive, strategic way. They need to determine who are the influencers within the company and create a strategic approach to build relationships with those individuals. They also need to show a level of enthusiasm for their work, discuss their success with the company, and be able to influence without authority. People like others who help them do what they need to do well.
How to be Included
Inclusion is difficult to quantify, she adds, and it doesn’t happen overnight. If you were to compare the 80s to now, companies are still struggling to understand what inclusion means because they still don’t understand what cultural competence is, she believes.
Organizations can stack the cards against diverse professionals due to old biases, beliefs, and attitudes. But for those who are interested in staying with their organizations, they shouldn’t “stick it out” for the sake of pride. They must champion a culture shift, asserting their choices.
From after-work dinners and happy hours to time on the golf course, the most successful way to climb up isn’t understood by these women like their white male counterparts. As double minorities, they experience the greatest challenges to socialization.
Culture-blind to Themselves
So what is a woman to do when she feels accepted by the organization? At a recent Nielsen event focused on diversity and inclusion, Stacie M. de Armas, thought leader and public affairs leader, put ownership on the organization to remove the barriers which hold back multicultural employees. “Give diverse associates access, opportunity, and visibility. Those are the things that people want when they want to grow their career.”
De Armas also added that she finds multicultural female professionals interesting. “They’ve been taught to be colorblind, but in doing so have become colorblind to themselves. They’re hiding their unique assets because they’re trying to fit in. If you are covering and its working for you, fine. But I see people not taking up enough space, which leads to people ignoring you.”
Diversity consultant and TED speaker Vernā Myers concluded, “If you’re doing all this and you’re still not getting on the dance floor, it’s acceptable to go to another party.”.
A Lack of Leadership Models
Often diverse professionals express feelings of being patronized, unaccepted and tolerated. And when an organization has a low amount of minority executives, multicultural professionals interpret it as an indicator of barriers to advancement.
Dr. Kristian Henderson tells the story of how she was told employees who work hard are just workers and don’t have the capacity for leadership. A misnomer we’ve taught many people of color is to work hard because in doing so you’ll see the fruits of your labor. In corporate America, that’s just not how it works. Hobnobbers get further than hard workers.
Karen Bond is the president of Executive Alliance, an organization geared to accelerate the success and leadership of women in Maryland. Bond also happens to be a woman of color in a state whose percentage of women directors lags behind the national average. Bond’s advice to multicultural women is to look at your network and make sure it is diverse — within and outside the organization.
Though the companies are increasing the headcount of multicultural employees, they are missing what researchers call effective diversity management or the inclusion piece. Organizations are making efforts towards diversity and inclusion in name only, it seems.