Is your business stuck in a leadership rut? Is money walking out the door in the form of highly qualified employees due to a lack of promotion and leadership opportunities? Have you considered expanding your leadership pool through diversity and inclusion? This article is designed to stimulate your thinking as you explore ways to maximize business productivity through leadership development.
During a 1976 speech in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, former president Jimmy Carter said, “We have become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, and different dreams.” What an amazing descriptor when it comes to describing diversity. According to the Census Bureau, the United States population is becoming more multicultural and diverse.
Today, the workforce reflects a barrage of different ethnicities and cultures worldwide. With their wealth of knowledge, experience, and innovative thinking, many of these individuals have become the catalyst for growth and expansion in their respective organizations. Since many of these individuals are multilingual, they have become major contributors to their companies’ ability to reach a broader market. However, in order to preserve this level of success, effective leaders must master the art of maximizing the leadership potential of its multinational workforce. In principle, this becomes the heart of diversity.
When many leaders think about diversity, the term compliance appears at the apex of their action list. For years, diversity has been viewed as a compliance issue. For example, is my organization in compliance with various requirements stemming from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other related directives? How effective are my diversity initiatives? What metrics do I have to substantiate them? These questions and others have dominated the thinking of many business leaders who have worked diligently to ensure that the compliance aspect of the legislation was achieved in their organizations. Yet, in some instances, the people most impacted by the legislation were still under represented at some of the most senior levels in the organization.
Today, we live in a society in which diversity and inclusion across the entire spectrum of the organization matters. In order for business leaders to be effective in today’s global marketplace, they must recognize and harness the skills and talents of individuals from across the organization not just a “select chosen few.”
At the epicenter of diversity is the inherent need of individuals to have their voice heard and their talents and abilities recognized. Diversity is not just about compliance but inclusion. When it comes to leader development, everyone deserves a chance to grow and advance as a leader. Therefore, opportunities for leadership training, education, and mentorship should be distributed equally. Devising a leader development strategy to explore the abilities and skills of individuals across the organization is essential to creating a culture of inclusiveness.