Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Because Better is Better

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Because Better is Better

How does your organization approach diversity, equity, and inclusion? While many leaders believe they have taken adequate steps to correct or avoid inequalities in the workplace with policies, promotion, and training, all too often we hear about employees who experience some form of exclusion or inequity, including lack of promotion, outright harassment, and even worse. Being excluded at work is not fun. Even in times when most people are working remotely, being left out can intensify a sense of alienation, which impacts our happiness and performance. This is even more critical for small businesses: according to a 2019 survey, 52% of small businesses report labor quality as their biggest challenge. Imagine, then, the impact when co-workers and leaders ignore an ongoing problem. What if the exclusion(s) were due to your ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation? How do you address diversity, equity and inclusion problems in your organization? Social psychologist and researcher Robert Livingston, author of The Conversation: How Seeking and Speaking the Truth About Racism Can Radically Transform Individuals and Organizations, (Random House 2021) writes in the September-October 2020 issue of Harvard Business Review that the real challenge is not figuring out what to do, it’s our willingness. We’re able, but unwilling. Perhaps it’s a bit of both. Trickle-Up Diversity The concept that diversity will trickle up to the C-level suites is fundamentally flawed. According to research conducted between September and November 2019 by Mercer, Caucasians fill 64% of entry level positions and 85% of top executive positions, demonstrating a promotion and equity gap. “The representation of people of color (both men and women) decreases incrementally as career levels...
The Matter of Likeability

The Matter of Likeability

Navigating the lightning-pace of the 21st Century is not always an easy task, even with technological advances. Those who excel are skilled in decision making, forming emotional bonds, and influencing others. It often comes down to a matter of likeability. Peruse any book store and you can find a plethora of titles encouraging us to care less about what others think; to not give a !@#$. This recent trend reveals our vulnerability to conforming, people pleasing, and lacking healthy boundaries. But the truth is, likeable people cultivate skills that support, encourage, and unite others, often toward common goals. New research published in The Economic Journal finds that likeability is an influencing factor in interactions between women, as well as interactions between men and women, but not in all-male interactions. The researchers conducted experiments where participants rated the likeability of other participants, based on photographs. Likeability is more than a display of niceness, agreement, or even our looks. And, likeability can be learned, practiced, and improved. It requires great self-awareness, self-care, and people-skills. What is Likeability? Likeability is the combination of who, how and why: who we are (our personality and physical traits), how we interact with others (our social skills), and why—our motivations. Traits: a characteristic Personality/Character traits Sense of humor Open-minded Physical Traits Facial features Skills Ability to listen well Ability to express empathy Self-awareness Knowledge Attitudes Positivity Beliefs Values Behaviors Tone in communication Credibility Your credibility is a critical factor in your likeability. According to marketing expert Rohit Bhargava, author of Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior, and Inspiring Action (Wiley, 2012), “People decide who to...
Is Your Workplace Healthy?

Is Your Workplace Healthy?

Businesses face challenges from numerous angles, and leaders are tasked with understanding and addressing them. Many resources and case studies have helped leaders learn how to deal with things like competitive analysis, gaining market share, employee engagement, cost reduction, and manufacturing efficiencies. But a hidden challenge has made itself more prominent in recent years, and much of it goes unacknowledged by management: the mental illness of employees. Data continues to show that the mental health of an organization’s staff is critical in determining how well an organization functions. Weakened mental health is a silent enemy, and it takes a keen understanding of its nature, causes, and solutions to address it effectively. According to the Johns Hopkins Mental Health in the Workplace Summit, mental illness is the leading cause of disability for U.S adults under the age of 44. Many leaders unknowingly run organizations hampered by employee disability due to mental illness. Some leaders don’t see it, others don’t want to. It is a very real issue that inhibits organizations, yet many in leadership fail to address. But with the proper approach, leaders can effectively help their people recover and maintain their mental health. The Cost of Mental Illness Studies show that people are greatly affected by their work environment. Their experiences, pressures, and failures take a toll, often chipping away at their mental health. As technology accelerates the speed of commerce—and as a result, its demands and shortcomings—a greater percentage of the workforce is squeezed in the vice we call progress. It has become a chronic problem. The World Health Organization posted in a recent publication that worker mental...
Building a Strong Culture

Building a Strong Culture

Some companies prosper and draw the business world’s attention. They continuously grow, innovate and impress. In contrast, others struggle, never breaking through to reach their desired success. The latter must deal with downsizing, financial shortfalls, market-share losses and tarnished reputations. The disparities are glaring. While leaders of prosperous companies garner industry admiration, those who head besieged organizations wonder where they went wrong. They search for explanations as to why their operations haven’t fulfilled their potential. Research in social science and organizational behavior points to a critical quality, one that most directs every company’s future: culture. A strong culture consistently leads to robust performance, while a weak culture suffers ongoing failures. Leaders who discount the importance of culture are apt to bear predictable consequences. They must define, assess and strengthen their organizational culture to thrive. Culture’s Impact Culture is to an organization as personality is to a person. Personality describes how we think, act and respond to the circumstances we face. Similarly, an organization’s culture determines how people act or work, what they believe or stand for and how they respond to pressures and challenges. Every company, without exception, has a culture. Leaders unfamiliar with the concept of corporate culture or organizational behavior are out of touch with the daily workings within their walls. They fail to realize that culture drives: How well (or how poorly) teams function Whether customers’ needs are being met Whether employees’ needs are fulfilled Company health and well-being Future outlook Leadership expert John Coleman describes Six Components of a Great Corporate Culture (Harvard Business Review, May 6, 2013): A unifying vision or mission that fashions...
Optimize Your Management Team

Optimize Your Management Team

Extensive research reveals startling conditions in typical organizational settings. Gallup’s State of the American Manager Report, last updated in 2017, confirms a strong correlation between company prosperity and middle management abilities. Through the Manager Report and numerous surveys, Gallup has exposed lingering trends in employee disengagement, distrust and dissatisfaction, which directly hit the bottom line. Managers are 70% responsible for employees’ attitudes about their jobs, affecting their attendance, quality of work, willingness, loyalty and customer feedback. Gallup’s No Recovery Report found that the American GDP per capita has slowed its growth from 3% to 0.5% in the last 50 years. The growth in personal productivity has essentially stopped, even with the advent of improving technology. This puts the onus on top leadership to make sure their management structure is as effective as possible, a condition that statistics say is rare. Surveys indicate only 10% of people have a high talent to manage effectively. Unfortunately, they also show that about 82% of the management segment is chosen from outside this small window. When top leaders prioritize the quality of their management team, their organizations thrive. When they don’t, they struggle, sometimes marginally, sometimes catastrophically. Leaders enjoy the highest levels of success when they put the right people in the right roles, and train them to develop and engage their employees. Each of these steps require a thoughtful approach with diligent upkeep. Find the Best Management Candidates Leadership mindsets have changed over the last few decades. In the 2018 article, Want to Improve Productivity? Hire Better Managers, Gallup managing partner Vipula Gandhi describes the traditional leadership philosophy of control and privilege....
Balance Your Leadership Skills

Balance Your Leadership Skills

Vast amounts of information are available pertaining to the definition and components of leadership. It is a complex topic, based on the challenges of human behavior; that varying, uncontrollable and often mysterious element that makes leading far more than following guidelines. Great leaders know that there are crucial skillsets to be mastered early in their career, and others that take time and experience to enhance. Knowing just the theory isn’t enough to be successful. Leadership success relies on a blend of perspectives and skills, all aimed at bringing out the best in everyone. Leaders benefit by first acquiring a high-level understanding of what effective leadership is, and what it isn’t. There are many ideas on leading that need to be “un-learned” and replaced. The Meaning of Leadership Many people embark on the leadership path with an unfortunate mindset about leadership. Historic self-serving mindsets have contributed to the high degree of employee dissatisfaction and disengagement today. Some experts argue that this trend hasn’t changed much in several generations. A majority of leaders don’t receive leadership training, according to a recent CareerBuilder.com survey. Many years of data reveal the flaws in traditional leadership thinking. Employees have long indicated what leader character traits engage or compel, and which alienate and cause them to leave. Contrary to old-school thinking, leadership does not succeed when leaders focus on “what’s in it for me”. Leadership prospers only when it aims to benefit the organization; the people they lead. This bashes the notion that leadership is about the four Ps: Power, Prestige, Perks and Privileges. True leadership is not about titles, seniority, authority or compensation packages....