It’s Time to Change the Conversation on Equality and Diversity


While in recent decades there have been huge strides towards creating gender equality in terms of education, health and workforce participation, the gap in annual earnings between men and women has barely budged over the last two decades.  For too long the discussion on the role of women in business was seen as a philanthropic issue often with leadership development programs focused on outdated stereotypes teaching women to behave more like their male counterparts in order to succeed.

Yet businesses who embrace gender diversity are 15% more likely to outperform their peers and ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to do the same (Mckinsey 2015), and recent research shows organizations with women on the board and in senior leadership positions statistically outperform their peers over a long period of time (Catalyst 2016).  Yet a recent Catalyst study (2017) of more than 21,980 firms across 91 countries found that about 60% of organizations had no female board members, more than 50% had no female C-suite executive, and less than 5% had a female CEO.

Organizations, social norms and government policies need to have a mindset shift to providing equal access to opportunities.  It’s time to change the conversation on equality and diversity to inclusion and the creation of cultures in which female leaders can succeed.

Create a culture where everyone can thrive.  Focusing on diversity isn’t about being perfect rather about nurturing and open workplace focused on learning and supporting everyone to reach their full unrealized potential.  Champion two-way dialogues about career progression, create opportunities to learn, grow and above all else to fail as a learning opportunity.

Build an inclusive environment where individuals feel empowered to bring their whole self to work.  Encourage people to draw upon their unique experiences, perspectives and backgrounds to advance business goals.  Foster inclusion by building relationships through increased understanding and a foundation of trust.

Develop core capabilities to communicate openly and create a culture of feedback, manage conflict effectively and work collaboratively to leverage diverse skills and perspectives.

Reward value, not facetime.  Too many companies still operate with a culture that clocking up face time equals a commitment to the roleDefine what success looks like in the role and hold people accountable to that.  The more autonomy you give people the more confident they become, the more expert knowledge they gain and the more they take ownership of results.

Overcome your unconscious bias.  Realize your tendencies and natural reactions to people different from you in some way and challenge this bias by expanding your support network going to different people for advice and input on important decisions.

Take responsibility for inclusion and hold people accountable.  Diversity and inclusion should not be treated as a ‘one-off’ initiative.  Each us needs to champion and model best practice behaviours to create organizational cultures with a climate of learning, respect and mutual support.

To find out more about how we can help you create a more inclusive culture please contact Lighthouse NINE Group.

Gemma Norman
Lighthouse Nine Group
One Eva Road, Suite 209 | Etobicoke, ON M9C 4Z5
Office: 416-607-6919
Direct: 905-920-9396
Gemma Norman on LinkedIn

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