Sunday’s Oscars broadcast puts a global spotlight on a two-part challenge that troubles many industries: 1) few key roles go to people of diverse backgrounds; and 2) extensive talk has done little to change that reality. As CEO of a firm that helps companies attract and retain great talent for our clients, I’d love to see the event energize leaders across many sectors to look for better ways to walk their talk on diversity.
As CEO of a firm that helps companies attract and retain great talent for our clients, I’d love to see the event energize leaders across many sectors to look for better ways to walk their talk on diversity.
Here are some ideas for making diversity a reality:
- Make the effort to find talented people from various diverse backgrounds. As Steven Spielberg put it, “we all have to be more proactive in getting out there and just seeking talent.” For companies, that means a willingness to hire people who may not check off every skills box but who are the best all-around athletes in an environment that values diversity.
- Increase leadership diversity. When studio executive ranks lack diversity, so do studio films, as the Los Angeles Times has noted. It would be nice to see a variety of great diverse leaders make up the NJBIZ Power 100 list of New Jersey’s most influential people in business, but that is not the case. And when new employees see an all-white-male management team, they view their long-term prospects accordingly.
- Examine the workplace environment. Many companies establish Employee Resource Groups, hire some individuals from different backgrounds and then expect to see the benefits of diversity without considering their workplace environment. They need to focus on the key question: what can be done to embrace inclusion more fully so that everyone has a seat at the table? Often simple steps can help, such as adding geographic locations, looking for satellite offices, or building virtual working relationships that support a community of diverse individuals.
- Give Chief Diversity Officers more credibility. Properly trained and empowered, CDOs can take a realistic inventory of current practices and help shift the focus away from narrow skill sets and toward diverse thought that may originate in a different industry, process, country or culture.
- Think beyond ethnicity. A diverse organization brings together people of many different backgrounds and perspectives, including gender, different abilities and different points of view. A team that includes various diverse individuals then supports a company’s ability to serve many different communities.
- Commit from the heart. I can’t speak to the impact of an Oscars boycott, but in business forced diversity seldom works. Diversity shaming can even backfire because it presumes a lack of good intentions, and in my experience that’s generally not the problem. Diversity requires a passionate commitment best advanced through adult discussions, careful listening and common ground.
The right approach to diversity can help organizations in any industry create better products, performances and profits. I’m pulling for Hollywood and hope that next year the Oscars will be worth watching because the films are terrific, and that the business best known for make-believe can inspire other industries to get real about diversity.
By Julie Kampf