|See the difference?|
All my life, I've been exposed to issues of diversity. Born in 1971, my entry into the world was precipitated by the new era of equal opportunity for all Americans. By the time I had my first job in 1993, we'd been almost 30 years into this era yet attitudes about equal opportunity were shifting. Fast forward to 2013, the second full year of my entrepreneurial venture and yet again topics of diversity, equal opportunity and inclusion hunted me down for my point of view.
Leading a strategic business venture and constantly consulting with government, nonprofit and organizations of all types and sizes, my perspective on diversity and inclusion is always a topic of discussion, even when it isn't. Instead of giving my "tried and true" diversity class taught response, this year, I started to give my true thoughts on the subject because my relationship with diversity and inclusion has been the same since I entered the workforce 20 years ago. The only difference now, is I'm in a position to spread my point of view and bring others along in a big way.
It is not rocket science or anything earth shattering yet it is both. The simplicity of my point of view is not marred by the complexity of the issue it seeks to solve. Each day I speak about and consult on the direction inclusion and diversity must go, it is clearer to me that my company and I must lead the way. This huge and daunting task does not scare me. It energizes me. My perspective on the topic is now being sought by Fortune 500 and small companies alike. The once reluctant diversity practitioner is now an inclusion strategist. My inclusion strategy work hinges on the following:
Inclusion must include everyone.
Inclusion is essentially a leadership and competency discussion.
It is that simple. Yes, there are many issues of inequality and oppression that have gotten the United States to its current state today. However, we must be able to count on every one to take us where we need to go. We do not have critical mass in leadership among minorities or women however, our current strategies to get there are not working, particularly in corporate America.
We need to lift the veil of secrecy for upward mobility in these environments. All organizations need to understand and articulate what it takes to lead. This will be different in different places, there is no "one size fits all" formula. From there, it will be necessary to make a joint effort with education officials to build a pipeline of qualified candidates to lead and cast the net out to all areas of our society to build and grow those leaders.
So now we go to work, transforming the country's attitude about this very important topic, one organization at a time. There is lots of work to be done to change our country's relationship with inclusion. I am excited that Relationships Matter Now is leading the way.