Many committed-to-diversity organizations have invested significant time and money into attracting, recruiting, and expanding pipelines to increase the racial and gender diversity of their workforce. While these efforts might prove useful, it is important that organizations seriously grapple with these four critical questions.
1) Do your strategies for increasing diversity anticipate the capacity of the organization to maintain all of the diversity when it arrives? More specifically, when populations that have traditionally not been a part of your halls, cubicles, conference rooms, decision-making tables, and podiums arrive, are you prepared to hear their varied voices, offer equal pay, permit equal promotion opportunities, accept their differences without expectation of assimilation, share power, and follow their leadership?
2) Has your organization charted the systemic barriers that exist, however invisible or unintended, in-house? Many organizations hypothesize that the two main reasons they have little racial and gender diversity are 1) lack of opportunity and 2) lack of skill. These explanations share one characteristic. They appear external to the purview of the organization. These two hypotheses do not consider systemic barriers that exist in-house, however invisible or unintended. Social science denotes common systemic barriers to equality that occur in-house not accounted for here: bias in hiring (e.g.. discrimination based on names), differential access to knowledge of available positions (e.g. good ole boy networks), un-empirical notions of "qualified candidates" largely influenced by stereotypes of intellectual inferiority, and arguable selection criteria (i.e. construct validity - whether a variable measures what it purports to; e.g. whether SAT/GRE/GPA actually measure intelligence).
3) If your organization has an awareness of the prevailing systemic barriers that hinder diversity, are you effectively transforming them to minimize preventable challenges in the mid- and long-term? Companies that over-emphasize recruitment of diverse populations without transforming in-house systems face preventable challenges in the mid- and long-term. For instance, some will find that while they are able to recruit diverse talent, they are unable to retain it. They may find themselves facing high-performance attrition, formalizing an unintended talent drain. Additionally, some may find that though they have recruited diverse talent to better achieve their company mission, that diverse talent rarely impacts their bottom line because it gets marginalized outside of core operations and gridlocked in subordinate positions.
4) What is the health of your racial climate? What are your gender norms? And, how do you anticipate the racial and gender status quo will shift when dynamics emerge between incumbent employees (i.e. white, male, middle-to-high income background, heterosexual, able-bodied, etc.) and a critical mass (rather than tokenized few) of new, nontraditional employees (i.e. multi-racial, nonwhite, women, people with low-income backgrounds, LGBTQIA, etc.)? Once an organization begins to better live up to its equity and inclusion values, a shedding of old beliefs, actions, routines, and traditions must occur. This change often engenders disequilibrium that is challenging yet necessary for creating a new status quo.
To address questions two and three Racial Equitecture offers a service called Racial Status Quo Mapping. When an organization seeks to understand the underlying (inter)actions that inform their diversity analytics or lack thereof, Racial Equitecture uses the kinesiology of race framework to chart the status quo - existing and often invisible structures, systems, routines and interactions that frequently engender inequality. Racial Status Quo Mapping builds upon internal expertise, offering empirically grounded recommendations that extend the existing scope of knowledge and interrogate taken-for-granted assumptions. It is hoped that once organizations have an awareness of site-specific, concrete, systemic practices and questioned taken-for-granted assumptions, they can shift them, and potentially decrease the degree of inequality produced in-house, in plain sight. See examples of Racial Status Quo Mapping.
To address questions one and four Racial Equitecture is offering a 5-session seminar (6/17, 6/24, 7/1, 7/8, 7/15, 6:15-8:15pm at Impact Hub Oakland) on how to create a healthy racial climate and how to navigate a toxic one. See more information here.
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