Corporate culture is one of the top talent challenges facing business leaders. Some organizations in an effort to create an ideal corporate culture, experience unintended consequences caused by hiring a homogenous group of employees. For example, Brian Scudamore, CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK, fired his entire organization in 1994 because he didn’t feel that he had the right people on board. He then implemented a “Beer and Barbeque Test” to hire new employees. He invited candidates to a barbeque so that he could talk casually with them over a beer. His intention was to find ambitious and driven individuals who mirrored his values. The challenge is that this approach to recruitment creates a ‘similar-to-me’ hiring bias. Did he invite individuals who were completely different than him? Did he spend time working to understand the viewpoints of the candidates who challenged his ideas and thinking? I don’t know the answers to these questions. I do know that it concerns me that other organizations will see this approach as a great recruitment model. This approach can lead to a corporate culture where everyone gets along but there is limited innovation and creativity. Diversity and inclusion efforts within organizations must be intentional or they will be impacted by unconscious biases.
“One of the greatest challenges facing our nation and our institutions is the increasing diversity of our society.” (Sue, Bingham, Porche-Burke & Vasquez, 1999, p. 1062). The workplace is much more complex today than it was five years ago due to globalization, cross-cultural teams, multiple languages, changing demographics and persistent forms of subtle discrimination (micro aggressions). “To choose not to engage in dialogue about diversity in almost any modern organization is just plain dumb.” (Davidson & Ferdman, 2001, p. 36) However, even in the best intentioned learning organizations, led by competent leaders, many diversity initiatives fail to have sustained results. Why? The most common reasons include:
- Absence of a diversity/multicultural OD framework
- Lack of integrative practices
- Lack of skill and self-awareness by OD practitioners
- Lack of awareness, competency and attitude to confront systems of power and privilege (Rasmussen, 2006; Romney, 2008; Rowe 1990).
- Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 3(2), 153-163. Sue, D.W., Bingham, R., Porche-Burke, L., & Vasquez, M. (1999).
- Strategies for Managing Human Resource Diversity: From Resistance to Learning, Academy of Management Executive, 13, p. 69. Davidson, M.N. & Ferdman, B.M. (2001).
Enact Leadership is proud to be a women-owned consulting business. We pride ourselves on hiring the most talented individuals, seeking to leverage differences of race, sexual orientation, religion, age, gender, disability status and other dimensions of diversity. We understand that a truly inclusive culture demands self-awareness, humility, curiosity and openness, and we work hard to bring those values to life every day in service of a better world. Thank you to all women who have worked hard for diversity, equity and inclusion and the men who have supported their efforts along the way.