Note to readers: We occasionally feature guest bloggers who we rely on to inform and inspire us. AndrésTapia is no exception. As he observes, to achieve true diversity and inclusion, we need to stop minimizing differences and start calling our our differences constructively. According to Andrés, "Calling out our differences unleashes the true creative contributions of diverse perspectives that play off each other and lead to better work relationships, greater innovation, and profitability that benefit individuals, teams, and organizations" That is the heart of "The Inclusion Paradox." He relentlessly poses brilliant questions for us to ponder and unpack. His chapter entitled, "How My Gay Friends Upended My Understanding About Most Everything" is filled with humor and tells a powerful story of transformation. We thank Andrés for his willingness to share an short excerpt from his new book. Enjoy! Howard
The world is not flat — it’s upside-down.
An African American is president of the United States. Financial behemoths on Wall Street and in The City have become the incredibly shrinking investment banks. Dubai is the capital of innovation. Minorities are the majority in many places. Economic instability rocks the most advanced economies. In a high-tech world, to be young is to be more experienced. By the beginning of 2009, $2 trillion in oil monies alone will have transferred from the financial capitals of Wall Street in New York and The City in London to the capitals of oil-producing nations such as Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Russia, and others.1 Racial/ethnic minorities, 20-somethings, and women of all races tipped the U.S. presidential election toward Barack Obama making him the first African-American president in U.S. history.
When we’ve witnessed 100-year-old financial institutions disappear overnight and a new U.S. president rise with a power base in the grassroots and not in Washington, clearly an old economic and political order is being dismantled, and a new one is coming together.
In this context, we’re faced with the following pressing question: Will the work of diversity and inclusion be washed away amidst the swelling riptides of the global financial tsunami?
Present circumstances often have little impact on cultural perspective — unless there’s an effective intervention.
As chief diversity officer, I’ve wrestled with what these interventions could be. In my role, I’m responsible for identifying the various ways in which exclusion may inadvertently be taking place. There are the classic issues of representation and advancement of women and minorities, but there are other areas that get overlooked. For example, are non-majority groups equally taking advantage of the benefits available to all employees?
It turns out that in many circumstances, they are not.
Why is this happening? How can we bridge these gaps? The search for these answers has led to a rich trove of information and insight. It also led the way to some new types of solutions, including the need to communicate — or better — marketthese benefits in ways that are inclusive of the worldviews of different diverse groups. In our research, we found solutions that tapped into cultural behavioral drivers — often quite divergent from mainstream assumptions — that motivated individuals into actions that were good for them and their families. The Inclusion Paradox requires that we call out differences in doing this.
Andrés Tapiais Chief Diversity Officer and Emerging Workforce Solutions Leader at Hewitt Associates, responsible for leading the company’s internal and external diversity vision and strategies.