I have never thought about myself as a CEO-type. Self-reflectively, I would like to say that is because I am not a psychopath / sociopath. [1% of humanity is born a genetic psychopath; 20% of corporate CEOs appear to be genetic psychopaths.]
It is probably more to do with lack of talent on my part; but now, I AM NOT SO SURE. Maybe greatness is to be bestowed on me. What makes me think such (*cough* sociopathic *cough*) thoughts? Well, my name is Jon(athan) – and there are more Fortune 500 CEOs named John than females CEOs combined.
Sorry to lay it down for you like this, but it seems like I just gotta show up and the job is mine. I promise, when my time comes, that I will seek to be much better than the average leader I am. And, ultimately, that should be enough.
I have now mind-wormed the idea that I could be CEO one day. You are now probably thinking, “Well, he is a white male too.” Correct! One last point of persuasion…I am also tall, just over 6 feet tall, well over average. Each inch is worth $780 earnings a year. WHAT MORE DO YOU NEED?!
Now I have earned your trust, now that I know you would vote for me for President, I have for you a TEACHABLE MOMENT. I hope you are sitting down.
In my work, I have been noodling around the topic of diversity with the central question of how we can activate more of the talent in our communities.
Here is something I have had to grapple with. I think I am through the other side of it now, but I’m not sure, so I will use caps lock here to show I am speaking loudly to myself:
- THERE IS NO “DIVERSITY HIRING.”
- NO-ONE WITH AN UNDER-REPRESENTED GENDER, RACE, IDENTITY, OR PHILOSOPHY IS A “DIVERSITY HIRE.”
- THERE ARE NO “DIVERSITY CANDIDATES.”
Because if we see diversity as ‘other’, then we also have to see “us” as something too – and it is homogeneity. We are the Johns; or the Mikes (see tweet below).
Let’s try this out:
“Do we have a diversity candidate?”
<sub-text: do we have someone to put forward who is preventing a talented homogeneous candidate from succeeding?>
Change that to:
“Are all the interviewees homogeneous candidates?”
<sub-text: are we ok with the status quo of people we rely on to drive the business forward?>
As an homogeneous employee, that cuts closer to the quick.
If you find yourself saying “I support diversity, but…<insert well-meaning feeling / fear about the homogeneous losing out>”, would you also feel comfortable saying the opposite perspective, “I prefer homogeneity in the make-up of this team / project”? It’s much more challenging to frame it that way.
So, what are we do?
Disappointingly, now you have made it all the way to the bottom of the post, I don’t have an epiphany for you. Diversity – of thought, experience, community – is a good thing. We need more representative candidates, hires, colleagues – of that diversity.
The homogeneous of us need to learn more about diversity, inclusion, and belonging (DIBs). We are good people, wanting to do the right thing. We just need to work harder at something we have never had to work hard at before. I have been able to coast my whole life (aka social loafing). Now it is time give back a bit. This is the work, my friends.
This year, I am going to develop new habits and exhibit new behaviours around these topics. I invite you to join me in learning new perspectives and skills. It is not difficult. It just takes some commitment – to our diverse community.
Happy International Women’s Day! #ChooseToChallenge
This Much We Know.
No offence to any other Johns, or Mikes!