Your Fear of Diversity Doesn’t Look Good on You

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Season 3, Episode 7:

Why You Don't Need Diversity Programs

 
In episode 7, Mary Ann Lee and Andrew Porte fearlessly talk about diversity recruiting, hiring, training programs, and how external perceptions and biases directly influence diversity in the workplace.
 

Interview Highlights

Why is it important for companies to focus on diversity hiring?

"In this time, we do need diversity. We need something different. In light of everything that’s going on in our country, the killings of black men by police officers, with our president—with his rhetoric—we have to be diverse. Our country is not just one color. By having a diverse team, it brings more inclusivity. It keeps you together. It broadens the talent pool.” - Mary Ann

“It’s good for business. Let’s face it, white people are not going to be the majority. This isn’t just about color—it’s age, education. Not only does diversity hiring bring in more people, but you get different perspectives, you can tap into new markets. I can’t believe more companies aren’t getting better about it quicker.” - Andrew

How are recent instances outside of the workplace related to diverse organizations?

"Being a black woman in a white-dominated field, it does play a part. We need more color. We need more exposure. We need variety. Age, race, color, education, background, experience. That all needs to be in the workplace. It’s not just the white boy’s club anymore.” - Mary Ann

Why are so many companies getting it wrong?

“They don’t want to think outside the box. They’ve been doing it this way for so long and they just don’t want to. My name is this and you just follow what I say. That's the norm and no one challenges that thinking.” - Mary Ann

Do you think it’s because they don’t understand the advantages? Mary Ann agreed.

Why do you think people don’t understand the advantages?

“Part of it I think is fear—fear of change is difficult for people. And in light of the events Mary Ann mentioned earlier, maybe some people are afraid to bring in some of those candidates. If they’re not traditionally more diverse, they don’t necessarily know how to handle those kinds of situations. They’re not comfortable at the end of the day. In reality, they’re going to have to be.” - Andrew

What do you think about forced diversity programs?

“I wouldn’t want to work there. They’re going to look at that person under a microscope. They’re going to say, ‘oh, I told you… that’s why we don’t have these kinds of people here.’ You have to have that willingness—that openness to change. You have to be mindful and make them feel engaged.” - Mary Ann

“Forced anything can be harmful, but if you can find a way to integrate diversity and make everyone see the value and make them feel welcome… companies will naturally bring more in and balance it out.” - Andrew

Have you experienced a client asking for diverse candidates, specifically African-Americans?

“I’ve had clients say they need a woman, they need them to be young. I always ask if they really need that or if they need someone who can do the job.” - Andrew

“I was talking to a hiring manager who told me he preferred an African-American female candidate. I asked why and he said ‘because I was told to.’ I shifted the conversation toward a business case and the benefits of a diverse team. By the end of the conversation, he bought into the reason why.” - Steve (host)

What piece of advice would you give to companies regarding diversity?

“We’re people, too. We are people who bring something to the table. We are educated. We have some say and we have value. Keep your mind open.” - Mary Ann

“The more diverse companies are the most profitable. You can’t just bring anyone in. You have to look at different groups of people and look at different ideas and for new ways to get your product out there.” - Andrew

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Sam Sandler
Sam Sandler
Sam is a copywriter and strategist at Qualigence International. She enjoys exercising, eating pizza, and long walks through her Netflix queue.

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