Diversity Anonymous

For the sake of this company, they will remain unnamed.

I attended a diversity and inclusion event for a major home grown company right here in Chicago. Although I was extremely happy that this Chicago organization decided to host an event to have an open forum regarding the lack of diversity, what I heard was very troubling. 

  • I was 1 of 3 African American women in the room (Every company has to start somewhere, some effort points will be considered in the overall rating)
  • One question from the audience went a little like this "It's our culture, we don't know where to start on diversity". Answer: Change the culture! Change the people!
  • There was a presentation on how to "sell" diversity to leadership by numbers and profits. My initial thought is " Why does diversity have to be sold to leadership?" then another thought followed.         " Why does someone have to be convinced to hire someone that is different from a them?" My final thought is " I would never want to work in an environment where leadership has to be convinced to hire from diverse backgrounds"
  • The final presentation closed out with "Diversity is being invited to the party, Inclusion is being asked to dance". I initially thought it was creative BUT I had even more questions! " Why would I want to go to that type of party? I dance when I want to, I don't wait to be asked! I always dance like no one is watching! I don't care what society thinks, I don't dance when they want me to!" 

The big questions are "Is diversity a trending topic? Is it a compliance check mark? Will this company host another diversity event 5 years from now? Or was it something 'cool and on trend' to do?"

This ladies and gentlemen is how you deter talent and destroy innovation!

Jamila Parham