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Demand Diversity

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Categories: culture, people, team

Does your organization practice diversity? I’m not talking about a Human Resources handbook that covers equal opportunity hiring and anti-discrimination policies—every organization checks those legal boxes. I’m talking about embracing diversity. I’m talking about demanding true diversity.

The latest Pulse of the Profession In-Depth Report from Project Management Institute—A Case for Diversity—is a timely one. It shows the value and benefits of inclusive project teams, shows where companies are currently in their attitudes versus actions, and offers a blueprint for making diversity a reality. All project professionals should read it, and make sure their executive leaders find a copy in their in-boxes as well.

Most project leaders already recognize that culturally diverse and gender diverse teams increase project value—88 percent, according the report. They know a “mix of mindsets” leads to fresh approaches, faster problem-solving and far better solutions.

“Being able to draw from a spectrum of backgrounds and experiences”—be it race, age, gender, sexual orientation, culture or nationality—“fuels innovation, unleashing perspectives that might otherwise go unconsidered,” the report states.

But knowing and doing are two very different things. Large gaps exist between what organizations proclaim and what they have actually achieved. Only 33 percent of respondents say their organization has a culturally diverse senior leadership team, and nearly 60 percent say there isn’t a single female in their C-suite.

Cross-cultural awareness and communication are also lagging. Half of respondents say their organization is below average at educating teams on cultural norms and practices to improve collaboration with global stakeholders. And just 18 percent say their organization offers a formal mentorship program to develop project leaders.

Diversity requires action. To build inclusive, future-ready project teams, organizations need executive sponsors such as chief diversity officers to lead the charge and make sure the message of inclusion is heard at every layer of the org chart, the report states. “Companies can also boost diversity with distributed teams, drawing in talent from different locations—with different voices and different ways of working.”

Networking groups, mentorship programs and focused recruiting efforts are all fundamental to developing diversity in the workplace.

The diversity dividend—the ROI in inclusion—is real. The report finds that clients want to see themselves reflected in the project teams they call on to execute their strategic goals, and that Gen Z's best and brightest want to work for companies that demonstrate a commitment to diversity.

A Case for Diversity concludes with three principles that organizations should focus on to make diversity a reality:

> Walk the Walk: The desire for diversity and inclusion is clear—but ambitions must be backed by actions. To achieve real outcomes, organizations need a strategic plan.

> Reexamine Assumptions: The post-COVID-19 reality is revealing new ways of looking at inclusion. By tapping into technology and rethinking the old office requirements to allow for more distributed teams, companies can reach valuable new talent pools and ensure diversity.

> Reflect Your Audience: There’s value in visibility. To attract and retain employees, clients and business partners, organizations must assemble teams that truly reflect their diverse audiences. With the right mix of perspectives, companies can better understand—and deliver on—what end-users really want out of a project.

Future-ready project teams will be diverse teams. Demand nothing less.

Download A Case for Diversity here.


Posted on: June 11, 2020 03:46 PM | Permalink

Comments (12)

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I believe our organisation does walk the walk. Our CEO is female, the rest of the C-suite comprises 5 females and 4 males. Culturally the C-suite is not diverse but as an organisation below the C-suite we have staff at senior levels and below from every continent. I believe our recruiting process and organisational culture is very "blind" to anything except ability to undertake the job at hand. It would be interesting to track our trajectory over the last 20 years. I think it would show a huge (positive) shift across all areas of inclusiveness.

Very interesting and informative. Thanks for sharing.

Precisely, Aaron Smith. Well said. Appreciate the dialogue with you too.

Great post Aaron. Diversity is a business imperative. I'm delighted that we are at a tipping point.

Very interesting., thanks for sharing

It's a very pertinent subject with interesting considerations.

But I wonder does this Social Network practice diversity, remember that your audience is the world and there are manifest cultural differences between diverse geographical regions.

Diversity is a broad concept is not only about race, age, gender, sexual orientation, culture or nationality, but also about unknown or reputed persons, titles or certifications versus experience or lack of them, fair distribution of opportunities or lobby's and networking etc. all this factors have a great influence in the diversity.

Alexandre Costa

Diversity must be considered in every organization, integrating diverse cultural teams, with a mix of ages, genders, nationalities, but also with persons with special capacities. Forming a cohesive diverse team is a goal a project manager must achieve to ensure success.

Thanks for sharing. I think there is such an important difference between having diversity and demanding diversity. People should be able to be their fully "diverse" self in the workplace, meaning their culture and differences should be welcome. Being "blind" to diversity suggests that those differences among people do not matter.

Being diverse is really about inclusion. The common analogy is that diversity can be considered as inviting diverse people to a party. But being truly inclusive (demanding diversity) means inviting those people to the dance floor when at the party, playing their music, allowing them to co-host.

That representation on ALL levels of the organization is imperative. We should no longer accept homogeneous C-suites and boards.

Thanks for sharing - There is a huge difference between demand diversity and demand inclusion. Being blind to inclusion issues is also something to think about.

Thanks for sharing.Very interesting article for practical application

Thanks for sharing, great subject to be share.

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