DIFFERENCES MAKE OUR COLLECTIVE WHOLE
Recently I served on an expert panel at the Georgia World Congress Center for the Technology Association of Georgia. It was a great honor and I was among a panel of fabulous professionals representing human resource management and talent recruitment. The moderator asked meaningful questions, and the audience was engaged in the subject matter.
Entitled, “From the Great Resignation to the Great Retention,” we each shared tips, tools and insights about how to navigate the new challenge of a fluid workforce that seems to be moving around at the speed of light.
Toward the end, the moderator asked me a question that was unexpected. As a panel, we had prepared the questions ahead of time, but this one she admitted asking me spontaneously. And while I like to think my brain is quick-witted, it’s not so agile at gathering and expressing thoughts that convey the depths of my heart.
As a result, the answer to my question was inadequate. No one called me out on it, but it has been bothering me every day since then. Today I’d like to more thoughtfully share my heartfelt answer to her incredibly important question about where DE&I fits into this larger conversation about retaining today’s workforce.
Here’s what I’d really like to say . . .
Today’s DE&I efforts are crucial to the well-being of our workforce and our society as a whole.
I failed to say this as simply as I feel it. Granted, I don’t always agree with how companies are handing their DE&I initiatives, but I do want to believe that the intentions are pure. I think it would surprise a lot of people to know that there are leaders who have already been mastering this effort for a long time. These are the folks that we can’t afford to demotivate by forcing new corporate standards onto a beautiful and productive team dynamic that they worked hard to create. As we all know, there are times when well-intentioned corporate endeavors create unintended consequences.
Nevertheless, there aren’t enough of these forward-thinking leaders nor is there a large enough pipeline for tomorrow’s leaders, which is why today’s DE&I movement is so important.
What I did say somewhat adequately in my answer is that it is imperative that each company assess whether or not it has all perspectives represented – from entry level to leadership. If not, then it’s time to map out plans and take action to fill those gaps. I stressed the important connection between the representation of diverse perspectives and the company’s customer base.
How can a company truly serve a market that is far more diverse than the group of people who are creating the products and services to serve them?
It doesn’t even make sense, which is why I answered the way I did. It simply wasn’t enough of an answer.
Since I was already paranoid about being verbose in my previous comments – particularly because we were already pressed for time – I fumbled to state my passionate support for widening the workforce net to include all walks of life who are ready, willing and able to answer the call to help fill so many open positions.
We as humans are uniquely created. We each come in a different package of varying sizes, shapes, colors and functionality, and each of us has an important voice and perspective. Together we are stunning and whole. It’s like we are a living, breathing quilt that pulls together countless designs to make one big fabulous outcome of comfort, security, beauty – and strength.
We will always be stronger together than on our own.
Like quilt making, it takes time to gather all the designs, or perspectives in this case. It takes tenacity to learn the skills necessary to bring them together. And it takes commitment, determination and collaboration to try to create the best teams we can for the purposes they are intended to serve.
You see where I’m going with this? Your team is your quilt. Whether that team is small, but mighty or it is the entire employee base of your company, it is yours to create. Some can come together quickly. Others will take time to develop.
Instead of reacting to the massive amount of opinions about diversity and retention, create the vision for what you want the end result of your team to be. Then little by little, take the necessary steps to find the skills, talents and perspectives that will ultimately make your masterpiece complete.
You matter. Your work matters. Your team members want to know their work matters too. Choose them well. Engage them meaningfully. And watch your vision come to life.
Our workforce and world will be better for it. And who doesn’t want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves?
If you don’t know where or how to start, let me know. There are great organizations out there that are already designed to help you see this through. And I love making meaningful connections.
Here’s to intentional quilt making – cheers!