There are a million ways how each of us contributes to the better world around us. One of the areas I invest my time and energy in is supporting and empowering diversity and inclusion around me. When I meet new people, or when someone asks what I am doing, I am open about my activity, as this takes many hours each month to bring visible results.
Usually, after mentioning diversity and inclusion, I am not able to continue extending my thoughts, as people start sharing their negative experiences or biases in this area immediately. Most likely the person I have met says:
Oh, not again. I am so sick of this topic.
Oh, I hate it. I know someone good was not hired, because the manager should hire a woman because of the quote
What do you miss? I think now women have equal rights. There are women working in my department. I do not see an issue.
What about men inequality?
I do not care about this.
I think my introversion, easiness on people and willingness to respect different opinions prevented me quite often to transfer similar chats into production discussions. Thus I am here, writing a reply to here.
In short, for me, diversity and inclusion are not only about hiring.
I do not know the reasons and experiences, some of you went through, to mindfully or unconsciously select limited view on this topic. Let me put some light on pain points, which I see when I look out around. I am sure I am not able to cover them all, but there are few, who are important to me.
- First of all — Biases. Everywhere. Even at work, even if were are mindful as we could. But unfortunately, without specific education, our decisions are influenced by social norms, our moods and personal preferences. Programs, combating such mindset, like 50 ways to fight Bias, are initiatives I am proud to be part of!
- Second — technology. The world is changing so fast, and I am worried that not each of us is represented properly, rightfully and according to our needs. If people from all genders, race and experiences are not creating algorithms together, who are creating them for us? Cathy O’Neil nailed this topic beautifully in her Ted talk.
- Communication. Most of the books, written about negotiation, ignores studies on how different people of another race and gender are perceived on the discussion table. Most advises I here from my colleagues or “5 tips to succeed” will not work for me or even damage my pitch. I am celebrating initiatives like Women In Negotiation, educating us in this matter.
- Finances. I do not know many women, except those who studied economics, take care of her investment and future savings independently from their partners. Women live longer, but due to lower salaries, breaks in career or even missing legal knowledge, have fewer savings for their retirement. I am happy seeing more and more voices, educating society about money, like Invest with Aysha.
- Advertising. I face a limited choice of movies if I want to see the world how women would see it, not how men imagine women would like it. Most of the marketing, advertising, gender representation in media is shaped not by us, but by our male colleagues. I was delighted to see more loud voices addressing this issue in Hollywood, and looking forward to seeing them being implemented!
- Management. I was lucky to work in companies, who hired people from multiple countries, races and even religion. I was blessed to meet so many cultures while working at Swiss banks. However, diversity was far away from inclusion. Inclusive work culture requires that specialists are listened to, invited into meetings, consulted and accepted into important projects. It is way too often see, that old management style wins, hiring best people and then ignoring them on daily basis.
- Family. In some countries, family and kids continue being the issue of a couple, not of society. Thus we still have only to dream about allowing all fathers across the world to have dedicated, paid and respected time to take parental leave.
- Health. You should be a woman to know, what the medical advice you should get a baby for these period pains to end means: you are unlucky to have an old fashioned or male doctor, on which you have relied on. Endometriosis is a real illness, and it could not be cured with babies. Listen to the real experiences here and encourage girls, who want to study medicine, go for it!
- Collaboration. I am witnessing the paradigm switch, where business is not done only by people who studied together at the same college class (so-called boys club). Business is benefiting from a diverse world. Because together we are stronger. Check initiatives like WeCoCo, uniting entrepreneurs in Switzerland.
I wish hiring would be the only one diversity challenge to be left in this world. But it is not. We are all in complex social situation and challenges, looking for ways to make life better both for ourselves and the people around us. Let us listen to each other and look for inclusive, innovative and positive solutions.