Monday, December 8, 2014

Don’t Blame White Men For Lack Of Diversity in Business, in 2015

Probably best not to blame yourself or others. From my experience and observation, it seems everyone is to blame for lack of diversity in business. Many of you might think this is a divisive topic,I say this is the reality many founders and myself most grasp. And it’s an issue that’s gaining momentum. I was recently watching “Dawn of The Planet of The Apes”, great movie, and thinking of our stupid social divisions. One thing everyone should be proud of is that we are making positive progress. In the present however. It seems we are not united mentally.We are all not yet speaking the same language.

When you help advise a global, 22000+ , unconventional founders community, there’s is no room to play favorites based on skin color, gender, ethnicity, there’s only people in different packages with different agendas. And what most: Women, Men, Blacks, Hispanics, Whites, Asians, Indians, Muslims, Jews, Green Huck, etc want is fairness not bias. I say, “Critic me like you would your own”.“Support me like you would your own.” “ Love me like you would your own.” “Hate me like you would your own blood”.

According to a statement by LinkedIN’s CHRO, as a company grows a chunk of their hires, 40%-50%, come from internal staff members social circles. People they’ve known most of their lives, belong to the same institutes, social circle. People that they make contact with everyday. Basically, people like themselves get recruited, new recruits then recruit more people like themselves, until the majority of the workforce are almost exactly in character.  LinkedIn, tech companies, financial services, and other sectors have admitted they have a diversity deficiency problems.

From my experience it’s not a white male or male phenomena. Certain industries, and careers are just dominated by certain demographics whether it was intentional or not that's really not the issue.
The issue it seems to me, is that we struggle to build our social circles with people who are not exactly like us. In “Dawn of The Planet of The Apes” there was a part in the movie when, Ceaser, the head Ape declared the woods “Ape Home” and the concrete buildings “Human Home”. 

The truth about diversity in any organization is that the “majority rules” whether it’s culture, religion, ethnicity, age, sex, skin, education. In my experience and observation you can usually spot a pattern in who gets certain opportunities in those environments, who is mentored and encouraged towards certain jobs and who is systematically neglected. And a lot of times it seems if you wish to grow, you either conform to the way of the majority or don’t conform.


Knowledge is Power Suggestion: It would be very helpful for every founder to acquire “cultural-intelligence”. Understanding the priorities and challenges, rules that influences another person different from you. Socialize with people outside your similarities, outside your background, eat at ethnic restaurants you’ve never heard of.  If your community is made up of people who think and act like you, once in a while get the f#%$^ out of there. Do something unusual. Spend time outside your comfort. Make it a rule to have 30% of your friends or daily contact be with someone different from you but maybe share a passion. 

As we help continue to grow Founders Under 40™ Group, the unconventional-fastest growing founders community, we have a responsibility to be open to the world not just America. And our fellow 22000+ founders & members are well aware of the importance of diversity. You can’t build a global company in 2015 and into the future without understanding other people’s culture, economics, concerns, traditions, values, that’s likely one reason Apple bought Beats.

Failure to initiate, follow-through with educating oneself about other people different from you could result in accidents, delays, lost clients, law suits, stagnation.

In my opinion, today Founders are in a perfect position to lead change, improve the standards and uphold the values we want around the world. To help me become a better person, I and others put together some suggestions

Reason For The Issue Suggestion:There are a number of issues that go into the diversity of any corporation's workforce. From local demographics, to unintentional and intentional hiring bias, to the role of networking—especially at the executive level. Even cultural bias on education across both racial and gender lines plays a role.

Authority Suggestion: There’s no day where we don’t hear of individuals, authority figures, and institutions never abiding by fairness. For example, you can work for a company for several years and be just capable however it seems like the people who get promoted look, not just in appearance, look a lot like the supervisor, manager, or boss. Based on my experience it is not a skin or gender’s “Majority Rules”. Consciously and sub-consciously we like people who seem similar to us so we assist them or we work with them. By simply being open and none-bias can make a huge difference. See movie, “Dawn of The Planet of The Apes”

The Immigrant Among You Suggestion: Realize that some of your co-founders or employees and clients  are likely to be immigrants or from different social backgrounds from their founders and learning their cultures even if it makes you uncomfortable is to your advantage. Warren Buffect & Jay Z, Martha Stewart &Snoop Dog aka Snoop Lion are example of different worlds get together. For me personally, when I learn or walk in other people’s shoes I know I can relate to them better and through that process I find similarities. What every man and child in America want is the same as man and child in china.

Chose To Lead By Example Suggestion: You personally must make the effort, and choice to have a more representative team or workforce, immerse yourself in formal and informal training. Establish standards at your start-up, or organization on fairness conduct. The best way to see your violation at the hand of bias is to visit another community, or talk to someone who is faced with unfairness..

Employees Don’t Need Fixing Suggestion: Incremental changes that focus on altering women’s,LBGT, men and minority behavior to make them come across more appealing to the majority group is not whats’ needed either. There's just a growing need for tolerance. Your future heart surgeon might be gay does that mean you wouldn't have heart surgery by that surgeon for religious reasons? When an organization lacks diversity, it’s not the employees who need fixing. It’s the business and social systems.

Consider Early HR Suggestion: To every start-up, and growing smb company, it's seems more venture capital managers are encouraging their start-ups to get some HR infrastructure in place earlier. Instead of waiting until 40 or more employees. Many start-ups wait until they have 50 or so employees before thinking about this. Chances are you wouldn't give a co-founder agreement. 5 years into a venture? That's your in case of s#$@% insurance.

It Will Not Be Perfect Suggestion: It will not be perfect while you try to stay fair and avoid biases or reverse discrimination. It’s an hard process to practice total fairness however it’s one step towards ending inequality. I personally don't see skin color, gender, for any reason but a physical attribute. I try to assess everyone by character and whole self. Some you’ll like more than others, and that’s okay however for the greater good of a community I must try to be fair.

The Motivation of People Suggestion: Some people and potential employees are self-motivated, some people need an extra push or incentive to do their very best. So lowering universal standards just to please a group is not fair to anyone. Fairness is what we all seek. By setting lower standards for admission or hiring, we are lowering the level of accountability. We should reward hard work, discipline, and achievement; we shouldn't reward simply because he or she is a certain race, gender, sexual preference, etc. nor punish another group simply because he or she isn't. Just be fair. However more effort is needed to understand and encourage everyone to grow.

Some people can't keep up. That doesn't mean they can't improve, for a reason or multitude of reasons it isn't working. That’s okay as long as you had a fairness policy. You had the right healthy culture.

FYI, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. No one group is a superior race or superior ethnicity. Every technological advancement has come from all humans not just one group of people. Great music and bad music is made by every artist of all background.

Everyone wants ,to know their success is the result of hard work,character, fairness, abilities not preferential treatment. However no two quarterbacks are the same.

Take A Stand Suggestion: Diversity is desirable and won't always occur if left to chance. Life and business is all about interacting with the environment and learning to get along with things around you. Most times not embracing diversity is due to opinions of others and based on stereotypes. In a global village or tiny village any diversity is an advantage. Like the ability to speak multiple languages.

The more we change stereotypes, the less we'll need fairness action in the future.

A workforce that doesn’t reflect the society it serves, is an organization digging it’s own grave. It’s harder to anticipate challenges or opportunities when everyone around you thinks and acts like you.

Your company values must be universal. So jeopardizing your values so you can tell the world you have made your quota for number of women on the board objectives is not recommended.

How To Avoid Stereotypes or Avoid Hindering Growth Suggestion: Evaluate the way your organization does things. Seek opportunity to train and grow. Work collaboratively instead of divisively. Not dealing with it today, is going to cost a lot more. Know how far you are willing to go. Don’t be a part of the problem.

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