Dr. Janet Reid is the founder of BRBS World, a private global management consulting consortium located in Cincinnati, that works with companies to develop and retain world-class leaders who value diversity and inclusion. Dr. Reid is an author and consultant with 35 years of promoting diversity and inclusion, and today, she and Mike talk about how you can be a better leader by embracing both.
- Everyone has a definition of diversity and inclusion, but are their definitions accurate? As one of the foremost minds on the subject, Janet shares what diversity and inclusion mean to her. Diversity refers to all the way people are both different and the same. This can span race and gender to thinking style differences and problem-solving. If diversity is the noun, then the verb paired with it is inclusion. It’s how you leverage those differences and similarities to benefit a business, community, or organization.
- Talent optimization is something every business owner wants. According to Janet, diversity and inclusion are key to optimizing talent, and she explains why beginning with what the talent pool looks like in the US and abroad. In the past, employees tried to ‘fit in.’ But that isn’t working, and she shares why.
- In many organizations, diversity and inclusion are just buzzwords that people like to repeat but don’t really understand. According to Janet, being truly invested in those standards will give you a leg up on your competition in attracting and keeping talent. Not because you’re improving your bottom line, but because you’re improving everything for everyone. Janet cites an article, Diversity Matters, wherein they show measurable difference between companies who embraced diversity and those who didn’t. Janet also points out that this is only true if you have the verb, inclusion, with the noun, diversity.
- Diversity first popped up on the corporate radar some time ago, and since then, the conversation has changed. Janet recalls how Affirmative Action over 50 years ago was the beginning, but many people still see diversity as that. The evolution of diversity has seen everyone included in the conversation: white, black, male, female, country of origin, faith, backgrounds. No one is left out. Equally as important, diversity also now requires action. A big part of that action is to teach our brains to be comfortable with differences rather than view them suspiciously.
- How are you supposed to rewire your brain? Fortunately, Janet has a new book coming out that will help you do just that. Janet explains the difference between outright prejudice and the more subtle bias, and what it means in the workplace. As a leader, it is imperative that you spend time developing yourself to not just see the importance of diversity, but also to take action to make inclusion a part of what you do daily. To begin, you must strive to be uncomfortable.
- There are some steps you can take immediately to help condition yourself to be more inclusive and it begins with a self-inventory. Who do you most often have in your home? How do you spend your spare time? What do your children’s friends look like? In whom are you most likely to recognize brilliance? Going deeper, if you were to look at the C Suite, only 5% have female CEOs. And most of the C Suite are also male. Janet points to this as a fact of conditioning: you see brilliance more easily when it looks like you, so if you’re going to embrace diversity and inclusion, you need to open your eyes to reality. You can take the assessment that Harvard created. It’s a great place to start and share what you learned with #TalentMagnet.
- If you pay a lot of attention to the media, they seem to only talk about disconnect and discontent. However, if you take a look at the world around you, with your own eyes, you’ll see there are a lot of people who are working very hard to embrace diversity with inclusion. Are you one of them? Janet shares a few more key thoughts you should hold tightly and consider as you go about your life, whether at home, at work, or in the community.
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Dr. Janet Reid
The Phoenix Principles – Leveraging Inclusion to Transform Your Company – Co-authored by Janet B. Reid, Ph.D., CEO of BRBS World Consulting, LLC and Vincent R. Brown is President and CEO of V. Randolph Brown Consulting