I would like to take some liberty with a phrase that each of us has known since childhood.
For some, the basic objective of education is to teach students to be functional and competent in the 3R's, readin', 'ritin', and 'rithmetic. It's a simple message, but it helps to refocus attention from the overwhelming complexities of education by reciting this simple mantra. When we redefine these 3R's to the topic of Diversity, we will not need to add any apostrophes. The 3R's of Diversity are Recruitment, Retention and Results.
In order to communicate a methodology that puts the 3R's
of Diversity into a clear and concise flow, let's adopt the analogy of competition. It could be the athletic competition of sport, the intellectual forum of the debating team or the social dynamics of a parlor game such as Charades. You should apply whichever analogy works best for you.
THE 3 R'S OF DIVERSITY
1. MAKE THE TEAM
The obvious first step is to gain a position within the organization. Your duties and responsibilities should be defined and clearly communicated. In terms of diversity in the corporate realm, you will know what is expected of you as an individual contributor and a team member in the organization. Nothing happens until you are on the inside. This takes place in the realm of Recruitment, which we refer to as Diversity Attainment.
2. GET OFF THE BENCH
All of the analogies that were listed above are highly interactive and team-oriented. In order to contribute to the group dynamics, you must create your own dynamism. This comes about through interpersonal events. In sport, the first dynamics could take place when the team is learning the plays on the chalkboard. These will carryover to the practice sessions when the playbook is put into action. In a corporate setting, the employee gets off the bench, so to speak, when he or she begins to interact with others. This can be in any venue, i.e. Affinity Group, department, ad hoc committee or a water cooler brainstorming session.
3. GET IN THE GAME
Getting in the game means performing your assignment in team settings. Be aware of the talents and passions of those around you, as well as your own. Operate within your capabilities and maintain your focus on the goal. Work cooperatively with your teammates in the execution of the plays and be cognizant of their potential contributions, as well as your own. Based on step #2, everyone will have an expectation of each other in terms of potential contribution and possible impact.
In sport, every player on a team has different talents, motivations and aspirations. Each member also has different expectations...of themselves, of others and in combination. An individual's contributions may be on the offensive or defensive phase. Then the degree of expected contribution of each person is tempered by expectation. All players will not have contributed the same number of points, assists or steals. In fact, they will probably play for a different amount of time in the course of the game. If you show your potential, then management can determine what your contributions can be depending on the game situation and the combination of teammates that you are working with. Your contributions may be significant when playing with some teammates but be drastically lower when you are in the game with others.
5. MAKE AN IMPACT
Based on your established potential and expected contribution, you should be performing commensurate with your unique abilities and talents. It is impossible to know the degree to which you can have an impact but that will be an outgrowth of your desire and commitment to contribute. Maximize your contribution whether you are operating individually or with the team.
If you follow this simple flow in your corporate world you will be maximizing the potential of its diversity playbook. You will have operated in a way that enabled you to be on the team, utilize your unique talents and capabilities and make significant contributions. The Results should be apparent to all.
We have not seen any mention of Retention in this brief article, only Recruitment and Results, but it was not an oversight. Employee retention is a direct byproduct of the scenario that has been shown. People receive a great sense of satisfaction and professional pride when they are given the opportunity to make a difference. Team members achieve a level of pride and satisfaction when they see that their talents have been applied to practical and important assignments. This sense of accomplishment and contribution will be the most significant in determining employee retention rates.
Job satisfaction and retention (reduction in turnover rates) also have a compound benefit. Such a corporate environment begins to generate its own momentum. Relatively quickly, the company will realize that the Recruitment phase is becoming easier and producing a higher caliber of prospects. The Diversity Program has now come full circle and is producing perpetual energy and bottom line results.