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By Craig Hiskett

I see it all of the time, companies who write down in their job adverts, managers who give feedback and write on social media; "they didn't fit in" or "it wasn't a good cultural fit". But what does that really mean and are you making that definition crystal clear?

If you scroll through open job adverts today, there will be a sea of phrases such as 'cultural fit' written down and often scored against in job interviews with feedback attached to unsuccessful candidates, it's almost too easy a way out for a lot of Companies. Without having to justify much of their scoring criteria (assuming they have some) and completely disregarding any biases they possess, it's sold to candidates as a soft way of letting them down; a way of saying they were 'ok' but just not for this Company, but somewhere else they'll do fine.

Have you ever seen a Company rigidly define what Cultural Fit really means for them?

If so, great! But many don't and I believe it's holding people back, especially those from ethnic and racial minority groups.

Consider a typical Company today, you could name almost any and from checking them out online, you'd see most of the Senior Leaders are white, middle aged men. When you have such dynamics in Companies (which is not a surprise by the way considering the history of societies in which the white men have always held the 'power') I am not surprised we don't see more talent from ethnic minorities coming through development programmes. After all, they aren't like those already in power, and if the Company is doing well, why would they need to change that?

If you add on to this seemingly smaller and trivial policies, such as dress codes that favour a white European way of dressing, it's no surprise a lot of Companies, especially at the top, fail to look any more diverse than they did 10 or 20 years ago, despite very public statements supporting Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) initiatives.

So what can be done?

Well, to start with, Companies need to align their internal operations and day to day conversations with those very public statements they make, often on social media. If you like a Company today, with a little hard work you can scroll through their historical timelines of posts and comments on social media to unearth trends in the messages their putting out on topics such as D&I. This transparency, that didn't exist previously, will mean that Companies have set out a very public stance, a stance that if it isn't backed up by not just internal policies, but internal practises, will do them harm over the long run.

A quicker approach that can make an impact is within recruitment. If Companies choose to broaden their recruiting networks they can give themselves access to new job markets and thus, new and different people than before. When, for example, predominantly white Companies hire through selected Universities (that are also predominantly white) and encourage referrals of connections of current employees, they will get people who are very similar to those they already have, surprise surprise, predominantly white.

On an individual level, you can always (and I'd recommend trying it) question yourself and your own beliefs. When you think about black people working on senior leadership teams, do you automatically think they don't have the soft skills that are nuanced enough to operate at that level? If so, ask yourself why you think that way. You might end up being surprised at how narrow your perspective truly is.

There are many things that can be done on a micro or macro level to make Companies more racially equal, here are just some pointers. One thing is for sure though, in the age of political and societal unrest, Companies will come further under the microscopes for their stance online (just look at Ben & Jerry's reacting to migrants coming to the UK....) and they will need to align those messages with their internal actions.

Craig Hiskett

*Craig offers a wide range of learning solutions focused on your tasks & problems, including helping organisations with their Diversity & Inclusion programmes to create impact.

Search 'Craig Hiskett - Learning Solutions' or contact craig@chlearningsolutions.com

By Jared Karol

So I am continually reaching out to Allies because as I have said before their voices are powerful and this fight is not Black vs White but EVERYBODY VS racism and the injustices that racism brings. Jared Karol is a force to be reckoned with and is passionate about creating inclusive cultures where everyone feels like they belong. He is an educator and helps White people become antiracist.

I recently came across a post he wrote on LinkedIn and asked him if I could use it for this blog. I want to share it with you .

It's difficult for many White folks to fight for racial justice because we have very few, if any, meaningful #relationships with people of color.

Until age 25 I knew a grand total of 8 people of color.

In fact, here they all are.

Langston: Black boy; playground friend in first grade; never invited him to my house.

Antonio: Mexican kid; co-champions of 4th grade chess competition; played chess after school sometimes.

Vanessa: Half Mexican/half Filipina girl; close friend in middle and high school.

Ryan: Japanese kid; moderately close friend in high school.

Chad and Lee: Two Black guys; played soccer together in college; occasionally had a beer after a game.

Eric: The only Black guy on the college lacrosse team; barely knew him.

Tom: Black friend of my dad's; we'd hang out when I visited San Francisco in high school.

That's it.

25 years, 8 people of color.

Only one of whom I was close with.

I suspect this is similar to many White people's childhoods.

Then we enter the real world, perpetuate self-segregation, and never seek to understand, appreciate, or validate the truths of people of color.

We show little #empathy.

We ignore, dismiss, or gaslight them when they share their lived experiences.

Then we go hang out with our White friends.

And carry on with our lives.

Diversity & Inclusion is a topic that should be deeply-seated in all of our social, political and moral agenda. So pain me as it does to discuss Diversity & Inclusion in financial terms - by now, even the heads buried deepest in the sands that oppose change, have had to acknowledge that diversity is good for business. Research has consistently shown that companies with a more diverse senior management team can expect higher returns on equity and on earnings before interest and taxes (see Barta, Kliener and Nuemann. 2008.). The explanation offered for this, almost always places the burden of new thought on those who are currently underrepresented. However, research conducted by Tufts University observed that diverse groups perform better than homogeneous groups when making decisions “due to significant changes in white behaviour. Whites on diverse juries cited more facts, made fewer mistakes in recalling facts and evidence, and pointed out missing evidence more frequently than did those on all-white juries. They were also amendable to discussing racism when in diverse groups.” (Interpersonal relations and group processes. 2006. Samuel R. Sommers). Whichever way you look at it – diversity is a good thing, assuming you are of sound mind and not a raging bigot? If that is you, you are welcome to stop reading now and continue foaming at the mouth talking about “the good old days”.

What is clear, is that whether you view it from a capitalist position or one of basic human decency, we need more PoC, more women, more neuro-diverse, more LGBTQ+ people in the boardrooms and less…. Well, less people who look like me! Now It is not my aim here to diminish this debate, this is an issue that is felt far more deeply by those who have suffered and continue to suffer from the inequalities engrained in our society, in ways I will never truly understand. My aim is to show my support for their empowerment and to highlight the reasons D&I is so important. To simplify this, I will divide the debate into two factions; a moral argument and a business case.

As stated above, the research overwhelmingly shows that diversity means more money. Yet still, in the UK ,only one CEO of a FTSE 100 company is black. Just one. This figure should ignite outrage in even the most apathetic of business leaders when we consider the McKinsey report Delivering Through DiversityTop-team ethnic and cultural diversity is correlated with profitability. In our 2017 data set, we looked at racial and cultural diversity in six countries where the definition of ethnic diversity was consistent and our data were reliable. As in 2014, we found that companies with the most ethnically diverse executive teams—not only with respect to absolute representation but also of variety or mix of ethnicities —are 33 percent more likely to outperform their peers on profitability.” Put simply, if your workforce doesn’t reflect your market, it is unlikely you will be able to anticipate and respond to the changing needs of the community you serve.

I cannot speak as anyone other than the white, cisgender, heterosexual male that I am, but I can acknowledge the comfort I feel walking into almost any business meeting or boardroom. I am rarely in a minority and rarely am I considered the other, by acknowledging this I must also acknowledge the discomfort that must be felt by those who are. If your boardroom is only a place of comfort for people who look like me, you are failing in Diversity & Inclusion and you are likely losing talent within your organisation to companies who are not.

In recent months many of us have been working from home, so I will simplify my moral argument for Diversity & Inclusion in the workplace; scroll through the playlists on your phone, look through the spices in your cupboard, look at the literature on your shelves and the films in your collections. In every aspect of our lives we expect to borrow from other cultures, to enjoy art of black origin, to taste food from eastern cultures and to read stories from the minds brilliant women. So to not afford these same people an equal voice and equal opportunity within business, is morally bankrupt, and, given the research, will likely lead to actual bankruptcy.

Theo Harris

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