Susan E. Reed wrote The Diversity Index in 2011, which I find relevant as companies resist and other companies forge a diverse workforce. Reed’s in depth look at diversity unearth dialogue and initiatives that reaches back prior to the Civil Rights act of 1964. Reed is a for CBS News producer who has won two Emmys as a reporter and her work has appeared in the New York Times and the Washington Post among others. She offered some reflection and insight on diversity in the workplace in the last two years.
I like sharing these types of conversations because the universal workplace has become a very complex environment to people of color and to women. It helps to have varying perspectives to make informed decisions who want to work for companies that promote diversity and inclusion, but also who will be fair to all.
Mark: Since you’ve written the book two years ago are more companies proactively transforming their culture to a more diverse one?
Susan Reed: I have been pleasantly surprised to find companies that are actively trying to make their organizations more diverse. I know that because I meet diversity directors at forums where specialists are sharing best practices.
Mark: Are there recruiting efforts that matches the intent of companies that wish to change?
SR: Yes. I see recruiters looking for people everywhere: on LinkedIn, on Facebook, college campuses, and at inner city job fairs.
Mark: What are common mistakes companies make in hiring a diverse workforce?
SR: If you put one individual with very different characteristics into a homogeneous pool of workers, they will experience greater stress in trying to fit in, get along and be accepted than if you hired two or three very diverse people at once.
Mark: There is a study that came out last year that said that CEOs desired for employees to have more of a global perspective, yet many companies still are lacking in diversity. There seems to be an anomaly somewhere. Any ideas why executives fail to see the discrepancy?
SR: Everybody has a different definition of diversity. Some think only of gender diversity, others think only of racial diversity. Folks who have international experience tend to think in terms of international diversity. One can have international diversity without racial or gender diversity. For instance, nearly 10 percent of executive officers of the Fortune 100 are white men who were born outside of the U.S., exemplifying how international diversity can exist without racial or gender diversity. All of us need to think more expansively about the many aspects diversity, including ability and sexual diversity.
Mark: Companies that are diverse and make efforts to maintain a longitudinal outlook seem to also share lots of transparency. Is this an accurate assessment?
SR: Yes, I think you’re right. Many companies with a deep history in diversity will sponsor employee resource groups, and publish a general census of the diversity of their workers. They often post the information on their websites.
Mark: Should job seekers that desire to work for diverse and inclusive companies expect work related transparency as well? Are there companies that already employ this thought that you know of?
SR: In my study, I found that the government contractors who had deep history with diversity–going back to affirmative action in the 1960s– were the most experienced at creating a diverse workforce.
Mark: So a job seeker is hired by an ideal company must experience a special type of empowerment. As that a safe assessment or is that assuming too much?
SR: The new hire should assume he or she is wanted to perform the job, but I’m not sure it is reasonable to assume any special empowerment because companies are very complex organizations.