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1st Blog: The Beginning of a Continuing Conversation

  • June 29, 2009

I remember the first time I was in a roomful of smart, passionate, insightful people. It was my first year of college. School was a great environment for not only learning knowledge from others but creating knowledge through debates and discussions and challenging one another about our experiences and worldviews well into the wee hours of the morning. My intent with this blog – The Inclusion Paradox, named after my upcoming book – is really to offer the virtual equivalent of that stimulating environment, where smart, committed, and insightful people gather to debate, discuss, offer new knowledge and content, and provide insights on diversity inclusion and its relevance to our personal lives, the communities we live in, and the companies we work for.

The Inclusion Paradox blog is intended to explore in greater depth the concepts I introduce in my book plus others that ended up on the cutting room floor. Given the limitations of word counts, book binding, and attention spans, a book can only contain so much. When it comes to diversity and inclusion topics the list is as long as it is intriguing and urgent.

Hence the blog. So, twice a week, I will either be introducing one of the topics in the book, interviewing a thought leader in the field, telling the story example of the Inclusion Paradox come-to-life, or commenting on a current diversity & inclusion headline.  And each time inviting you to co-create new insights in response. And from insights let’s uncover wisdom.

My desire here is to start a conversation that is already ongoing. Like the 100-year-old yeast culture that gets passed on to be the starter for a new loaf of bread every day that people can break together, the Inclusion Paradox blog is using the starter of a  “culture” of ideas that has been fermenting and given rise to new thinking as people get together in conferences, workshops, and other gatherings.

With this in mind, I invite all of you to post your comments and stories on the issues and topics I surface so we can keep the conversation going and rising, and in the process learn from each other.

In addition to a place for knowledge creation I also intend for the blog to be a hub of diversity resources.  The Public Square link above, sparsely populated now, will be a place to find out about corporate diversity and inclusion events going on and a list of other books and resources aimed at sharing and creating new knowledge, practices, and tools. Send along links to things others should know about.

Let’s start! Today’s Discussion Question: The default response in a time of economic shortages is to hunker down and gear up for budget cuts and programs being killed. But let’s flip this around and discuss:

What are the opportunities for advancing the work of diversity and inclusion work you see as a result of the economic crisis? Share your story. ■

  1. Reply

    Let me echo other readers thanking you for your inclusion insights.

    For so many the uncertainty we have experienced over the last year has bred increased corporate risk aversion. Each change feels like new risk. I think in many ways encountering and understanding those who resist change present us with the greatest opportunity.

    D&I professionals are consistently looking for ways to highlight the value of new thinking and the value of diverse ideas. This economic climate will be more demanding of this skill than ever. What I have started to see is that the audience for the message is shifting …and that is positive. Corporate managers have new responsibilities. Some tied to short term goals and some tied to the sustainability of the corporation. D&I professionals are delivering their messages to different audiences after years of honing their skills. With a strong understanding of the increased risk aversion, we can add one more pillar holding up the value of D&I strategies.

    Looking forward to your thoughts as well Andres.

    Gloria

    • Reply

      The current crisis, and its legacy, means that businesses are going to be demanding greater due diligence, more refined arguments, deeper ROI analysis from all parties asking for money and resources. D&I practitioners will have to become highly adept at this. Not only on its own merits but in order to overcome an even higher bar that is set for work that still has many resistors.

  2. Reply

    The brightest minds of our age have indicated that this is not simply a predicted downturn in the business cycle, but rather a fundamental shift the magnitude of the industrial revolution.

    To navigate the challenges that lie ahead, we need all parties collaborating and fully engaged on the same end goal. Since diversity breeds innovation, this is the ideal moment in time for advancing diversity and inclusion for it is only when all our differences come together that the best solutions are created.

    Sara Meyer Davis
    Managing Partner, Strategic Diversity Advisors

  3. Reply

    Andres,

    The pat response of corporations during an economic crisis is to constrict and cut budgets while often cutting back on headcount. Often this impacts DandI adversely. One positive opportunity that is often needed and missed is to actively and creatively let all high potential and high performing diverse executives know that they are valued and appreciated! They truly are an integral part of an organization’s most valuable resource.

    I am blessed to be a part of an organization that assists companies in demonstrating their appreciation of their top diverse talent everyday–especially now. In tough times, retention is the watchword. All of the best on your new book.

    Bob

  4. Reply

    As a consultant and a change agent I find the question you ask very powerful and, if one chooses, a “game-changer.” If we did not get that life was changing in 2002 during our last recession, I do have hope we will this time. This means that there is a strong likelihood that the majority of leaders in the business world today will take the technology tools never available to the degree they are today and use them to create more independent careers–careers that allow them more thought leadership, more strength in numbers, more ability to lead in unique and powerful ways.

    To this end, tools like LinkedIn, for example, can help grow the platforms of change agents, uniting their voices and choices to include and leverage a diverse and powerful assemblage of unique talent that can achieve results much better and faster than ever before. I believe smaller companies that get this unique time will rise up and grow alliance networks (something we have spent the last year working on) and other unique, diverse networks. Here, the axiom, “necessity is the mother of invention” really plays out.

  5. Reply

    The economic crisis is a real problem. I believe in the power of collective intelligence to solve a problem of this magnitude. The most meaningful and sustainable solutions are designed and implemented by teams of people who see the problem from many different viewpoints, with differing opinions, experiences and backgrounds. The challenge we face is giving all people access, exposure and influence so all can particpate.

    • Lance Perry
    • July 9, 2009
    Reply

    First let me thank you for your insights on diversity. Andres, I find them to be the most spot on I’ve seen anywhere. I’ll be brief tonight. I have worked for three brilliant leaders in the last fifteen years. First a brilliant primarily left brain thinking male. Then a brilliant primarily right brain thinking male. Now I work for a brilliant female who uses both sides of her brain equally well!

    One other point. I’ve been involved with diversity in the workplace for most of my 30 year career in IT. Early I thought , “treat everyone the same, that’s treating folks equally”. My wife helped teach me that most folks are pretty different and you have to understand that and think about it. I look forward to continued dialog and the release of your book.

    Cheers,

    Lance

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