Last week, we had the pleasure of running a workshop on Diversity, which had been a long time in the making. This workshop was inspiring in so many ways. I am writing this blog, so this event is not the conclusion of the effort but the start of a movement: Welcome to #Diversity4Digital.
Before saying much more, I would like to thank the many people that made this possible:
My co-facilitator, Nairy McMahon,
The Spirit certification cohort for ORSC (Organisation and System Relationship Coaching) who played their part to inspire it,
Our speakers, Nana Parry, Jennifer Riggins, Barry Chandler and other visitors who were ready to speak, Jonathan Hassell and Sally Bean,
Moo in London and Claire Donald, who kindly offered their space and their own time to host us,
Our fantastic participants who brought their whole selves to this workshop and made it a very authentic experience.
Diversity is about connections, exploring the wealth of our differences, and how it can stimulate the emergence of something novel. We checked all those boxes, thank you!
The workshop started with some very inspiring talks.
Nana told us how a story of prejudice resulted in an incredible turn, allowing Nana to start his business. Nana now enjoys the most diverse team, without even trying. Curiosity has driven Nana to explore and build a diverse network, which naturally resulted in the people Nana hired.
Jen shared the difficulties of women in education, work, and life in general. Many thoughts that made a few of us feel uncomfortable and ashamed as men. We have to do something, starting with standing up for respectful relationships.
Barry reminded us that Diversity is not just about ethnicity or gender, and Jonathan was ready to tell us about accessibility too. Medical conditions, life events, age, religion, disabilities, sexual orientations, etc. are all part of Diversity. Every one of us is very diverse.
Extraordinary things can happen when different backgrounds and minds come together.
Unfortunately, many enterprises have adopted a rigid approach to Diversity. And even if placing any attention to Diversity should be applauded, we should appreciate that unskilful attention results in unintended consequences. Diversity from ratios of gender mix, for instance, is a Diversity that is forced. It is not generative. It often reinforces the prejudice of the ones we are aiming to help too. Managers end up perceiving Diversity targets as an additional constraint on running the business. At best, we end up with a “lip-service” set of initiatives.
Diversity should be nothing like a constraint. Diversity is generative when done well. Generative teams support innovation and innovation generates Digital success. Diversity is becoming a strategic advantage in Digital. Like Nana pointed out, the right Diversity happens when we are not even trying. How? By opening up to the ecosystem, by supporting the engagement with the community of the Enterprises and the Leaders of those Enterprises. By building connections and inviting a diverse network through genuine curiosity. By opening up conversations and exploring how generative we can be as diverse teams.
We need fewer ratios and more conversations. It is the message that this workshop aimed to carry, with a clear intention of promoting small actions that can make a difference, one step at a time. One manager told me that he briefed his recruitment team the next day. In a bank, we have reconsidered the job specs to make them more appealing and inclusive to diverse backgrounds, promoting attitude and mindset over skills.
We would love to hear what are the steps you took yourselves, even if you did not make it to the first workshop. To this purpose, we have convened an online workshop on 11th of February — please register at : https://www.meetup.com/DigitalLeadership/events/267993771/
— to discuss your ideas and initiatives.
As an extra incentive, Aginext and Henko will be offering no less than three free tickets to the Aginext Conference in March in support of Diversity:
One, in a draw,
Two, for the best ideas, shared on the call and as voted by you.
Please tell us what you did.
If you would like to include this workshop in other meetups or conferences, please let us know, and we would help you.
If you would like to run such systemic workshops in your Enterprise, please get in touch as well. We can offer such a service. Remember, this is the start of a movement. We welcome you to it.
#Diversity4Digital starts with conversations, let’s make those happen!
Please support the businesses that support this community:
Please register for the follow-up online meetup facilitated by Jennifer and I, to discuss the small steps that people took to make a difference with Diversity: https://www.meetup.com/DigitalLeadership/events/266005018/
Aginext happening 19th & 20th of March. Please register at: https://www.aginext.io/events/aginext-2020-agile-conference/ — You can get 15% off with code DLEAD_15
Nairy McMahon runs CRR UK and offers training courses to ORSC, the systemic coaching framework that was used during the workshop. Please see: https://crruk.com/
Barry Chandler runs another meetup called SEAM and the SEACON conference. Please see: https://www.meetup.com/Study-Of-Enterprise-Agility-Meetup/
Jonathan Hassel runs an organisation focusing on helping with accessibility. Please see: https://www.hassellinclusion.com.