By Cari M. Dominguez and Jude Sotherlund
2010, 162 pages, Paperback
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Long before there were affinity groups, employment councils, and workforce diversity banding with scorecards, there were indicators of a changing workplace. Employers saw it first-hand, and studies presaged the fact that our workforce was aging, needing more technologically advanced skills, and becoming increasingly supplied with immigrants from all over the world. Anticipating these trends while operating in a global economy, employers began to plan for this new workforce — this more diverse workforce, different from anything ever seen before. But while most employers understood and satisfied their prescribed legal requirements to promote equal opportunity and ensure nondiscrimination in the workplace, the concept of "diversity" offered no such blueprint. And so the task of defining diversity and defending its business value fell upon each organizational leader.
Today, without a legal compliance mandate on diversity, there is still much variance as to how it is practiced, why it is important, and how much of a resource investment it should require. For those leaders who adopted diversity practices and made them an integral part of their organizational culture, their "aha!" moment came when they saw results; when diversity equaled profitability and sustainable success through greater workforce engagement. For those leaders, diversity became part of their culture of inclusion, which means accepting, valuing, and engaging everyone. Everyone had an opportunity to succeed. The business case for diversity is no different than the people case for diversity — they are one and the same. Simply put, open and unfettered access to all available human talent is the best way to find the best talent. And top talent produces top results. A trajectory that began with legal mandates for nondiscrimination and affirmative action has evolved into the recognition that talent cannot be drawn from just a select few groups, but rather expanded to envelop the richness of backgrounds, qualities, abilities, and experiences that every aspiring individual has to offer regardless of personal characteristics. A commitment to diversity and inclusion extends beyond legal constraints by proactively seeking such talent and opening all opportunities to them.
For many years, we have been encouraged by colleagues and friends to share our thoughts as to what will come next in the field of diversity. After all, through our combined experience, we have been fortunate enough to have influenced the evolution of equal employment opportunity and affirmative action programs and to have witnessed and been part of the emergence of multiculturalism, diversity, and inclusion, from different vantage points: as federal officials responsible for public policymaking in these programs and as private-sector executives, consultants, business owners, authors, and thought leaders. We have promoted the shift in emphasis, away from just counting heads toward making each head count, in our quest for attracting and making full use of our nation’s diverse talent pool. If to go forward one must first look back, we certainly have that path well covered from various perspectives.
This book may well be about predicting the next big phase. But, it is a different type of book. It is not a business book. It is not an HR manual. It is not a legal treatise on diversity; nor is it a template for practicing diversity. There are plenty of books and other resources already available to provide specific guidance in these areas. Rather, this book is a hybrid of all these required elements of global leadership. It cuts across all of these elements while adding a few more. There is no one formula to follow, no specific best practices that must be adopted to ensure success. Instead, this book will encourage and guide you to tap into and rely on your inner resources — "your heart" — to make a lasting difference in the workplace. Leadership from the heart combines a strong functional knowledge and business acumen with the virtues that make us human: character, compassion, empathy, and integrity. Together, they make a powerful combination that can outlast and outperform any other method or legal prescription. HR professionals are pivotal to the success of this combination. They provide the bridge between the highest aspirations that exist within an organization and the application of daily efforts that will yield the desired results. Throughout the book you’ll find examples of real-life conversations and situations to which we have been privy in our various capacities. Due to confidentiality and legal considerations, we are presenting these stories without attribution. Nevertheless, they are real and true to life.
Over the past couple of decades, we have seen an explosion of new words and expressions in the English language, reflecting the dramatic impact that the Internet, technology, globalization, and shifting demographics have had on our daily lives. Words such as "Google," "avatar," and "Sudoku," and phrases such as "speed dating" and "online shopping" are commonplace in conversations. Human Resources is no different, having added to our lexicon such terms as "glass ceiling," "broadbanding," and "onboarding." The speed of technology has allowed us to remain connected at all times, while reducing our messages to a handful of vowels and consonants — mere transactions. We don't seem to have time for more. Somehow, the heart has been left out of our busy daily interactions. The time has come to add to our rather extensive vocabulary of impersonal and technical terms one that involves the heart. The word is "ganas" (gah-nas).
For those that don't know, ganas is a Spanish word that speaks to one’s inner motivation and drive. There might be other uses and applications of this word, but in its origin, the word means inspired motivation. In the context of diversity, ganas inspires us to work for fairness, equity, inclusion, and acceptance in all of our practices — not an isolated policy here or a networking event there. Inspired action moves the conversation from the mechanical, prescribed letter of the law toward the uplifting spirit of the law, aligning character, attitude, and ability with organizational objectives. Our message to you is simply this: Be diverse, responsive, and visionary in your workplaces by design, not by government mandates. Warding off discriminatory practices, as so many of you have done so well, isn't just about doing the right thing, or having good business sense, or about following the letter of the law. It is about bettering our workplaces, nurturing the spirit of our people, cultivating our people resources, and propelling us forward through the productivity and ingenuity of our talent. The aim is to forge policies within companies that are not only fair-minded, but also principled. Doing things right always transcends the pure letter of the law. The more advantageous focus is that of creating environments that are guided by moral, ethical, and equal opportunity principles and built on a foundation of fairness, openness, and accountability, as well as legal rights.
Former Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court, observed before her retirement, "The power I exert on the court depends on the power of my argument, not on my gender."1 Indeed, a key element of diversity is recognizing that talent has no relationship to factors like race or gender. Diversity is foremost about opportunity. In delivering the Court’s ruling on a major landmark case involving race, Justice O'Connor further observed, "Effective participation by members of all racial and ethnic groups in the civic life of our Nation is essential if the dream of one Nation, indivisible, is to be realized … In order to cultivate a set of leaders with legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry, it is necessary that the path of leadership be visibly open to talented and qualified individuals of every race and ethnicity."2
Keeping that path open is essential to fulfilling America's promise. But it is a task attainable only if it is shared and advanced by each and every one of us, regardless of rank or title. It can be done, and the HR professional's role must be instrumental in the process. We have seen these issues first-hand, and are proud to have assisted motivated employers along the way. This book is for all who are so inspired, but are looking for more guidance and direction in their efforts to achieve an inclusive and diverse workforce. For those who operate without policies, programs, or discussions surrounding diversity and inclusion, we hope this book serves as an inspirational starting point. For those who are embracing diversity through an isolated program or two such as supplier diversity, external hiring, or community outreach, we hope you are inspired to undertake a more comprehensive approach. And, for the employer and HR manager who have myriad practices and policies in place, perhaps there will not be a singular "aha" moment, but the inspiration to "check under the hood" to ensure that these practices are functioning well and producing the results intended.
We firmly believe in the power of each individual. We each have a responsibility to use our inner qualities to reach our goals and inspire those around us. Our motivation, our ganas, is the key to our success as individuals and as a nation.
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