Thursday, December 12, 2019

A disappointing progress report on diversity and inclusion

strategy+business, December 12, 2019

by Theodore Kinni

Illustration by Boris SV

Racial and ethnic minorities make up 38.8 percent of the population of the U.S. and a nearly equivalent share of its workforce. But minorities represent only 17 percent of full-time university professors and 16.6 percent of newsroom journalists. They are only 4.5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs and 16 percent of Fortune 500 boardroom directors. They are 9 percent of law firm partners; 16 percent of museum curators, conservators, educators, and leaders; 13 percent of film directors; and 6 percent of the voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

These discrepancies haven’t gone unnoticed, but they also haven’t been effectively addressed. “During more than three decades of my professional life, diversity has been a national preoccupation,” writes journalist and New York University professor Pamela Newkirk in the second paragraph of the preface to her book Diversity, Inc. “Yet despite decades of handwringing, costly initiatives, and uncomfortable conversations, progress in most elite American institutions has been negligible.”

Newkirk devotes most of Diversity, Inc., which is heavily focused on racial inequality, and particularly, discrimination against African-Americans, to demonstrating this dismaying reality through a sometimes tangled mix of factoids and anecdotes drawn from the arenas of academia, media, and business. The bigger stories that emerge are all variations on the same theme: The lack of progress by minorities in America’s elite institutions is a function of a political and societal arc that has stretched across a half a century. Read the rest here.

A Noble Purpose Alone Won’t Transform Your Company

Learned a lot lending an editorial hand here:

MIT Sloan Management Review, December 10, 2019

by Rob Cross, Amy Edmondson, and Wendy Murphy

Consider these two companies: The first is a retail chain with hundreds of locations globally — innovative, but basically a sales platform. The second is a hospital that treats the world’s most devastating cancers. Which do you think has a more engaged workforce?

If you chose the latter, in light of its quest to save lives, you wouldn’t be alone. Yet, when we spent time with both organizations, we discovered that the working environment in the hospital was rife with fear, workforce morale was low, and employee turnover was high. At the retail chain, on the other hand, there was a palpable spirit of camaraderie, employees were energetic and enthusiastic, and customers were very pleased with the service. The retailer had the more engaged workforce by a long shot.

It’s a common misconception, both in businesses and in management articles and books, that a sense of purpose is what matters most when it comes to engaging employees. Many leaders concerned with attracting and retaining top talent believe that nothing motivates people as much as the larger good they might be doing or the chance to change the world. Accordingly, they extol the higher virtues of their companies’ missions and the meaning of the work they offer.

But our work with more than 300 companies over the past 20 years, particularly our research using organizational network analysis (ONA) and our interviews with executives, reveals that purpose is only one contributing factor; the level and quality of interpersonal collaboration actually has the greatest impact on employee engagement. In this article, we’ll explore why collaboration has that effect and which behaviors you can adopt and practice to nurture it. Read the rest here.