Corporate Leaders: Prioritize Diversity Goals Like Other Business Goals

By Dr Joseph Nwoye

There has been questions as to the state of diversity and inclusion in our public and private organizations, year in year out, I see people ask the same question, and yet, year after year I see little to no concrete answer to demonstrate that we are moving in positive direction.

Instead, year in, year out, we hear some people and organizations say, it is moving gradually, and others say to the victims of inequality such as racial and gender inequity “to be patient and that change takes time.” For those that give those flimsy reasons, I say, imagine yourself in an organization that does not recognize you for who you are or what makes you-you. It does not matter what you are, whether you are gay, woman, man, African American, Hispanic, Muslim etc. Instead, they ask you to pretend to be someone else to fit in, and furthermore, they tell you that for you to be yourself, it will take some time and then, they conclude by saying- change takes time, while you continue to lose ground economically stemming from the existing conscious or unconscious bias that is ubiquitous in our society. The question becomes, if you put yourself in the shoes of the victim and continuously be told: “It takes time,” by the way, “Be patient.” How would you feel? In fact, that’s exactly what some people hear on daily basis in some of our public and private organizations.

There is a couple of old sayings that may shed light on the issues of diversity, and maybe, help us to understand why some organizations still experience challenge in their quest for diversity, inclusion, equity and social justice for all. Perhaps, some of these challenges may stem from the fact that no one can fight for something he or she can’t define so are these "BIG" organizations, they can’t fight for what they can’t define. Furthermore, some of these challenges stem from an old management issue that goes, “What gets measured, gets done.” Perhaps if these organizations can define diversity and inclusion, with goals and metrics to measure success, that may provide them the opportunity for success.

As I think about the state of diversity and inclusion, it seems to me that while diversity is being embraced by advocates who talk about it and stress the need for diversity and inclusion, some business organizations are certainly echoing similar sentiments in their public statements and those who put it into practice are benefiting from it, while those that lack it pay prizes, some of these prizes are known and others unknown. The real question becomes, especially for those who do not know what they don’t know about the potential benefit of diversity, how do they define diversity and inclusion and how do they measure it in terms of an organization’s business success?

Diversity is one of those things that everyone talks about, in fact, most organizations state in their websites how they value and commit to diversity, and yet there is consistent report that these organizations are not making the marks when it comes to action and result. For instance, recently in a piece written by Max Abelson and Jordyn Holman in Bloomberg Business Week, they assert, “Black Executives are losing ground at some big banks.” They further stated in the lead up to the story, “The percentage of black leaders at JPMorgan, Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs is falling even as the U.S. workforce gets more diverse.” I am not making this up, if you think that these businesses are too sophisticated to know better, because these organizational leaders were trained in the best business schools such as Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Chicago, Yale, etc., and a such, they should know how to set goals, implementation strategies, and determine through assessment as to whether they are succeeding or need some other improvement activities to succeed, and of course, hold people accountable. May be they can achieve a measure of success, especially for those in leadership positions. If you think that those purported leaders from ivy know better when it comes to diversity and inclusion, think again. To get a sense of their lack of clear understanding of the issues associated with diversity in the minds of these purported leaders' inability to perform in the area of diversity and inclusion, please read the article below and see for yourself, how incompetent these "IVY"leaders are in the area of diversity and inclusion. Maybe, because they have never been held accountable for their actions or no actions on the issues of diversity in contrast to the stringent metrics upon which their leadership in other areas of business are measured ( It’s a clear evidence that these corporations are not serious when it comes to the issues of diversity.

If they are serious about diversity and inclusion, they should be treating diversity and inclusion like they treat their other business priorities, and if they do, they should set goals with a road map to achieve them as they do in other areas of their work. For instance, they have other business goals and they are realizing those and, in most cases, exceeding those goals, year after year without excuses. It’s only when it comes to diversity that they fail repeatedly and consistently give flimsy excuses as Max Abelson and Jordyn Holman pointed out in their article and elsewhere. Could you imagine what would happen if they were not meeting their other big business goals? Believe me, if it’s in any other business priority goals, mistake would only happen once, and the problem will be fixed, in part because people in leadership will be held accountable for their actions or lack thereof in other priority areas. However, when it comes to diversity and inclusion, they don’t care because they are never held accountable for their actions on issues of diversity and inclusion. In some cases, they are not even clear as to what diversity and inclusion mean.

Clearly, these banks and other corporate organizations must rethink strategy since it appears that there is a lot of talks but no action, and certainly what they have done thus far is not yielding the expected results, and therefore, the question remains: what are they doing about it?

To the above questions, I would suggest that these big businesses rethink what diversity means for them and more importantly, what diversity means for their operation in a diverse society? Perhaps that would help them to rethink what is their responsibility in a diverse society, and that could perhaps encourage them to think of new strategies if they truly want to be competitive in our global and diverse communities. If they adhere to these ideas, they could potentially see the benefit as I am certain it would lead them to a new and higher contour of business success. The time for excuses is over and it only hurts them. They must start a new by first, defining what diversity and inclusion mean and secondly, they must begin to set goal and how to measure success or lack of it in the area of diversity and inclusion, just as they do in their other areas of business operations. I believe that if they take the two steps recommended above, and then proceed to advocate for diversity and inclusion, and more importantly, begin to hold people accountable, especially those in leadership positions. I believe that if they adhere to my suggestions, they will see a remarkable shift, a shift that would usher in creativity and innovative strategies that not only clarify their diversity goals, but also buttress their use of metrics to measure success, rewarding those with concrete results while hold unsuccessful leaders accountable for their lack of expected result- achievement of diversity and inclusion goals at all levels of the business operation.