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What The US Elections Tell Us About the State of Diversity and Inclusion

I am spoiled by what I know about diversity, its importance to business survival, and its probable importance to the world.

And by “diversity”, I mean the simplest form of the word as I am continually reminded from the excellent work of Joe Gerstandt – diversity means difference.

What most concerns me about these elections is that the game of elections runs in the face of what we need to accomplish. Instead of learning how to build a better nation from our diversity, each candidate works to appeal to sub-cultures in an effort to win delegates today, and voters in the remaining months until November. The US would simply not be able to accept a candidate who stood on a platform that wasn’t one side or the other. Here are the examples that actually concern me the most.

  1. “God Bless Iowa”. This is what Ted Cruz said as part of his victory speech in Iowa. He asked the god he praises to bestow blessings on that state where people clearly had the wisdom to support him.  Now, I know that this is just rhetoric, but if he is as religious as he claims, this statements carries a lot of meaning. Because you voted for me, I will assure the supreme being watches over you. Trump’s version of this is “I love the people of (fill in the blank with the names of states where he has won so far)”.
  2. I can’t even think about any one quote or action of Donald Trump that isn’t frighteningly narrow. There is only one right way, it’s Trump’s way. While he admits he will surround himself with strong advisers, I am confident that one of his hiring requirements will be that the advisers are people that think like him. At least he has the best words. I think the ability to be decisive is important and lacking in many of our governmental leaders. While some lean to lobbyists to help them decide, others may make a genuine attempt to listen to their constituency. Trump’s idea of constituency is more ideology.
  3. On the Democratic side, there are similar concerns. Again, I believe these are driven by the nature of the process. I like some of what Bernie Sanders says, but wonder how effective he can be in changing the way we manage the economy given the congress he will likely deal with. Like the others, he is not talking about a vision that unites, but he is trying to use the 99% to at least describe a group that has their economic state in common. But the differences within the 99%, are frankly ‘Huge’.
  4. If this were a hiring process, no one has a resume that looks like Hillary Clinton’s. If any other candidate had that resume, that is all they would be talking about. That experience may or may not be the foundation of the kind of leadership we need. Ironically, to me anyway, is that her experience tends to get ignored by the polarized views of her as a leader. If I decide “I hate Hillary” then I don’t need to acknowledge that she might actually be the most qualified. What I fear the most here is that both consciously and sub-consciously, a large part of the anti-Hillary sentiment is gender based.

It’s the nature of the election process. Appeal to voters based on their personal interests, not on the interests of the growth of the country. Imagine a CEO who relied on the votes of employees to get/keep his job. “If you elect me as your CEO, I will employ a strategy that will reduce our labor costs and improve our market position. This means you will all have to give something up but our company will thrive”.  Meanwhile, his opponent is promising that there will be change, that “if chosen as your CEO, I will make increasing your wages a priority. We may lose ability to spend on innovation or marketing, and I’ll try not to make any cuts, but those that remain will make more.”  Both strategies are divisive and based in fear – fear over the wrong candidate winning.

When I look at the process, I am no longer surprised at how we haven’t yet embraced diversity everywhere. Our leaders are among the worst at modeling inclusive behaviors.

We have such a long way to go.

Amazon Needs a Fifteenth Principle

It’s hard to look at any of my normal feeds today and still not see a reference to what’s going on at Amazon. The NYT article that appeared this weekend clearly makes Amazon out to be an incredibly competitive place to work. Competition seems to be defined as much in dedication and hours spent as keyContinue Reading

Goals, Actions, and Intent – Part 3

Most of us know about making objectives SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound). But here’s the next thing I think you should consider. Ideally, your objectives reflect change and growth. So, after setting SMART Objectives, what about a smart plan to achieve them? We don’t change and grow accidentally. We need a plan. In myContinue Reading

Talent – When Enough is Not Enough

One of the things I am known for at work is my view that we sometimes over-design or over-think things. One of my coworkers refers to this as the GSD – Gardner Sufficiency Doctrine.  It’s that point in a process where you realize continued investment will yield diminished returns.  Some people call it the 80/20Continue Reading

The Introvert on Vacation

I’ve worked the with the same company long enough to earn a lot of vacation time. And for me, just taking Friday off in the summer would be a great use of that time. Realistically, I share that time with Mrs. I, and we plan to travel. Earlier this year we took a cruise. Now,Continue Reading