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‘One-and-done’ DEI

Is one-and-done DEI an effective way to increase diversity in companies? Read this article to explore the effectiveness of one-and-done DEI.

A friend once related this Arabic proverb to me:

‘Anything a man says of himself is a lie.’

The same can be said for companies.

Is there anything more cringe-worthy than a company that publicly touts itself as ‘diverse’?

Diversity is not an objective unto itself. Our companies and teams don’t become diverse just by hiring one person – or even a few people – from one of the many disparate communities represented by the BAME acronym.

We don’t need to tell people we’re diverse. We don’t need to wear it as a badge of honour. We just need to make ourselves diverse and let the results do the talking.

‘One-and-done’ is one of the single worst approaches we can take to any objective, including diversification of our workforce.

If you’ve ever taken on a new job at any company, you’ve probably seen this: someone you’ve never met, of whom you’ve never heard, comes into your organisation to give a talk on diversity, equity and inclusion – often with a vague smattering of ambiguous advice about tackling implicit bias.

Time and time again, this approach has been proven not to work. Not only does it not work, but it can also reduce diversity in the workforce. Making people aware of their implicit biases can actually cause them to act on them more often or invent better rationalisations for those biases.

This kind of ‘training’ does nothing to change the systems that lead to a lack of diversity in the first place.

Similarly, when a company hires one woman or one ethnically diverse person to their board or a team, they often position themselves as a ‘diverse’ employer.

Diversity is not about hiring one person.

Diversity is a constant journey of self-reflection and reassessment of our values and goals.

We need to stop thinking of diversity as ‘different’ from the ‘norm’. That mentality only perpetuates the existence of the ‘norm’.

Instead, we should consider diversity in terms of ‘accuracy’. We should ask, ‘Does my team accurately reflect the backgrounds and diverse viewpoints of society at large?’

When we approach diversity as a ‘one-and-done’ exercise, we fuel imposter syndrome, tokenism and resentment.

When we specify an ‘other’, we reinforce the out-group/in-group mentality that leads to groupthink.

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Groupthink: Understanding the Need for a Diverse Workplace

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