Do diversity initiatives work?
Some studies suggest that the effort to diversify the C-suite and boardroom has reached an impasse. Others suggest we’re moving along nicely. But how long will it take? Five years? Just another 10 years? Longer? Two years ago on this blog, I wrote about a quick business article search I conducted on the topic of diversity. At the time, I had gone back 44 years to read what business journals were writing regarding the benefits of a diverse workforce.
About the same time I shared this post about the status of people of color and women on corporate boards. Despite their increased representation in the workforce, the number of Latino CEO’s and board of directors has remained the same or decreased since I wrote these two posts.
So it really does beg the question – do diversity initiatives work? Perhaps a better question is why do they fail? I don’t know.
Over the last few years, I’ve seen the increased numbers of diversity and inclusion services and experts tout the important work they do. They seem to be doing great for themselves. Yet, the numbers remain the same. Why? Many of their clients have the worst diversity and inclusion numbers out there. Are they part of the problem?
Is it easier (and cheaper) for organizations to invest in window dressing initiatives rather invest the time and resources needed to diversify their leadership? Perhaps change their culture? I don’t have the answers.
One reason might be that many organizations are not as transparent as they should with their data. Another could be the perception that years of diversity talk is just talk – talk without the walk. Or could it be all the research that aims to diversify the workplace can’t even agree on whether mandatory or voluntary diversity strategies are best?
Who knows. I certainly don’t.
But I would also argue that no one else does.