Intentional Inclusion with The Diversity Doctor

#3 What's your WHY for D&I?

May 05, 2022 Dr Donna de Haan Episode 3
Intentional Inclusion with The Diversity Doctor
#3 What's your WHY for D&I?
Show Notes Transcript

Simon Sinek famously said "People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it." If you want people to buy in to your D&I efforts, if you want to create positive change within your organisation, if you want to truly develop a Diverse, Inclusive, Value lead and Equity drive DIVE culture, where everyone and your bottom line can THRIVE, then you need to start with your WHY for D&I.

In this episode I explain why starting with WHY is so important, I'll give you lot's of examples of WHY statements and I have a great FREE resource to help you create your own WHY for D&I statement - which you can access here

Hello my friend, welcome back to episode 3 of Intentional Inclusion with the Diversity Doctor. Today’s episode is all about laying strong foundations for any D&I work. It’s about finding your own authentic reason to engage in any D&I work, it’s about connecting to your values so that D&I becomes embedded in your companies DNA.

Please stick around until the end because I have a great resource I want to share with you that I know will help you take your D&I efforts to the next level. 

What I’m going to share with you today is a game changer. It will stop you falling into the surface level performative act of signalling an interest in D&I and help you truly create an impact, stand out from the crowd and create a business where everyone and your bottom line can thrive.

But here’s the thing, what I’m sharing with you today IS the key to unlocking endless potential and growth in your business but it’s not a magic pill. It’s super simple and super effective but you are going to have to dig deep and do the work.

Are you ready?   Then let’s DIVE in?

There’s plenty of evidence out there now to support the business case for D&I and the vast majority of companies are trying to do something with D&I but they’re failing because they are reacting to external pressure. They are literally looking at what everyone else is doing and they’re copying it and in most cases, they’re copying it in a half arsed manner. 

I mean from the outside for some of the big corporates, it can look very flashy. All the right words are there and it looks very shiny - take NIKEs Just Don’t do it anti racism campaign for example. It’s powerful stuff but seconds after I watch that marketing campaign, I can google the NIKE board and I’m  confronted by a very white pale and stale image.

This is just one example of a company that is trying to add D&I on to their business as a reaction to external social pressure. It’s nothing more than jumping on the bandwagon.

And here’s the thing D&I isn’t a marketing campaign, it isn’t an add on, it’s a way of working - in my opinion it’s the only way that works, it’s the only way to do business and certainly the only way to future proof any business.  

At the time of recording this episode it’s May and for many countries June is PRIDE month. A month to celebrate and support members of the LGBTQI+ community.  In June I will do another episode specifically focusing on this, but for now I want you to be mindful of how many rainbow flags you will start to see next month. How many brands will start to add rainbow to their logos. How many companies, maybe yours included will raise a rainbow flag and host a series of PRIDE related events in June. I’m all for raising awareness and support but I can’t bare how superficial this has become. 

Rainbow washing your company once a year, is not allyship. Hanging a rainbow flag once a year outside your building and only having gender binary toilets inside your building is hypocritical. And the easiest way to disrupt this performative signalling - is to ask a very simple question - WHY?

WHY are you hosting a PRIDE related event in June? 

WHY are you investing in an anti racism campaign?

WHY have you appointed a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer?

WHY do you want to diversify your hiring?

As a researcher and consultant WHY is my absolute favourite word. As a mum to three young children, not so much! But the difference is my children ask WHY because they don’t like the answer they’ve heard, they’re questioning the response, generally because it’s not giving them what they want in that moment. When I work with clients, I ask WHY because I want them to hear the answer, and I ask why over and over again until they find the real answer themselves. 

So let me ask you again WHY are you raising a PRIDE flag in June?

If your answer is because you want to show support for the LGBTQI+ community, then WHY don’t you have gender neutral toilets? Why don’t you share your pronouns freely? 

And why do you want to support the LGBTQI+ community? WHY is this community important to you? Why not other underrepresented communities?

Simon Sinek’s incredibly popular ted talk ‘How great Leaders inspire action’ has over 58 million views - I’ll include a link to it in the show notes, focuses on the golden circle and the question WHY

Sinek argues that many great leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, and the Wright Brothers had little in common, but they all started with WHY. They realised that people won’t truly buy into a product, service, movement, or idea until they understand the WHY behind it.

Brief side note - I really love Simon’s work but he generally defaults to male examples of leadership, so just be mindful of that if you engage with this work. Don’t feed into the narrative that a leader has to be a man. 

In his Ted Talk, Sinek introduced us to The Golden Circle, and it provides a framework upon which organisations can be built, movements can be led, and people can be inspired. 

The golden circle consists of three concentric circles, which start in the middle with WHY, the next layer out is HOW and the final outer layer is WHAT - if like me you find it difficult to transfer auditory information to visual images don’t worry, I have a complete free WHY for D&I resource for you, which you can access via the show notes. The main point to grasp right now is that it is important to start with WHY

Sinek's theory is that successfully communicating the passion behind the 'Why' is a way to communicate with the listener's limbic brain. This is the part of our anatomy that processes feelings such as trust and loyalty - as well as decision-making. Therefore successfully articulating your 'Why' is a very impactful way to communicate with other humans, because it taps into the listener’s brain that influences behaviour. 

Sinek argues that the vast majority of organisations start by telling you WHAT they do - the outer layer - whilst this is informative and often practical, it doesn’t engage us. 'WHAT' messaging only engages with the neocortex - the part of our brain that's rational. 

June is PRIDE month, so WHAT we’re going to do is hang up a rainbow flag 

Whilst that’s a perfectly rational thing to do during this time of year, it doesn’t engage with my limbic brain, it doesn’t call me to action. Which is why it remains performative. D&I work requires us to change our behaviour, to do things differently. Raising a flag doesn’t help me understand HOW you want me to change and it does nothing to share the reason WHY as an organisation we truly care about the LGBTQI+ community.

WHY is the purpose, cause or belief that drives us

Simon Sinek’s own WHY is:

"to inspire people to do what inspires them so that, together, each of us can change our world for the better."

The WHY from Southwest Airlines is:

“We connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly air travel.”

Traditionally organisations may present their WHY statement as a mission statement - here’s Spotify’s for example:

“To unlock the potential of human creativity—by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by it.” 

In short a WHY statement is built upon a contribution and impact

Airbnb’s WHY statement is:

“To connect millions of people in real life all over the world, through a community marketplace– so that you can belong anywhere.”

We do this… connect millions of people in real life all over the world, through a community marketplace, = contribution - so that you can belong anywhere = impact 

The WHY is about our contribution to impact and how we can serve others. The WHY inspires us. It is our purpose. Your WHY statement is a sentence that clearly expresses your unique contribution and impact. The impact reflects the difference you want to make in the world, and the contribution is the primary action that you take towards making your impact.

For example, my WHY statement is as follows:

“To help organisations build people centred businesses, where everyone feels safe, seen and valued.”

This is WHY I do what I do.

HOW I do this is through helping organisations create diverse, inclusive, value lead and equity driven cultures.

WHAT I do is create educational content such as this podcast or the free resources I regularly share, or through the paid trainings or workshops I offer, or through advisory, research or consultancy projects. 

Having people believe in your WHY is what will make them take action either by purchasing your products, seeking your services, or hiring you to fulfil their business need.

And this my friend is what I’m asking you to do, start with your WHY for D&I. Why does your company care about D&I?

How does it relate to your companies values?

Not PRIDE, not anti-racism, not gender equality but the whole umbrella of diversity characteristics, the entire lived experience of inclusion. 

Since I work in D&I, my business WHY is the same as my WHY for D&I

“To help organisations build people centred businesses, where everyone feels safe, seen and valued.”

Because this is my WHY, it makes no sense to only raise the pride flag once a year. A rainbow flag is a symbol of safety for members of the LGBTQI+ community, if I only raise this for one month, I’m sending the message that this is a safe space for 4 weeks of the year but not the other 48! Because this is my WHY it also makes no sense to raise the pride flag, a symbol of safety and acceptance, then proceed to mis-gender someone, which is why I share my pronouns, because it’s my way of inviting others to do the same, so I can acknowledge and value their correct pronouns. Because this is my WHY I’m always looking for none gender binary spaces, toilets or changing rooms for example - options within spaces where people can be their authentic selves.

If your company does not work directly within D&I, chances are your companies broader WHY may not directly relate to D&I so you need to create a specific WHY for D&I. But this specific WHY for D&I should link to your companies broader mission and vision.

Remember a WHY statement is simply a combination of contribution and impact.

Again I have a FREE resource to help you work through the process of finding your unique WHY for D&I - I’ll link to that in the show notes - once you have this written down it becomes your true north. This is your anchor. This is the reason you do what you do. This is what stops you drifting off track and heading straight towards hypocrisy. 

This is what helps you realise you cannot put out statements about how you value everyone’s unique experience, how everyone’s opinion is valued, then fire half your workforce because they chose not to have a vaccination. 

This is what stops you from saying your sport is free of politics, then banning athletes from competing because they won’t share their political views.

This is what stops you from saying you value women and you want to have gender balanced leadership, whilst paying women employees less than men.

This is what stops you investing millions in an anti racism campaign before you look internally at all the white faces holding positions of power and privilege in your organisation.

Stop being hypocritical, stop window dressing, rainbow washing and stop being performative and start with your WHY for D&I. Grab the free resource here and if you have any questions or want help formulating your WHY for D&I statement, please reach out 

Okay my friend I’m going to sign off here but I will dive into this more next week and you know what I even have a perfect resource I will share with you then - ha - I’m already excited about next week - I hope you feel the same way - until next time my friend.