We hope you attended NSCA’s 23rd annual Business & Leadership Conference and watched Dr. Ivan Joseph’s keynote, “Business Benefits of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” But in case you missed it …
There were 16 sessions at NSCA’s 2021 Business & Leadership Conference (BLC), including several concurrent breakout discussions. One benefit to this year’s BLC being virtual is that our platform provider, LAVNCH, stored videos of all sessions for seven days after the event. That gave everybody a week to watch any sessions they missed.
The NSCA staff took advantage of that, too.
In this series of ICYMI BLC session recaps, NSCA staff members share their own takeaways from sessions that impacted them. Here’s NSCA Accountant Courtney Kerkman’s take on Dr. Ivan Joseph’s “Business Benefits of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” session.
Consider ‘Equity’ and ‘Inclusion’
Dr. Ivan Joseph emphasized how important diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is for NSCA members and the integration industry. In doing so, he made a point to show the difference between “equity” and “equality.”
Equality is the concept of treating everybody the same, but equity is different. It’s about creating an even playing field by treating people differently based on needs.
Meanwhile, the concept of inclusion is important. We don’t always realize it, but we set goals for ourselves based on what we can envision achieving. It’s much easier to set lofty goals if we see people we can relate to in high-level positions.
Dr. Joseph shared a personal example. Even though he was an extremely accomplished athlete growing up in Canada, playing as many sports as he could, he didn’t consider golf – despite working at a golf course! Until he saw Tiger Woods win the Masters, he didn’t even think about picking up golf clubs. Seeing someone like you succeeding in an arena you haven’t investigated can open your eyes to new possibilities.
Related Video: NSCA’s Ignite 2.0 Committee Focuses on DEI
Conflict Isn’t Always a Negative
Dr. Joseph shared studies finding that groups and businesses with diverse workforces experience nuances that others do not. They may have find getting to the end result to be more challenging, for example. But, more importantly, these diverse groups are more likely to get the “right answer” or be more successful than a group with similar backgrounds.
Achieving a Diverse Workforce Isn’t Simple
It’s not about quotas and checking off boxes. Achieving a diverse workforce starts with investing in a diverse pool of candidates. Hiring companies should make it clear from the onset that they want multiple candidates from multiple backgrounds.
Dr. Joseph cited research showing that, if there are four candidates and one is female or of a racially underserviced background, then that person had less than a 10% chance of getting the job—even though basic math shows they should have a 25% chance.; however, when there are multiple women up for a position, the chance of filling the position with a woman is 79%.
Creating a DEI Company Culture
It’s also important to establish objective criteria beforehand and limit referral hiring, according to Dr. Joseph. A company should define what a cultural fit would look like and demand accountability. The days of shared backgrounds are antiquated. Creating a homogeneous pipeline where staff is interconnected won’t lead you to a DEI culture and, therefore, may make the business less successful.
Treating staff as “the same” can lead to a feeling that an employee doesn’t fit in or doesn’t belong. These feelings can limit an employee’s ability to reach their potential. Giving your staff an outlet to recognize and celebrate cultural differences will expand everyone’s understanding and lead to better communication, mutual respect, and a more productive group.
Rethink Your Job Candidate Questions
During the interview process, it’s important to move away from “how do you feel?” or “how comfortable are you with?” questions. Instead, ask skills-based questions.
You are still looking for a great candidate. Having that candidate demonstrate his or her ability to solve for X will open all participants’ eyes, especially if each candidate solves the question differently using their background—but gets to the same answer.
Achieving a Cohesive Environment
Once a company has a diverse team, Dr. Joseph challenges companies further: “How do you think about cohesion as it relates to higher performance?” He explains that there is task vs. social cohesion. Understanding that both are important makes it “more likely your team wants to be part of the solution,” he says.
“High-performing teams are in alignment when they have clarity of purpose—professional and personally.”
Once social cohesion is established through acknowledgment and acceptance, then task cohesion will follow, leading to success.