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The Inclusion Equation

Today's post comes to us courtesy of board member, David Creelman.

It seems hard to believe, but according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are now more women than men in management, professional and related occupations in the U.S. (51.6% women, 48.4% men).

Take a moment to ponder - and appreciate - the magnitude of that change from thirty years ago. And after that moment of appreciation, it's time to get back to thinking about our priorities for inclusion.

What's next? Pick the right priority.

There are three broad goals of inclusion:

  • Hire and promote the best talent without being misled by biases
  • Live up to the corporate value of fairness
  • Create an environment that engages everyone

Here are some options for addressing those inclusion issues:

    • Fix gender-unbalanced roles: The U.S. saw getting equal numbers of men and women into management as a worthy goal, but what about other jobs? The top priorities would probably be jobs like brick mason, roofer and mining machine operator (over 95% male) and speech-language pathologists, kindergarten teachers and dental hygienists (over 95% female). Those jobs are at the top statistically but it might be best for HR to set its own house in order first as it also lacks gender-balance.
    • Tap overlooked talent pools: Just as women have long been an overlooked talent pool, there almost certainly remain large pools of talent that remain under-tapped. For example, it's likely overweight people are discriminated again. It's also worth pondering if a bias in favor of tall people or even in favor of having a low voice are potentially leading recruiters to miss the best candidates. Finding the largest overlooked talent pools is a tempting priority because it's good for business and it helps promote fairness.
    • Help overlooked people in need: If the goal is compassion, then the inclusion movement might consider groups in need who are overlooked. For example, there are many people who are highly stressed because a close relative suffers from addiction or a severe mental illness. These people typically solider on without complaining. Finding the largest groups that we can help could be a worthy social responsibility goal for diversity and inclusion departments.
    • Focus on individuals rather than groups: My own preferred option is to focus on individuals rather than groups. From a talent management perspective, you want the best candidate and there are many reasons why someone may be overlooked (weight, tattoos, poor fashion choices). Diversity and inclusion could insist the talent acquisition function make better use of assessment tools so that the best person for the job really is hired–again, that's good for the business and fair to the candidates. Similarly, initiatives creating an environment that help every individual get along may be more useful than ones that aim at helping groups get along.
    • Address the other issues affecting women: Circling back to the original BLS data, under-representation of women in management and professional roles was a serious issue but not the only one. There are many women's issues (and men's issues for that matter) to be addressed.

Looking ahead

Strange as it sounds, diversity departments in the future may need some kind of affirmative action to bring men into management and professional jobs. Currently 56% of university graduates are women and if the downward trend in education for men continues then this could eventually undermine gender diversity in organizations.

Photo courtesy of

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