Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How To Have A Productive (And Hopefully Not Awkward) Conversation About Diversity - FASTCOMPANY

by Lydia Dishman 
Originally published: June 27, 2016
Publisher: FastCompany.com 

Conversations can drive inclusion in a way that formal training programs can't. Here are some dos and don'ts of talking about it.

Sonja Gittens-Ottley believes that most workers want to have conversations about diversity. The problem, she says, is that they are not sure how their statements and questions might be interpreted by their colleagues. So they tend to be extra cautious. "Which means nothing gets said," she observes.

Gittens-Ottley has a stake in making those conversations happen. She recently became part of a small but growing cohort of change agents in tech when she was hired to be the diversity and inclusion lead at Asana, the team productivity software provider.

As the tech sector addresses its diversity problem, reports have been generated, strategies outlined, and other measures have been aimed at attracting a talent pool that equally represents all types of workers. Making diverse employees feel comfortable and included after they’re hired is another step down that path. Tactics like mandatory training or other measures don't always work. But conversations, both structured and informal, are an important part of that process, according to Gittens-Ottley. And the payoff is substantial. A recent report indicated that workforce diversity could add up to $570 billion to the industry.