Want Real Diversity? Stop Talking About It…

Recently I have noticed that half of my Linkedin feed is heavily occupied with articles and quotes about diversity.

A huge focus on how to embrace diversity, tying this to greater shareholder value, broader perspective, inclusive cultures and so on…

For some large companies who fail to deliver real value, this is sometimes a weapon of mass distraction.  No question – diversity is critically important but honestly I find the HR driven rhetoric to be hollow in many companies. It is not that the intent isn’t positive or well meaning but I have been left in my career feeling quite strongly that companies either talk about diversity or have it – I have yet to see both exist in the same enterprise.

Tolerance, inter-cultural dialogue and respect for diversity are more essential than ever in a world where peoples are becoming more and more closely interconnected. ~ Kofi Annan

So here I am ‘talking’ about diversity for the first time. But here is my most recent learning, possibly a personal aha moment: A revelation I guess.

Rarely have I seen blogs or posts that think about how a more diverse set of customers, when considered an extension of the brand help to drive REAL diversity.

Diversity in the contact center is critical because YOUR market is.

We have talked perhaps too much about the senior executive team pages on website – Let’s be honest, a wall of middle aged white men – We must do better BUT I think as important is how your front lines reflect and represent the society in which you engage.  People to people – human to human.  Are your customer services team diverse in thinking and outlook are they a colorful prism or are you blinding your market with a white light?

Brands are porous. Forget trying to hit some HR induced internal quota and stop looking for diversity exclusively around your floor or the lobby in your office.  Customers and partners are our brand advocates – the the shared economy the lines between business and societies we serve are blurry.  On social media, customers speak for you, defend and promote, they reinforce your brand globally and they are the real face of your brand.

Additionally, those customers engage with your business every day – so that diversity in thought and action is not some poster or all-hands on-deck quarterly session: It MUST be the DNA of your business.

In short, a business is not an isolated enterprise that exists in its own atmosphere.

It exists in the context of your customers and their own diverse views.

Paul Johns
About the author: 

Paul Johns is the Chief Marketing Officer at McGraw-Hill Education.  Mr. Johns was previously the CMO at Conversocial, and the Global Head of Marketing and Communications for Thompson Reuters.  Paul has contributed a several articles to ExecutiveVine.com.  Follow Paul on Twitter and LinkedIn.