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How not to promote diversity and inclusion

Hi Everyone!

It's been a while since I've participated in this forum and I'm glad to be able to jump back in. There was a LinkedIn post that came up on my home page today, I thought I'd share the story with you all...

Ernst and Young fell afoul of their own good intentions last week when they tweeted a poll that asked why LGBTQ+ inclusion is important.  Of course we all know that having a divers workforce is important and there are studies that show that programs that promote diversity, and LGBTQ+ in particular, have a positive ROI along with other impacts to the organization. But...that's not why it is important. 

As EY very quickly learned, promoting inclusion and diversity is important because it is the right thing to do.


I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts!





Laura Holton Community Leader May 19, 2021

A very interesting post @Scott Theus, a great topic jump back in with!

Like # people like this

Thanks for sharing @Scott Theus 

I believe we (as a society) still have a long way to go. In this case, i agree with you regarding the mispercepcion. But, its up to us to continue fighting for the right thing. 

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Mykenna Cepek Community Leader May 19, 2021

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I want to acknowledge that this is a complex issue today. I wish that it was as simple as "it's the right thing to do". But unfortunately it's not (yet).

In many countries the concepts of inclusion and equality tend to be mostly talking points. The real change needed is in peoples' hearts. That is not easy, and takes time. Logical arguments and empirical data, unfortunately, don't change long-held cultural, political, and family norms.

Here is an article from the front-page of the New York Times today, highlighting how difficult it is to move this ball. While this relates to a community struggling whether to identify themselves as "inclusive" (instead of a business), it's still strongly relevant:

I applaud that some businesses are starting to stand up and be vocal about inclusion and equality (not just LGBTQ+ but "race", gender, ability, etc). Unfortunately, this bold action can often be seen (and spun) as biased politically, or even opposed to some faith perspectives. I think those intersections are where the most productive conversations can occur to explore what is "the right thing" to do.

Like Pedro Silva likes this

Thanks for sharing that article @Mykenna Cepek !

You're right, of course. There is so much more to issues of diversity and inclusion than my simplified reason that "its the right thing to do." So, how do businesses move the ball?

I suggest that there are (at least) two distinct factors needed:

First, businesses want to be seen as moral, ethical, and empathetic so they adopt diversity and inclusion as core values and develop programs to change their cultures. 

Second, businesses exist to make money so it is easier to approve expensive, difficult, culture changing programs like those that create more diversity and inclusion because they can be shown to have a long term ROI. 

The first is an intrinsic motivation; businesses want to do the right thing (or at least be seen as doing the right thing; the "raison d'être" of inclusion programs.  The second is an extrinsic motivator; businesses want to do things that improve their bottom lines; the "justification" for spending money. In politically charged organizations or those with strong faith based perspectives the ROI can help encourage change. 

Both of these are needed to motivate a business to change, but where EY failed is in understanding how society, and particularly the LGTB+ community and their allies, would see efforts to promote diversity and inclusion as a function of ROI as presented in their survey on Twitter.  The criticism they faced stems from society's perception that it is more important to promote some values because they are right rather than because they make money. 


BTW...I still don't know how to move the ball, other than to say we keep pushing forward, one yard at a time, 

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Mykenna Cepek Community Leader May 19, 2021

Agreed. The EY survey responses were all clearly in that "extrinsic motivator" category. People could have interpreted it as the clumsy push marketing effort that it was, instead of reacting out of a polarization mentality.

How different might the response have been if they had the foresight to add just one more response:

  • All of the above, AND because it's the right thing to do.
Like Scott Theus likes this
Kat Marketplace Partner May 22, 2021

The phrase "nothing about us without us" encapsulates a lot of what I see as important with diversity and inclusion approaches in businesses and organisations. No matter how great your intentions, it is easy to make mis-steps even when you have good intentions if a group of people are making decisions on behalf of another group of people. 

The only time that is okay is parenting (and even that has limits) so to do it to adults is not kind.

Like Mykenna Cepek likes this
Vero Rivas Community Leader Aug 28, 2021

Hi @Scott Theus 

   Interesting post, thanks for sharing

   Now more than ever it is necessary to reinforce the inclusion of all people without valuing who they are, they are simply people and that alone deserves to be respected and valued, at the end of the day we are all human beings



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