An open letter of advice to CEOs on racial diversity

I share this article from Aneeta Rattan, because it resonated so strongly with my experience in financial services.

There can be no doubt that I benefited from the inherent bias the system provided me.

And as I reached more senior positions, I too failed to do enough to break the cycle.

The workplace operating system is as broken today as it was when I first experienced it in the late 90’s.

And this isn’t something HR teams can fix, with new sets of policies and procedures or internal marketing campaigns to remind people about the power of diversity.

Individuals that succeeded, succeeded because they were perceived to fit in. 

They could be trusted to deliver because they played to the unwritten customs, traditions and rules of the predominantly white, male leadership teams.

And the more similar your background to the leadership team, the easier it is to play that game.

This, of course, goes beyond inherent racism.  

The number one rule for being successful in a corporate is how quickly you can build that network of individuals that will help propel you forward.

And when you are in a successful network will you will always have the advantage to those outside of it, no matter the relative knowledge and skill levels.

I don’t believe we can be productive without networks.  They are critical for cooperation, coordination and collaboration.

But I do hope that the #blm movement is the catalyst for a significant reboot in how these networks are formed.

So do check out Aneeta’s article as I thought she had some excellent suggestions on what us leaders can do, above and beyond simply posting platitudes and open letters of support.

I’d love to hear your views once you’ve taken a look.

Dear CEO,

The facts are the facts — you have to start from where you are. As you move forward from your #BlackLivesMatter statement, admit where you are in plain words.

The chances are that you too do not have much to show when it comes to the most obvious and visible aspect of diversity — your top leadership team. Looking further down the ranks of your organisation, you may have some representation of minorities and women, but it’s likely you have also documented issues with these employees’ sense of belonging and inclusion from employee engagement surveys, plus anonymous reporting of bias via human resources or employee networks.