Leadership and Diversity: It starts in the classroomLeadership in business starts in the classroom, long before
Leadership and Diversity: It starts in the classroom
Leadership in business starts in the classroom, long before it is exercised in the boardroom. But when it comes to diversity, our nation’s higher education faces a leadership gap, similar to that in the boardroom, and both must be closed. The college classroom is where tomorrow’s leaders—today’s students—are inspired, motivated, educated and prepared for careers.
Hiring managers at most major companies will tell you, unfortunately, that the young talent pool coming out of colleges, today, is not as diverse as they would like it to be. Across all business disciplines, and in academia, there is a collective agreement: our country needs more African-Americans, Latinos and Native-Americans to study business and similar professions. With today’s global marketplace, and our increasingly multicultural domestic footprint, there are lucrative career opportunities awaiting business graduates. Companies know that a diverse workforce produces a diversity of ideas and a level of innovation that will outpace its competitors.
Shell Energizes Supplier Diversity InitiativeWhen you’ve been one of the industry leaders in divers
Shell Energizes Supplier Diversity Initiative
When you’ve been one of the industry leaders in diversity for more than 40 years, it can be easy to become used to winning and lose your competitive fire. Year after year of meeting or outperforming your goals can make even the most astute achievers a bit complacent. Fortunately, that’s not the case oil and gas energy leader Shell Oil Company finds itself in with its supplier diversity program. However, after taking a long hard look at its past successes and setting a vision for new goals and achievements, the company has hit refresh and is retooling its supplier diversity practices.
One of the first things Shell has done is to create an executive steering team, chaired by the company’s U.S. Country Chair and President Bruce Culpepper and driven by leaders of the company’s major U.S. businesses. According to Debra Stewart, director, Supplier Diversity and Diversity Outreach, these company executives have partnered with the leadership of the procurement team to develop supplier diversity growth strategies for all of Shell’s U.S. businesses.
UNCONSCIOUS BIASES AND THE WORKPLACEThe most noted bias discussed in the workplace is discrimina
UNCONSCIOUS BIASES AND THE WORKPLACE
The most noted bias discussed in the workplace is discrimination. However, there is another type known as unconscious bias.
This implicit bias involves the attitudes, stereotypes or prejudice that impact our actions, decisions and behaviors in our unconscious minds. The difference with this bias and overt discrimination is that we are unaware of it, and it happens outside of our control—accidental discrimination toward a person or group.
Have you ever made a quick judgement or assessment of a person/people and/or situation? Your brain automatically triggers a response influenced by your background, personal experiences and life or cultural experiences.
Impact in the Workplace
Unconscious bias appears in many forms. Simply put, it is favoring one group over another, and it occurs at all levels.
However, it can have the greatest impact with high-ranking individuals and those responsible for or who have great influence over the wellbeing of others. With that said, it can have devastating consequences to the individuals or groups who are the targets for such biases. The workplace difficulty can often be tied to this bias.
Examples of the impacts of unconscious biases can be seen in:
- • Hiring and promotions
- • Assessing and providing feedback
- • Job satisfaction
- • Marketing campaigns
- • Treatment of customers/stakeholders
- • Mentoring
- • Leadership selection
How to Address
First, recognize that we are all naturally biased. The key is to mitigate or remove our biases.
We can do that by:
- • Awareness: Focus on fair treatment and respect. Your plan to ensure this happens and the expectations of every member of the organization.
- • Recognize Your Own Biases: Assess your actions, decisions and behaviors to acknowledge your personal biases.
- • Provide Training: Educate to change behaviors away from bias and discrimination.
- • Change Thinking: Expose and address unconscious biases by being more conscious in your thinking and more deliberate in efforts to check your responses.
- • Inclusion: Make a conscious effort to ensure all are included or considered.
- • Improve Processes, Policies and Procedures: Ensure the structure of the organization does not permit biases.
Hidden Figures…Limited FiguresThe untold story of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan an
Hidden Figures…Limited Figures
The untold story of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, brilliant African-American women working at the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA), was great reminder to diverse professionals to keep making remarkable strides in their professions.
These three women served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit. There were many things these women experienced, learned, and shared that can be great leadership traits to use today. Diverse professionals can and are driving success in many industries. However, there could be much more success if there were fewer limited figures.
Stay cutting edge. Vaughan lead a team that made significant contributions to the organization. Let’s not forget her current situation was not ideal. They were dispensable. She was overlooked, performing the duties of a job without having the title. But she stayed positive, and continued to perform with excellence while making her desires known. She took it upon herself to research the computer language of the future.
Vaughan lead a team that made significant contributions to the organization. Let’s not forget her current situation was not ideal. She and other women in her office were dispensable. She was overlooked, performing the duties of a job without having the title. But she stayed positive, and continued to perform with excellence while making her desires known. She took it upon herself to research the computer language of the future.
In the movie, Vaughan had the wisdom to observe and notice the direction the organization was going in. She did not stand around the water cooler discussing what was going wrong but took her career into her own hands. She learned the details of the language and taught her team enough about it to make them more of an asset to NASA.
What direction is your organization going in? What do they need? How can you lead the organization in accomplishing the mission?
Look Beyond Yourself.
Vaughan trained her team to be valuable assets. When it was time to be the answer to the organization’s problem , she did not only secure herself a job. She positioned the entire team to be the solution; job security and value add. In the end, she received the position she desired and earned while serving others.
Good leaders need followers. It is not a bad idea to develop your own followers. The mission moved beyond an individual (limited) to creating a pipeline of leaders and high-potential team members. Are you building for many or just a few—you? It is imperative that you build an immediate pipeline of diverse high potentials.
Your mastermind group.
All three of the ladies had different responsibilities in different departments. They shared in each other’s journey. They became confidants and a support system for each other. When they met outside of work, they encouraged each other to push beyond the limitations thrust upon them. And as parents, they shared in the struggle at all levels. There was no tearing one down so the other could get ahead. They became the eyes and ears for each other—sharing knowledge, skills and a common goal.
Who’s a part of your professional mastermind? Are you trustworthy enough for others to share with you? Who are you supporting despite the challenges?
Hidden figures provided great examples of leadership, determination, career support, not sabotage, and the genuine desire to see others succeed. We can be hidden for a season, but never get comfortable being limited.
“Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race”
The #1 New York Times bestseller and critically acclaimed box-office hit was nominated for three Academy Awards, namely Best Adapted Screenplay (Allison Schroeder and Ted Melfi), Best Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer) and Best Picture. Grossing more than $180 million, Hidden Figures has become the biggest-grossing movie fronted by an African American female ever.
The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space.
Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.
Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly these overlooked math whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, Virginia and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.