The theme of Diversity MBAs 2015 ninth annual National Business Leaders Conference is “Changing the Paradigm,” with emphasis on building the next practices — the ones that drive change. After reviewing our data from our inclusive leadership index, I realized it is time we seriously look at what is happening in the marketplace as it relates to talent management. The data speaks loud and clear: It is not just time for change; it is time for the paradigm to shift.
When you think about it, what happens in the world does filter into the workplace. That means companies are challenged, more than they have ever bargained for, with managing attitudes and behaviors. Who thought that the workplace would be responsible for not just training that ensures the work can get done, but also making sure that what people actually feel and believe is heard and respected.
For the past 14 months on Diversity MBA’s Big Data Tour (on which we have been accompanied by Nielsen), we evoked dialogue about how data influences change. I thought it was necessary to share the visual of Dr. Kuhn’s paradigm shift (see YouTube video link) so the participants not only could cognitively understand what it means but visually connect with what crisis looks like. The problem with a paradigm shift is that you do not know you are in it.
That brings us to how many people allude to change management, change leadership, transformation, et.al., when a paradigm is about to shift. A paradigm is our perception of reality, our view of the world. It is our interpretation of events based on previous realities we have perceived.
So when we apply this to diversity and inclusion you can begin to understand why it has taken so long for companies to move and to adopt practices that changes the way they do business, engage people and include others.
Let me share with you a few insights from Diversity MBA’s inclusive leadership Index as it relates to why we must recognize that diversity is in crisis and that it is time for the paradigm to shift:
• When 95 percent of Fortune 1000 companies board seats are dominated by white men and women;
• When less than 10 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women and people of color;
• When the management pipeline for advancement in companies is filled with 87 percent white males and females;
• When the population is going to be majority people of color by 2020 and companies are only celebrating the movement of white women;
• When people of color are matriculating at a rate of 64 percent;
• When companies are just now realizing that bias exists in their culture;
And the list goes on and on. You can add your own experiences.
Let this be the reason that Diversity MBA, at its ninth annual conference, dares to have deliberate conversations.
Footnote: A paradigm shift (or revolutionary science) is, according to Thomas Kuhn, in his influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), a change in the basic assumptions, or paradigms, within the ruling theory of science.