Diversity and Straight White Men – 4 Key Thoughts

This groups certainly does not look very diverse and is not indicative of today's diverse business environment.

This groups certainly does not look very diverse and is not indicative of today’s diverse business environment.

Diversity and Straight White Men – this topic indeed does deserve some discussion. How do straight white men fit into the diversity and inclusion discussion?

So often straight white men may feel left out or marginalized in diversity and inclusion discussions. Some may even feel that they are be targeted as “the diversity problem” or feel under appreciated or even discriminated against. I would like to offer 4 points for consideration, and have added links to two related online articles at the end.

1. You are diverse as a straight white man! Every single person in an organization is diverse and unique, and brings their own special mix of background and experience to the table. Though some people may view straight white men as a monolithic group, there is a huge mix of diversity including age, marital / family status, education, thought processes,economic upbringing, etc.

2. Accept your privilege. White men (and I am one of them) need to realize that we have been in control of most of the organizational leadership and processes in the US. It has been easier for us to progress into senior leadership within a system with the incumbent leadership looking like us. We now need to accept that with a wider pool of diverse candidates now getting their fair shot at leadership, we truly must be the best qualified to deserve that next promotion.

3. Realize that straight white men face their own diversity challenges. For example, as both parents are now take a stronger role in raising families, some managers may still excuse a woman when she needs to leave work early to pick up a sick child at school, but look down at a man with the same request as “less than” and questioning why his wife does not pick up the child. And there are also single fathers, men with responsibility for aging parents, etc., that need strong work-life balance practices without feeling that they are somehow “less manly.”

A white male business leader can be an active diversity ally by mentoring a diverse set of employees.

A white male business leader can be an active diversity ally by mentoring a diverse set of employees.

4. Be a strong active diversity ally. We need to reject any thoughts or discussion that white men are the cause of diversity issues. Instead, we can take the lead and be a major ally to promote diversity and inclusion as a critical strategic initiative within our organizations. We can mentor diverse candidates and help insure they have full access to the tools to help them get head and contribute their maximum to the organization. And we can network among our own peers and speak passionately about the value of diversity.

Yes, I know many people may disagree or not even like this blog, but dialogue on diversity items like this are important. In fact, here are two more in depth articles you can read on this subject, I may not agree with them and instead make my above 4 points, but it is always good to consider all aspects of a complex discussion:

I thank my business partner Marie-Louise Murville of Delight Me for sending me the Washington Post article, “Workplace diversity policies don’t help – and make white men feel threatened.”

And one I found via LinkedIn, “Diversity Talk Makes White Men Anxious, and Other Reasons Diversity Programs Fail.”

2015 Warning – A Talent Shortage! Part 1: Three Great Sources of New Employees

New EmployeesYes, though it may not be as fast or as robust as we would like, the economy continues to improve in 2015. What is one of the major issues now facing US companies? A talent shortage! One of the major contributing factors is that the record number of Baby Boomers (people born between 1946 – 1965) retiring exceeds the supply of new qualified talent entering the market place.

Part 1 of this two part series will look at 3 top sources of bringing in new talent. Part 2 will explore the importance of retaining your existing talent through better engagement and career development.

Let’s examine three great sources for bringing in new talent: Veterans, Older Workers and Millenials.

1) Veterans! Most indications are that the USA as a country will be deploying less troops overseas, resulting in additional veterans ending their tours of duty and entering the domestic job market. Yes, hiring veterans is a good thing to do to thank those who have served our country, but more importantly, the men and women of our Armed Services have received excellent training and have gained valuable skills required by most businesses. Do look for programs in your state promoting and providing connection tools for Veteran hiring. In North Carolina, we have an excellent effort being coordinated by the Governor’s Working Group on Veterans, Service Members and their Families in conjunction with our NC state SHRM (Society of Human Resource Mgt) group and major businesses. Veterans looking for work in NC and companies with job openings should check out the NC Military Pipeline website. And do read my blog about hiring veterans from last November.

2) Older workers! Even has record number of people in their late 50s and 60s are now retiring, many older workers want to keep working or perhaps re-enter the workforce because of continued good health, the desire to keep intellectually stimulated and for financial reasons. This excellent pool of talent can offer deep expertise in their fields or your industry, and can even include former employees who may want to return to work part time or on a contract basis. But a strong value proposition needs to be offered; these valuable workers are seeking flexibility in hours and having responsibilities that leverage their strengths and in which they feel valued. Check out the blog I published in 2013 on considerations for best engaging older workers.

3) The New Millenials! These are people born after 1982, and thus includes all the 20-something recent college graduates. Companies must really work hard to recruit enough of this emerging young talent to fill many positions left by a high retirement rate, realizing that the same things don’t drive this generation as past ones. These younger workers seek more work-life balance, to have their opinions and contributions valued, and companies that embrace diversity and more altruistic global world view. Also companies need to do more recruiting in “virtual space” instead of the old methods. (see my blog “Are your recruiting methodologies up-to-date?”)

Go out and hire some Veterans, older workers and new millennials! In Part 2, I will focus on how to develop and retain this important talent once you have recruited them onto your team.