September 18, 2019
“If, during this campaign season, we can learn to challenge our assumptions about what power sounds like, we can at last really hear what’s being said.” — Veronica Rueckert, on how women's voices are more closely scrutinized than men's.
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In their efforts to increase diversity in the workplace, consultant Rhett Power says organizations often overlook four key areas: age, suppliers, education, and socioeconomic status. To remedy the lack of age diversity, Power recommends building a multigenerational team and fostering cross-generational mentorship. He also suggests forgoing the use of traditional vendors in favor of “smaller, more diverse vendors,” which companies can find on the Certifiably Diverse platform. The benefit to this, he says, is that “choosing...smaller competitors can better meet your needs while promoting business diversity in the process.”
Further, to promote creativity, companies can opt to hire people with academic experiences outside of traditional business competencies. Lastly, research shows that 91% of CEOs see empathy as critical to business success. According to Power, diversity in socioeconomic background can lead to more empathetic employees. He points out, “If everyone at a company comes from the top 10 percent, how can they hope to connect with the other 90 percent of their customer base?”
We appreciate Power’s unique take on utilizing diverse vendors who may be lesser-known. It's important to think about traditional markers of diversity in the workplace, like race and gender, but it’s also important to think outside the box. That way, we can keep sourcing a wider range of viewpoints and gradually eliminate barriers to a diverse workforce.
With your team, brainstorm different types of diversity that your organization may be inadvertently overlooking, such as age and socioeconomic status. Then think about which areas of the organization could use diversifying, like Power does with vendors. Are there things you can do to widen the scope of diversity in your workplace?
Writer Sinclair Sexsmith (they/them) describes how they feel when a cisgender person shares their own pronouns. Sexsmith reports feeling warmer toward the person, because sharing pronouns demonstrates they know something about gender. Sexsmith writes, “I feel more comfortable asking people to use the pronouns that...make me feel most seen and whole, instead of just resolving to be mis-gendered and mis-represented.”
And when people use Sexsmith’s correct pronouns, Sexsmith feels “vulnerable, cared for, and seen.” They say it can make their whole day better.
When LGBTQ+ terms are introduced or replaced, people who aren’t active members of those circles may feel resistance. In response, Sexsmith reminds us that the challenge is to “undo the cultural systems that have been normalized all our lives.”
There are lots of everyday opportunities to normalize the practice of sharing your pronouns. You can include pronouns in your email signature, in your company bio, on your business card, and when you introduce yourself in person.
And if you’re introducing yourself to a group and there’s no prompt to share pronouns, you can share yours anyway. When referring to other people, feel free to respectfully ask what their pronouns are. If you mess up, it’s okay—just start over.
Techwear, a style of clothing designed for movement and made of technical materials, is rising in popularity. It’s often marketed as unisex or androgynous, but some point out that the garments are often just men’s clothes re-branded. The issue is that techwear branding tends to equate androgyny with thinness, whiteness, and masculinity. People whose bodies do not fit the presumed ideal are left with ill-fitting garments, defeating the purpose of the utility-minded style.
Other techwear companies claim that producing women’s clothes is “too hard,” or that there isn’t demand for it. But many marginalized consumers maintain that they don’t buy techwear because it’s not made for them.
We see a parallel between the lack-of-demand argument and the misconception that women are underrepresented in STEM and the C-suite due to lack of interest. These arguments point the finger at the group being marginalized (i.e., they don’t want techwear/leadership positions/STEM careers), which draws attention away from the true issue: exclusionary products, work environments, and classrooms.
This story speaks to a broad pattern of exclusion across industries. “From adventure gear to artificial hearts to medical care,” white men are often considered the default and the universal. Whether you’re developing techwear, curricula, or work processes, consider whether you’re thinking of white men as the stand-in for everyone else.