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Building an Inclusive Organization

Leveraging the Power of a Diverse Workforce

By Stephen Frost, Raafi-Karim Alidina
15-minute read
Audio available
Building an Inclusive Organization by Stephen Frost, Raafi-Karim Alidina

Building an Inclusive Organization (2019) offers a roadmap for leaders to create organizations that truly celebrate diverse perspectives in the workplace. The authors show that to become truly inclusive, workplaces need to work hard to overcome unconscious bias, create divergent teams where people challenge each other, and implement policies to create a psychologically safe environment for all. 

  • Hiring managers who want to learn how to turn good intentions into action
  • Leaders wanting to make their companies more innovative and inclusive
  • Anyone who has suffered systematic discrimination and wants to understand how the system works.

Stephen Frost is the CEO of consulting firm Frost Included, and author of The Inclusion Imperative: How Real Inclusion Creates Better Business and Builds Better Societies. He teaches inclusive leadership at the Harvard Business School, and works as a consultant for companies all over the world. 

Raafi-Karim Alidina graduated from Harvard with a Master’s in Public Policy. He was a Research Fellow at the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, and now works as a consultant for Frost Included, advising companies on diversity and inclusion strategies.

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Building an Inclusive Organization

Leveraging the Power of a Diverse Workforce

By Stephen Frost, Raafi-Karim Alidina
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Building an Inclusive Organization by Stephen Frost, Raafi-Karim Alidina
Synopsis

Building an Inclusive Organization (2019) offers a roadmap for leaders to create organizations that truly celebrate diverse perspectives in the workplace. The authors show that to become truly inclusive, workplaces need to work hard to overcome unconscious bias, create divergent teams where people challenge each other, and implement policies to create a psychologically safe environment for all. 

Key idea 1 of 9

In increasingly polarised times, diversity in the workplace is more important than ever.

We’ve all done it. We’ve clicked “unfollow” or “unfriend” on that family member who insists on spouting political beliefs we find abhorrent. Or that friend who posts tasteless Facebook memes that make our blood boil. Such an easy solution: with a simple click, you never have to hear their awful theories on the world again. 

And why not? Why should you be forced to listen to things that enrage you? Well, the problem is that unfriending your racist uncle doesn’t make him less racist. And now he doesn’t have anyone to contradict him, allowing his racist views to go unchallenged. 

The key message here is: In increasingly polarised times, diversity in the workplace is more important than ever. 

Diversity, in its essence, is about engaging with different perspectives. But in recent years we’ve become increasingly polarized, existing within homogenous “silos” of people sharing the same identity and opinions. Politically, this drive has resulted in the once unthinkable: the UK leaving the European Union, and the US electing a president who openly derides refugees and immigrants, and who built a platform based on their exclusion from the country at all costs. 

Social media makes this polarization far worse, with technology “optimizing” your online experience using cookies to track your tastes and interests, and reflecting them back to you in the content you see. Before the internet, people used to consume news from a handful of newspapers and TV channels; today, they’re informed about the world via a “personalized” feed. So they’re rarely confronted with contradictory opinions. Worse still, many sources are overtly biased, or even completely fabricated.

Our lives are made poorer by homogeneity. In the workplace, any completely white male team has deeply entrenched blind spots and is prone to “groupthink.” They produce fewer original ideas and are ill-prepared for the future. Worst of all, these environments often lead to cronyism, with gender pay disparities and nepotism strangling growth and scaring away fresh talent. 

In these politically intolerant times, corporations bear responsibility to take a leading role in creating genuinely diverse and inclusive workplaces, where employees can learn from each other and “bring their whole selves” to work. How can corporations learn to transform homogenous cultures? As we’ll learn in the next blink, it starts by confronting unconscious bias.

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