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A different attitude towards workplace diversity

workplace diversity

Let there be cake!

Disclaimer: *The following story is a true workplace diversity story. I wrote the below post which was uploaded on our company website and am reposting it here with permission. The names have been omitted to protect from poaching. 

Celebrate

Today, one of our Senior Developers brought in carrot cake for the entire company.  The reason? Today marks the 25th anniversary of his immigration to the United States. As the HR guy here at MoxiWorks, I love this for a number of reasons. 

  1. He is a success story. A successful developer and family man, making a living in one of the hottest tech markets in Seattle.
  2. He brought in the cake to share with his colleagues, co-workers, and friends. As a guy working in HR, this is next level employee engagement. If he didn’t like the company, employees, or the work, he wouldn’t have brought in such a treat for a company of close to 80 employees. 

An HR guy with perspective

I am approached on a regular basis about workplace diversity and inclusion. Last month, I spoke on behalf of workplace diversity and inclusion at a Fortune 100. As an executive, I understand the business reasons why a company would and can benefit from diversity in the workplace. As a minority, I have experienced what it is like to be the only minority in a room in both my professional and personal life. I don’t know everything about diversity, but I do feel like I have a relevant perspective when it comes to creating an inclusive workplace.  

Like most technology companies, visually we are under-represented in a number of demographics when it comes to workplace diversity. When we run data to compare ourselves to other tech giants that were founded in Seattle, AcmePublishing actually shows as more diverse in most categories. Despite the data we shared with the company, I do receive flack about diversity and visually, I get it.

I want to look at candidates from all walks of life to hire the very best

Bad example

EG: We recently hired a VP here at Acme and I did hear that employees were disappointed when they learned we didn’t hire a woman. Truth be known, we declined women and in the end, hired the best person for the role who happened to be a white male. The hired VP even heard from employees that if we were serious about diversity, we would have hired a woman of diversity. Uhhggg. 

Here at Acme Publishing, we don’t chase workplace diversity. We appreciate it, and we embrace it, but we don’t chase it to look diverse. (When I heard the linked story, I encouraged the employee to share her story). What I mean by this is that we don’t hire diverse employees to fill quotas or meet numbers. As a minority myself, I personally don’t want to be hired because I helped to fill a quota.

I don’t want anyone to look at me and suspect, “HRNasty got this job because the company and the executive team needed a minority.” I personally need to be able to look everyone in the eye and know I landed this job because I was the best qualified. 

More importantly, I want everyone to look at me and know they have the best person in the position for the role, not the best minority.

Hire the best for the role without labels

I was proud when our CEO stood in front of the company and said the same thing. “We are going to hire the best person for the role. We are not going to hire diversity for the sake of diversity. Help us hire the right person for the role by referring us the best candidates.”  (We rely on our employee referrals and offer a small gesture of thanks to our employees when we hire from their network)

Here is the reason I love the Carrot cake gesture that our Senior Developer, shared with the company:

  • I didn’t know that this employee was an immigrant.
  • I am a big believer that what a person does say or do can convey as much as what he/she does not say or does not do.

On being diverse without saying the “D” word

This employee doesn’t make a big deal of him being a diverse employee. He has never approached me about a diversity and inclusion issue in the workplace. He does his job at a very high level and his nationality, gender, or religion haven’t come into the workplace. His life experiences affect his performance, and he brings diversity to the workplace, but he doesn’t make diversity an issue. I like to think he is known for his intellectual horsepower and the work ethic he brings to the workplace. Note: His email to the company didn’t mention what country he immigrated from.  

I like to believe that Acme Publishing is organically creating a diverse and inclusive place to work. It isn’t contrived, and HR isn’t practicing “diversity by the numbers.” When employees like their workplace, they bring their +1’s and families to visit. When they don’t like the workplace, their family won’t set foot in the building.

Creating an inclusive workplace

I like to think that because workplace diversity isn’t an issue at Acme Publishing. Our employees are comfortable bringing their accomplishments within the diversity arena into the workplace. A further example? Employees from other countries got together and took a group picture to celebrate their ethnicity in the workplace, all inspired by our developer’s gesture.

workplace diversity

Diversity in the workplace. Picture organized by the participants to celebrate the anniversary

Thank you to our developer for getting his message across by not mentioning it. Thank you to everyone at Acme Publishing for creating an inclusive place to work where employees feel comfortable.

See you at the after party,

HRNasty

nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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