Diversity, Inclusion and Other False Gods


As businesses respond to an economy burgeoning with growth opportunities, one of the biggest challenges they face revolves around hiring employees with a high work ethic, a flexibility vis-à-vis job roles, and an ability to communicate with colleagues and managers. But most of all, they need to fit the culture of the company. In a time of increased demands for productivity, efficiency and teamwork, cultural misalignment can be fatal.

Employees who feel at odds with the prevailing norms, belief systems, and behaviors of the company, impede decision-making, create passive-aggressive interactions, and distract employees from the tasks at hand. Recruiting, selection, and retention, take on an enhanced importance, as businesses shift their focus from hiring people for what they know, to hiring people for who they are. And, unfortunately, the increased pressures of the diversity-inclusion industry, have worked to undermine this very needed shift in staffing.

The number one mission of a business is to meet the needs of employees, customers, and vendors, who believe in, and behave in accordance with the core values of the company. When they do that, the company prospers. When they don’t; that is, when they tolerate and even encourage, a mix of competing value systems, they corrode the company from within, and spend an inordinate amount of time and resources, putting out people fires and replacing dysfunctional employees, one after another, in a revolving door of cultural misfits.

It is not the job of companies to adapt to the idiosyncratic beliefs and behaviors of individuals. When they do that, they betray the commitments and investments in the company culture and values, of the workforce as a whole. From our experience, it’s clear that the overriding mission of the diversity-inclusion industry, is to pressure companies to accept and adapt to behaviors that are in opposition to the prevailing core values of company cultures.

In our work, we have seen numerous instances in which our clients confronted values-dissonant behavior, only to be told that they have no right to sanction the employee, because he comes from a “different” culture than the one prevailing in the company. And what’s even more insidious, the challenging of this “different” culture rationale, brings on a direct or covert accusation of racism.

Let me give you an example of what this looks like in the workplace: Company A has, as its most preeminent value, Individual Responsibility. What this means, in terms of the company culture, is:

(1) Every interaction and every relationship is a 50-50 deal. However any stakeholder finds oneself in a situation (good or bad), they own half of the responsibility for being there. Nobody gets to claim victim status.

(2) The first question that should be asked by anyone finding themselves in a difficult conundrum, is – “What did I do (or not do) to create this situation?” We have 100% control over our decisions and actions; we have marginal control, at best, over the behavior and choices of others.

(3) Every individual will be held accountable to keeping the commitments they make to themselves. The failure to keep those commitments, negatively impacts on all stakeholders as well as the culture of the company.

The only question, then, that should drive the hiring, the retention, and the termination of a person, is – “Do they believe and buy into this core value of Individual Responsibility?” If not, everything else is meaningless.

So, if someone wishes to be a part of Company A, and believes that their behavior and their destiny is determined by forces outside their control and their wishes (a “blamer” and responsibility shifter) there is no place for them in a culture that embraces Individual Responsibility.

In assessing cultural alignment, one’s technical expertise, race, ethnicity, religion, age, or gender are irrelevant. None of these characteristics determine one’s individual success, or the success of a business. And it is the ultimate manipulation to attribute individual or group failure to anything other than cultural misalignment.

Success in business has always been underpinned by values clarity and cultural continuity. And it’s the primary obligation of business leaders to support this foundation, and not be dissuaded by political correctness and the cause du jour.

Morrie Shechtman

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *