Can One Question Change an Organization’s Culture?

Today we observe the birthday of a leader who stood for equality, respect, and diversity – Martin Luther King, Jr.  This man, who followed a dream that changed laws and attitudes, spoke words we still remember more than 50 years after his death.  His words that I hold dear are:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation
Where they will not be judged by the color of their skin
But by the content of their character.”

– MLK

Many CEOs take this day to discuss the importance of diversity.  And rightfully so – diversity brings organizational as well as social and personal benefits.  But if we measure diversity simply by numbers or quotas, we’re missing the point. Diversity without inclusion is an org chart goal and nothing more. Diversity is static; inclusion is active.

What is inclusion?  Inclusion puts diversity into action by creating an environment of involvement, respect, and connection—where the richness of ideas, backgrounds, and perspectives are harnessed to create business value. Organizations need both diversity and inclusion to be successful.

Companies are always trying to implement ways at the corporate level to foster inclusiveness, such as promoting cross-functional teams.  But to make sure we include people and their ideas (to make people feel included and engaged), there’s one easy way most employees can help.  Ask others: What do you think? This simple phrase can lead to significant benefits. And isn’t this how science, indeed society, has advanced through the ages – incrementally, building on the ideas of others.

These are my thoughts on diversity, inclusion, and making your organization the best place you’ve ever worked.

What do you think?