“Diverse” Employees: What Are You Really Trying to Say?

For the last 7 years, I’ve worked as vendor alongside leading Fortune 100 companies. There have been many rocky roads to navigate when working to increase the pipeline of staff diversity and ensuring equitable employment opportunities for all. Most times, these major fashion brands and global leadership structures favor leadership demographics that are far too often white, male, heterosexual, cisgendered, and frankly… family adjacent.  

When asking my clients what they want to focus on in this next stage of their hiring and recruitment process, they use this phrase: ‘Well, we’re looking for diverse employees’. So, I ask them, “Can you describe a diverse employee to me?” They pause. Then, they typically respond by saying, “You know… someone that differs from the way leadership looks now”.

There are two things I’d like to offer to this conversation.

First, there are no two people that are exactly alike. It only takes two people to be in a room for that room to be diverse. No matter how similar we are, there are always some defining characteristics or experiences we’ve had that make us ‘diverse’. So, we are ALL diverse, which means we all have dimensions of intersectionality that toggle us between experiences of privilege and marginalization. 

Second, there is no such thing as diverse employee! I have noticed that “diverse employees” is often a code phrase for a non-majority group. So, instead of saying “diverse” (as if you are not diverse yourself), just specify the group(s) that are underrepresented.

It saves you time and allows you to focus on increasing representation in ways that are meaningful to your company and the people within it.

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The Architects for Restorative Communities (ARC) Project is a trusted organizational effectiveness consulting firm, with a team of trainers that average 20+ years of experience

Transform Your Company Culture

The Architects for Restorative Communities (ARC) Project is a trusted organizational effectiveness consulting firm, with a team of trainers that average 20+ years of experience

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