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October 2022

The Diversity of Thought Equation: D + I = DOT

The below article has been authored by Arnaud Despierre (迪安诺), Senior Partner and Asia Region Leader, and Kaifeng Wang, Director, at Kingsley Gate Partners.

The content is based on conversations with leading global executives on driving Diversity of Thought in your organization.

Diversity is critical, but it cannot lead to ‘diversity of thought’ (DOT), and impact, without genuine inclusion. Many of the CEOs we interviewed highlighted that you might have a diverse employee base, but, if you are not listening to them, then you are missing out. One CEO shared for example that “it was only during covid that we accepted it was OK to work from home. Working mothers knew that all along, but no one had listened to them.”

Here is a list of actionable tips they shared on how to solve the D&I equation:

1.  Show vulnerability:

The traditional ethos of the business leader is to be all-knowing, boldly decisive, and always in control. However, an inclusive business environment requires leaders who are willing to open themselves up to different points of view and are genuinely open to publicly saying, “I didn’t know, but I am learning.” It is critical for organizations to showcase these leaders as role models so that others can feel confident to share their views without fear of being shut down.

2.  Educate, educate, and then educate more:

The emotional journey of individual employees towards diversity of thought has three broad steps: awareness, willingness, and practice. Companies must recognize that this journey is a process that is unlikely to happen spontaneously. They need to relentlessly provide education opportunities to their employees, from delivering unconscious bias training that holds up the mirror to each employee, to leveraging employee resources groups for advocacy to sharing success stories broadly across the organization.

3.  Look beyond the numbers:

Many CEOs we interviewed highlighted that one of the dangers of diversity KPIs is that they can give a false sense of confidence. Even with a diverse workforce, can you be sure that new points of view are being brought into the conversation? Questions in employee engagement surveys need to be dedicated to this and particular attention should be paid to qualitative comments to get a true pulse. Issues can be explored through employee focus groups to get a finer read.