6 Questions That Will Increase Equal Rights At Work (FINALLY)


The success is in diversity.

Do you believe in cognitive diversity? Do you believe cognitive diversity is essential to the success of this company? Is it your job to ensure the success of this company?

Do you believe that people, regardless of status, race, gender, etc. have the same potential if they are given the same opportunities? Have you seen the hiring and promotion numbers for the company and if so, do you agree that they do not reflect the cognitive diversity that we all believe is essential?

If people have the same potential then why aren't we meeting the hiring and promotion numbers that are essential to the success of this company?

This is the new six question challenge that will stifle even the most stubborn hiring manager or antiquated leader in your company.

I spoke at a women's history month event a couple months ago and after getting off stage I was approached by a 54-year old man that told me he was tired of his company trying so hard to diversify their workforce and forgetting about people his age.

I asked him if he was a manager and he replied yes. I then asked him if he hired and promoted people and he said yes. It was then that I gave him the six-question challenge. He answered in the affirmative to questions one through four.

When we got to question five, he emphatically stated, 'yes, the numbers are jammed down our throat every day!' And then the following exchange occurred.

Me: Do you agree that the numbers are uneven? In other words, that the ratio of men in supervisory positions versus women in supervisory positions is low?

Him: Yes, but we can't help who applies or who is qualified when they apply.

Me: Okay, but earlier you acknowledged that people, regardless of gender, race, etc. have the same potential if given the same opportunities. If you meant what you said, what is the issue?

Him: Like I said, they're either not applying or not qualified.

Me; Why don't you know what the issue is? Why don't you know whether they are applying?

Him: (Emphatically) It is not my job to keep track of application numbers and certainly not to help people get qualified. People need to take the initiative! They always want to be coddled.

Me: Okay, but sticking with women for instance, you noted earlier that cognitive diversity was essential to your company's success and that you were responsible for ensuring your company's success. Assuming you mean what you say, why aren't you proactive in understanding and active in managing things that are preventing that cognitive diversity?

Him: So I'm only supposed to help women?

Me: You have the numbers in front of you right?

Him: Yes.

Me: Is there a challenge with regards to the ratio of men in supervisory positions?

Him: No.

Me: What is the overall women to men ratio in your company?

Him: 34% women, 66% men.

Me: Does it appear as though your company has a cognitive diversity problem when it comes to men?

Him: No.
Me: Based on that answer and your aforementioned view that cognitive diversity is essential to the success of your company, and your dedication to making your company successful, does it not make sense that you'd proactively and actively manage this issue?

Him: (Silence)

This was not my first time to the 'selling diversity' rodeo. I had the t-shirt, matching hat and shiny belt buckle to boot. I created the 6 question challenge because I got tired of hearing the less evolved or ignorant explain away why diversity was not their problem to solve.

They would go to the obligatory training or have the obligatory conversation with a concerned human resources professional when their numbers weren't right and it always came down to the same excuse: 'I hire and promote the most qualified people'. Isn't that what I'm supposed to do?'

'Absolutely', said the Equal Opportunity and Human Resources rep, 'but let's see what we can do  to improve those diversity numbers'. 'Okay' says unevolved or ignorant manager. And that was the end of this and like conversations.

That was not the end of my journey however. I was only just beginning to try. I needed to figure out a way to educate hiring managers on why it is imperative that they become proactive leaders in this cause instead of being able to pass the buck or get away with saying 'I'll try better next time'.

Since the inception of the 6-question challenge, I don't know how many people I've initiated the conversation with but it is in the several thousands.

And whether I saw a breakthrough or a patch of silence I felt really good about. It meant that people were getting and appreciating a different perspective or they were caught off guard by the approach and could no longer get away with safety answers.

I will end my pitch with this. In the realm of diversity, don't ask a question that you already know the answer to. This, if you don't like what the answer will be. Instead, predict the responses (and they are predictable) and get in front of them. In this, you are narrowing their ability to respond while indicting said responses.

Cognitive diversity is a company imperative. Let's put a new strategy behind this reality.


Explore YourTango