What are some of the ways company objectives may be at odds with diversity/inclusion objectives? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Time and money are the scarcest resources when you're running a company. At its simplest, a company's objective is to maximize shareholder value - and there's a limited number of resources available to achieve that. It would be naive to say that trying to recruit a diverse team -- especially from a candidate pool that doesn't reflect the broader population -- doesn't take any more resources than recruiting through referral networks, or even through traditional retained firms or post-and-interview tactics. So spending resources to recruit diverse candidates would appear to be at odds with your company objectives -- why allocate more resources to doing something you can accomplish with less?
But that thinking ignores long-term objectives:, and creating them only gets harder as you grow.
Nobody makes a deliberate choice to build a non-diverse team. But in making the choice not to allocate resources to building a diverse team - and admittedly, sinking resources you could use for other things into diversity - you are making a choice to prioritize short-term gains over long-term scalability and sustainability of the business. That's a difficult decision either way: If your team is two people, you have no product, no revenue, and limited runway, using as few resources as possible for recruiting a third teammate might be the right decision. But with every new recruit, it gets harder to weave diversity into your hiring process and culture - the bigger a company is, the harder it becomes to move the needle.
Apple's shareholders recently decided a proposal to prioritize and speed up their diversity efforts was "": The costs of prioritizing diversity, this response says, are too large; the benefits of those investments would be too small. Apple is a 116,000-person company, with $215 billion in annual revenue -- Apple is big. A meaningful change to the makeup of their 72%-male leadership team would require a giant investment, and the shareholders themselves say that cost is too large.
From 2014 to 2015, Trello, New York-based software company, worked withto mentor and guide new female software developers as they started their careers at tech companies other than Trello. The company was under 100 workers when we began the Fellowship program that supported women technologists, and Trello made what could be seen as an unreasonable investment: They spent expensive engineering time to mentor these women, spent real money carving out space and throwing events for our graduates in their offices, and invested executive resources in building and managing the program. By January 2016, the company's percentage of female employees had doubled; in January of 2017, they were acquired by Atlassian for $425 million.
Diversity needs be viewed as important for the long-term scalability and sustainability of the company (more on that), or it will never make sense to invest in. As a company making decisions about where allocate precious resources and how to create the most value under serious constraints, a short-term hit is hard to swallow. But the that diversity does positively impact team performance -- research tells us that choice to prioritize long-term sustainability and performance over short-term priorities is what makes the most sense in the long haul.
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