How to Increase Color in Your Diversity Leadership Jar - Innolect, Inc.

How to Increase Color in Your Diversity Leadership Jar

“We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.”      – Max de Pree

A client described a workshop she attended with a table exercise using colored beads: black, white, yellow, brown, red, rainbow, etc. Each person received a glass jar and was asked to select a bead response to a series of statements and questions. They included, choose the bead that represents:

– “your skin color.”
– “the dominant color of your high school student body.”
– “neighbors on either side of you and across the street from you.”
– “your two best friends.”
– “the team with whom you work.”
– Etc.

Some people had jars teeming with white beads, others had a lone black bead barely visible among the white beads and others a multi-hued selection of beads. Everyone’s jar was potentially different. As participants discussed what they learned, more than one person said, “Wow. I’ve got work to do.”

Leaders in organizations talk about their commitment to diversity, inclusion and even unity. While some are making great strides, others remain stuck on familiar turf, where women and people of color are hired, but rarely invited to join the ranks of senior leadership.

An exercise like this is great for increasing awareness, but real change occurs when we move from awareness to new behaviors and actions. Consider where you and your company reside on the diversity-inclusion scale. Do you have a jar full of monochromatic marbles or a rich, multicolored mixture? If you are aware of your own diversity needs, how are you embracing differences and preparing women, people of color and/or veterans for senior level positions?

Download 15 Ideas for Embracing Diversity in Your Team to consider some of the things you might do as a leader.

For more information, contact Becky Ripley at